So my bracket is officially blown up – how about yours?
As (I hope) you read last week, I had Michigan, Florida, Arizona and Villanova as my final four and it seems just one of them will be playing this week when the NCAA begins the final phase of March Madness in the house that Jerry Jones built. And no, it’s not the team I predicted to win the whole thing – Michigan – that’s still alive either, so I can’t even hold out hope for that. In fact, as far as my bracket goes it is cooked completely— in another word, it’s done.
I have to admit I was very surprised by the run Kentucky made last weekend to get to the final four. First they knocked off the defending champions from Louisville then they ousted the team I had winning it all, Michigan. In retrospect, however, I suppose I should not have been that surprised as Kentucky seems to have the type of team that succeeds a lot in college basketball these days.
They are coached by a celebrity coach who plays fast and loose with the rules of college basketball. They are loaded with freshmen who probably would be playing the NBA if the professional league did not have a rule against drafting 18-year olds. In other words, they are loaded with players who more than likely won’t be playing in Lexington next year.
In fact, if you look at the Wildcats’ roster, nine of their 16 players are freshmen. If you check the box score of their game against Michigan you will find—of the eight players who played for Kentucky in the game—seven of them were freshman. One other was a sophomore.
This is the way of things now in the world of NCAA hoops. Fashionable coaches that help high-profile programs, load up each off-season with the top talent coming out of high school, and try and make a run at the title.
When the year ends, most of those players head off to the money offered by the NBA. Then, the coach remains to try and do it all over again. It is a far cry from the game I grew up watching where there were actual stars in college basketball – players who had worked for two or three years to earn the respect of the nation by demonstrating their skills night-in and night-out.
These days it seems the stars are only stars because we were told they were great. They simply emerged from some high school gymnasium in some far-flung corner of the country. Sure, a lot the time they go on to prove just how talented they are—as is the case with the kids at Kentucky. They are on a roll and I would not be surprised at all if that roll ends with them cutting down the nets in “North Texas” (that’s Arlington, in case you were wondering) on Monday night.
Then, as has been the case so often in the past, most of them will head off to the NBA where they will, for the most part, disappear into the cracks of a much more difficult game.