Kansas Jayhawks' Abrupt Fall from Grace Displays Opposite End of March Madness

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Kansas Jayhawks' Abrupt Fall from Grace Displays Opposite End of March Madness
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Kansas Jayhawks Thomas Robinson and the Morris Twins sit stunned as VCU upset the Jayhawks

College basketball’s finest night culminated with Jim Calhoun and his Connecticut Huskies hoisting the 2011 James Naismith Championship Trophy.  The Huskies spoiled Brad Stevens’ Butler Bulldogs second straight trip to the NCAA title game, winning by the final of 53-41.

Did the 2011 national championship game live up to its billing?

Did the best team in the field of 68 come out on top?

If there are a few pondering thoughts to tie over college basketball fans throughout the land, the above mentioned questions have been the top two peaking the interest of most.

Before March Madness tips off, millions scramble around their television sets in anticipation of the unveiling of the field of 68.  Revealed and finalized, ink cartridges strenuously work overtime printing out brackets displaying each of the four regions consisting of team seedings.

On paper, predicting one’s favorites to win it all appear to be a no-brainer.  Higher seeds advance with the occasional shocker in between, but picking the 6/11, 7/10 and 8/9 matchups have the tendency to hold one’s bracket hostage.

There is a solution to the quandary.  Print out as many brackets as you possibly can to cover every angle imaginable.  Some consider this practice overkill, while other deems this the most logical method in terms of owning the most accurate bracket. 

Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Terrance Jones elevates over David Lighty in Kentucky's upset win over Ohio State.

No matter who you are, everyone loves to witness a major upset in the NCAA Tournament.  Fans of the top-seeded schools are no different.  Eliminating the competition to ensure a smooth path to the Final Four is a perfectly normal mindset.  You’d be hard-pressed to find an overwhelming amount fans desiring the Murderer’s Row style bracket.  Somehow, someway, those fans will creep out of the woodwork and onto the main stage professing their hope to knock off as many of elite teams as possible.

People who are fans of the top-seeded teams in the field believe, with every fiber of their being, their team will survive the six games required to take home the championship trophy, and rightfully so.  It’s no mystery many of the higher ranked teams will be favored to advance deeper in March, but keep in mind of one thing.

The end of the road is cruel and abrupt, and no team has immunity from being dispatched. 

As a fan of any elite university, are you prepared for the end?

No, this is not a reference to the Bible’s version of Armageddon or anything like that.  Remember as the tournament progresses, the competition firms up in spite of how things look on paper.  Teams don’t find themselves in the regional finals by pure accident.  Most have earned the trip and will fight tooth and nail to stave off elimination. 

College basketball fanatics easily get lost in watching major upsets live while waiting for their teams to play.  Whether it is stated out loud, fans love the upset.  They need it and openly invite the opportunity gossip about their team's odds of winning following the loss of an equal threat.

Once again, how are fans of top-seeded teams prepared to be bounced?

In 2011, Jayhawk Nation found themselves shell-shocked as the eleventh-seeded VCU Rams, powered by Shaka Smart, handed Kansas an Elite Eight exit.  Going in, Kansas had earned the No. 1 seed in the Southwest Region with many picking them to win the national championship. 

One year earlier, ninth- seeded Northern Iowa stunned Bill Self and his Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the tournament.  The 2010 Jayhawks strolled into the tournament with the No. 1 overall seed and saw a similar result.

2006 marked a banner season for an unlikely Final Four.  Kansas fans can recall the devastation of losing to Bradley in the first round.  However it was the run by eleventh-seeded George Mason who captured the true underdog role and rode it to the Final Four.  In defeating the overall No. 1 seeded Connecticut Huskies, the Patriots joined LSU in destroying tournament brackets nationwide.

Kansas fans breathed a sigh of relief knowing their Jayhawks weren’t the only group exiting stage right courtesy of the little guy.  In addition, George Mason’s journey fascinated everyone, including college basketball’s lead experts.

Fast forward to 2011.  VCU’s deep march left Jayhawk fans on the reverse end of the spectrum and searching for a reason why.  Blame for the loss spread in every direction, which, let’s be honest here, didn’t shock a lot of people.  For Jayhawk Nation, the loss was upsetting no matter how you slice it.

The aftermath of the loss caused KU fans to walk away from watching anymore of the tournament.

How did you respond?

Did you vomit uncontrollably and refuse to watch the remainder of the tournament?

Were you able to gut out the loss and continue watching?

Did you follow the team who eliminated your team?

Either way, the show must go on.  Regular season accolades become null and void and the seedings mean next to nothing, especially after the opening weekend of the tournament. Overlooking the team in front of you spells disaster.

Until next college basketball season, keep in mind how tough it is to win six games in the NCAA Tournament.  Treading recklessly without caution on a live minefield doesn’t bode well for those with high aspirations of winning a national title.

The nature of March Madness is all about execution.  One bad day and the season is prematurely derailed until practice begins next October.

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