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Now that the national championship game has been played, is it okay to admit that this year’s NCAA Tournament, including the championship, wasn’t really all that great?
Whenever I throw accusations around about “March Madness,” all my friends who call themselves “purists”—and who are convinced that the NCAA Tournament is perfect—chastise me and quickly explain how this latest tournament has been the best tournament ever.
I’m going to take a few moments to address the most common arguments for “why this year’s tournament proves March Madness is the best!”
Not a single number-one-seed is in the Final Four
This is by far the biggest “selling point” for anyone defending this year’s tournament, and is by far the most ridiculous. How does eliminating the best teams in the tournament make it better? Similarly, how is it possibly more enjoyable to watch VCU play against Butler than it would be to watch Duke play Ohio State?
For me, a good tournament ends with the most elite and skilled players going head-to-head, not mediocre mid-major squads looking sheepish and trying their hardest to appear as if they somehow belong at the big dance. Yes, Butler and VCU proved that on any given day, a good team can get beat. So what? If I want to figure out who the best NBA team is, I don’t force the Lakers to play a one-game neutral-site playoff against the Nuggets to figure out who’s better. I play them off in a series, and the battle reveals the winner, and the “best team.”
Upsets are always fun to watch, but when it comes down to it, a big part of what was missing in the Final Four, and more specifically in the championship game, was the presence of an elite team. Ugly basketball isn’t fun to watch.