Syracuse’s run to the Final Four is the epitome of “March Madness” in every sense of the word.
A team that probably shouldn’t have made the NCAA tournament shocking the world and reaching the biggest stage in college basketball is what this time of year is all about.
It’s the reason why so many people adore this tournament when 64 (or 68) teams all have an equal chance at capturing the game’s greatest prize, and why there are so many critics to college football’s significantly lower-scaled four-team playoff.
All college programs seem to want is a chance, which is exactly what the NCAA tournament provides.
If Syracuse does indeed continue its Cinderella run by beating North Carolina on Saturday night and then either Villanova or Oklahoma in the final next Monday, the Orange will go down as one of the most improbable championship teams in the history of college basketball. They’ve already defied the odds by becoming the first 10-seed to ever reach the Final Four. Madness!
Syracuse finished the season a sub-par 19-13 overall, and went 9-9 in the ACC. Losing to St. John’s may have been the single worst loss of the college basketball season, and the Orange finished the regular season with two straight losses to UNC and Florida State before losing to Pittsburgh in their first ACC tournament game.
Let’s face it. Syracuse didn’t do anything from November through the beginning of March that says they deserved a shot at capturing the championship. I don’t think there’s anyone that can dispute that. Heck, even Jim Boeheim said he was 90 percent sure Syracuse wouldn’t be in the NCAA tournament.
But by the time the tournament began, Syracuse beat a less-talented Dayton team, received the gift of the century after Middle Tennessee beat Michigan State, squeaked by another less-talented team in Gonzaga, and then had one of those miracle games against Virginia. The result: a spot in the Final Four.
So here’s the question we need to answer. Do we want to decide the champions of our sports in a where anything can happen type of environment? Or do we want to see the teams that separated themselves from the field and earned it with their regular season play battle it out for the title?
What’s the point of playing over 30 regular season games and having conference tournaments if everyone’s name just gets thrown into a hat at the end of the season no matter how they perform? Relatively speaking.
Again, March Madness is widely considered the best sporting event in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s the correct way to decide who wins the championship.