This year has seen pretty much everyone's bracket get destroyed. It got me thinking: are we on the age of a new revolution in college basketball, where the Dukes and Carolinas and Kentuckys will actually get played against (and sometimes squeak by with only the skin of their teeth and the crack of their ass to save them)? Or is it just that we, as college basketball fans, have been so
brainwa convinced by pundits that the only teams that matter are the ones who blow out their opponents in the regular season.
In the past couple days, we've seen several legitimate contenders for the title fall. Villanova lost against North Carolina State in an instant classic. Baylor lost in the first round to Georgia State University, a team led (kind of) by "I am not my broken leg" Kevin Ware in a sort of redemption story for him. Virginia got kicked out of the tourney by Michigan State. Maryland lost to West Virginia in a game that was close--until Melo Trimble went out with a head injury (from there, all bets were off). Hell, UCLA is still in the tourney.
Many of the teams (sans Kentucky) who are "supposed" to be contending this year have either already been sent home (Nova, Virginia, Kansas, etc.) or have had scares that they shouldn't have. It's an exciting time, but also one that makes you wonder something. Have we really been misled by all the ESPN coverage? I don't think so. I just think that when you get teams who don't see each other except in these tourney situations, it's a lot harder to prepare--especially when it's a one-and-done scenario. Who's to say that, for instance, if UMD and WVU met more than this game, the Terps would've been better prepped for the Mountaineers' hardbody playing style.
What I'm calling for is this: yes, we still have the conference games. But, we also have a mix of non-conference games that don't just revolve around your warm-up cupcake games. We can still have a MEAC team go against Kentucky. I'm all for that. Let's just make these non-conference games, especially the early ones, be a mix of "cupcake" games and legitimate challenges. That way, teams can adjust to playing teams they normally wouldn't and we could have games in March Madness that don't end up being complete clusterfucks for everyone involved (most of the games I mentioned above, they weren't really that good--aside from the moments involved).
At least it's better than last year. Someone survived with a perfect bracket on ESPN...until Saturday. Last year, apparently, everyone was out of that running by, like, Thursday night. So, that's something...right? RIGHT?!