Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Madness
By Zach

It's been a real busy four days for me, what with 48 basketball games to watch. This weekend is my absolute favorite weekend of the sports year, and this go-around didn't disappoint.

First things first: Kudos to me for picking both Northwestern State and Bradley to win in the first round. Also, all credit belongs to a certain Megan in my pool, who picked George Mason to upset Michigan State and North Carolina. Suddenly, her picking them to win the whole thing doesn't look quite so crazy.

Let's be honest, who doesn't love seeing teams like Bradley, George Mason, and Witchita State in the Sweet 16? Miracle runs by no-name schools are one of the great joys of not just the NCAA tournament, but of being a sports fan. But is a mid-major ever going to break through to the Final Four, or even to the championship?

John had an interesting point in his last post. Mid-major teams have in many ways caught up to the major conference teams, especially the middle parts of those conference. John pointed out a pair of reasons: kids at mid-major schools tend to stay for all four years, and often they're experienced Euro players.

But the biggest reason is that with the scholarship limits now imposed on teams, the major conference teams can't horde the talent like they once did. Good scouting and recruiting can get Bradley a player like Patrick O'Bryant, when once it was extremely rare to see a seven-footer outside of the major conferences.

Along with the scholarships, mid-major schools now get far more exposure than they did 10 years ago. ESPN airs a number of WCC, MCV, and other mid-major games. Entire websites exist to chronicle the mids. High school kids no longer feel like they have to go to a major conference school to reach the NBA, or to have a legitimate chance to make noise in the Big Dance.

With all that being said, we're still a long ways away from seeing a mid-major win a championship. The talent disparity has shrunk, but no team outside a major conference is going to collect talent the way Duke, UNC, UConn, and others can. The first weekend may be all about the mid-majors, but the last weekend belongs to the big boys.


Post a Comment

<< Home