NCAA Bracket 2012: The Biggest Winners and Losers of This Year's Madness
The NCAA tournament is the perfect dichotomy of yin and yang. Every game brings elation to the victor and heartache to the victim. It’s basketball’s answer to Isaac Newton’s third law of motion.
For every joyous victory, there is an equal but opposite painful loss.
With so much at stake in every game, there are great winners and equal but opposite losers. This is how we measure greatness. The greater the win, the more harrowing the loss. Or, as Newton would state, all bodies of mass are attracted to each other in relation to their mass (or something like that).
Great victors produce heroes, and terrible losers produce goats. They are measured against each other in relativity.
Here are the biggest winners and losers thus far.
Winners: Lehigh and Norfolk State
Going into this season, only four No. 15 seeds have ever won a first-round game. They are: Hampton over Iowa State in 2001, Fang Mitchell’s Coppin State over South Carolina in 1997, Santa Clara over Arizona in 1993 and Richmond over Syracuse in 1991.
Both Norfolk State, who beat Missouri, and Lehigh, who over came Duke, joined this group in 2012. These are generally thought of as fluke wins, and Duke and Missouri fans may claim they will shake off the losses, but it’s just not true.
For the players of Norfolk State and Lehigh, these victories will last a lifetime and be shared around the dinner table at holidays. Nothing is quite as big as a good David versus Goliath story.
For Duke and Missouri fans, it gets worse. Duke has enjoyed success and will continue to do so. Missouri isn’t in the same breath as Duke as far as basketball history, but the Tigers were a formidable bunch and years from now, this will hurt.
Ask any Syracuse fan which loss stings the most. You would think that the loss to Indiana in the ’87 final would be it, or even the loss to Kentucky in the ’96 final, but the one that will prevail is the loss to Richmond. A team losing a championship game is a tough loss, but it’s understandable. When Syracuse lost to Richmond, though, it was unfathomable, and the pain of unfulfilled potential lasts much longer than losing a tough fight.
It’s why we romanticize about the girl that got away, but are ok getting divorced.
Huge upsets like these in the tournament are the stuff that dreams are made of and, conversely, the agony that forms nightmares.
Losers: The Officials
Last week, USA Today ran a piece on the terrible officiating in this tournament. I won’t go into too much detail about it, but the officials are a story and that’s never good.
Perhaps in a karmic twist of fate, the officials knew this and made a few make-up calls.
The problem is that the teams that needed making up to were already out of the tournament.
Take the Syracuse-UNC-Asheville game. Two calls stood out as awful among the many, and they both helped the Orange. There was the lane violation during Scoop Jardine’s free-throw attempts in the closing minutes that helped Syracuse extend the lead, and there was the awful out-of-bounds call that went Syracuse’s way that put them in the position to win the game.
That’s not to say that Syracuse would have definitely lost, but officials should never be the story.
As if paying off a life debt to UNC-Asheville, the calls went terribly against Syracuse in their game against Ohio State.
The calls were not good against Ohio State either, but the officials seemed to have a tough time deciding which players they would allow to play physically and which players would be whistled for belching in the lane.
Syracuse had an opportunity to win the game, but they did not take advantage. The officials did not make Syracuse miss its shots, but this game stands out among the many that were just terrible to watch due to the officiating.
Enrico Pallazzo wouldn't have officiated this game worse.
Winner: The Commonwealth of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky’s run has been pretty impressive so far, and its biggest test comes Sunday against Baylor. Kentucky is the consensus favorite to win the entire tournament, and the people of the Blue Grass State are feeling pretty good.
Then, as if by divine intervention, Louisville overcomes a 10-point deficit in the closing minutes against Florida to advance to the Final Four.
If Roy Williams coaching North Carolina against his old team, the Kansas Jayhawks, is intriguing, the Pitino versus Calipari matchup will be the biggest fight for Kentuckians since the Louisville Lip laced up his gloves.
Loser: Ohio State
Ohio State sophomore and part-time Superman impersonator Jared Sullinger is going to go pro after this year.
I wrote an article at the beginning of the tournament about all the reasons Ohio State would not succeed.
Ladies and gentleman, I am an idiot.
This is an unbelievable performance being played out by Ohio State, and they deserve all the credit in the world for overcoming everything from foul trouble to William Buford’s cold streak.
The one constant is that Sullinger is a force to be reckoned with.
Regardless of the outcome of this tournament, Sullinger will go to the NBA and could be the first pick, although Anthony Davis of Kentucky is the most likely candidate.
Ohio State out-kicked the coverage in landing Sullinger. His days are numbered in Ohio, and that must be bittersweet for the Buckeye Nation.
Winners: The Chalks
While there have been a few upsets in this tournament, No. 7 Florida’s loss to No. 4 Louisville guaranteed that the lowest possible seed in the Final Four would be Louisville.
The Elite Eight were three No. 1s, two No. 2s, one No. 3 and the aforementioned No. 4 and No. 7.
This means that the pool in most people’s offices will be won by some jerk who doesn’t know anything about basketball, unlike the rest of us jerks who know everything about basketball but can’t pick a winner to save our lives.
As I mentioned earlier, there has only been a handful of upsets, meaning that the Cinderella Story just isn’t going to happen this year.
There also haven’t been any buzzer-beaters, and until North Carolina’s game against Ohio in the Sweet 16, there weren’t any overtime games.
If we aren’t going to get Cinderellas, we need compelling games. Personally, I feel that this is one of the most boring tournaments I’ve ever watched. I’m not saying that every game has been bad, but this just isn’t what I sign up for every year.
I’m sure that it feels this way because we are spoiled by the Butlers and VCUs of the past few years. The talent level of the mid-major schools is getting closer to the major conferences, but that doesn’t mean that the mid-majors make deep runs every year.
Winner: The Big East Tournament
For the third year in a row, the Big East tournament champion is in the Final Four. It’s four years in a row now that the Big East champ made the Elite Eight.
Somehow, the powerhouse of powerhouse conferences can’t get its regular season champ to make a deep run, but winning the conference tournament propels a team to greatness, such as Connecticut’s unbelievable run to last year’s national championship.
Stranger things have happened than Louisville making the Final Four, but a trend is starting to form, and it will be interesting to see how far this train can go.
There are other stories going on, like VCU winning in the first round or Ohio’s great run, but I want to close my anger with the broadcast of the NCAA tournament to my computer, or lack thereof.
For the past few years, I have been able to go to work during the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament because CBS and the NCAA allowed a free feed of the tournament.
For getting this awesome privilege, we were made to watch countless advertisements and advertising campaigns, but it was fine because we got to watch basketball at work.
This year, someone decided to start charging $3.99 for this privilege.
$3.99 is not breaking the bank, but in an age of computer viruses and unscrupulous companies, I don’t feel comfortable anymore using my credit card online. I won’t presume to tell anyone how to run their company and make money, but this sucks.
We watch the ads, and you show the shows. That’s the deal.
Another issue is that, if a person pays, they still have to look at ads. I don’t want to pay a company to advertise to me. It’s bad enough that I have to sit in the movie theater for 20 minutes and watch previews of The Closer for $13.00 a ticket.
I expect better next year.