from Connor Riley
March 11, 2014, 3:50 p.m.
Earlier today on StoriesHouse, Nick Suss wrote an article saying that: A) Florida is overrated B) Nobody deserves to be a one seed and C) There are no great teams in college basketball. I am here to disagree with those statements in one way or another.
Over the years the way I have watched college basketball has changed considerably. Sure I still watch more than a normal human being should, but I watch more for a select set of individuals rather than can Team X beat Team Y. And while there are issues with this way of viewing, I picked Gonzaga to win it all last based solely on Kelly Olynyk's high-post game and hair, for the most part I get what most people do out of watching the games. And despite what my friend and colleague Nick will tell you, this has been an excellent year for college basketball.
We will start with Florida, the unquestioned best team in college basketball. While Nick brings up valid points in that the SEC is having a "down" year,and that their non-conference resume is not spectacular, Florida is absolutely deserving of a one seed. In basketball, odds are that if you play enough games you are going to have an off night and lose at some point. That wasn't the case with Florida. Sure they had some close road games, but winning on the road is the hardest thing to do in college basketball and they did it all year. They lost to UConn on a buzzer beater and were without SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin for the final three minutes due to injury. They were also without Wilbekin and SEC sixth man of the year Dorian Finney-Smith against Wisconsin due to suspension. NCAA tournament games are played on neutral court sites, so the Gators will not have to face a hostile road environment. While the Gators don't have a key contributor that will play more then five years in the NBA, this is the best TEAM, and their 29-2 win-loss record pails to almost no one.
In my opinion there are three teams that have already deservedly locked up one seeds. Florida, as mentioned above, Wichita State, if you go unbeaten you deserve a one seed in today's era given the media attention a team will receive, and Arizona. The Arizona Wildcats have the strongest out of conference resume with wins @Michigan, home against San Diego State, and over Duke at MSG. Losing Brandon Ashley has hurt this team, but the Wildcats are still the best defensive team in the country per KenPom rankings. Their three losses have come on the road, and were all close games decided in the final minute. Go back and look at other number one seeds in the past, and you will find similar losses.
The issue is that it appears nobody wants to be the fourth number one seed. Duke could've made a serious case, but lost on the road to Wake Forest. Syracuse lost at home to Georgia Tech. Kansas lost at West Virgina, and then lost freshman sensation Joel Embid for at least two weeks due to back issues. Wisconsin lost at Nebraska on Sunday. Virgina lost at Maryland. All of those teams were contenders for a number one seed, and all of those teams lost in the past week. I'm not going to give Creighton a one seed considering they lost by a thousand, approximately, the two times they played Creighton and they play in the inferior new Big East. Michigan won the Big Ten regular season title outright, but unless they win the Big Ten tournament, which I don't see them doing, they don't have the resume. Lastly we have Louisville who is one of the hottest teams in America right now. The problem is the only quality wins they have are a season sweep over UConn and one point road win over Cincinnati. If they win the American Athletic Conference tourney they would have a stronger case, but I don't see them doing that. When it is all said and done on Sunday I say the fourth one seed will go to Duke, because I think they will win they ACC title and get wins over Syracuse and Virgina in the process.
Lastly, and most importantly Nick said there are no great teams in the tournament. Well guess what, people have been saying that for years. Going into the tournament in 2012 nobody said Kentucky was a great team. No one thought the 2007 Florida Gators were that great either, even though they were coming off a championship season and had 3 legit NBA players on the team. Same with the North Carolina Tar Heels of 2009.Winning championships validated those teams as "great". In today's modern college basketball landscape it is impossible for there to be a "great" team. With all of the best players jumping to the NBA after one season, it has hurt the product of college basketball. Guys don't stick around longer because they can just develop their games in the NBA, get paid to do it, and not have to sit through an anthropology lecture. Change is coming though. It is widely believed that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants to up the minimum age to 20, basically saying that players will have to be two years removed from high school to play. While this might help college basketball, it could also hurt it in the sense that more players forgo college and go play in the d-league. The NBA is slowly developing the d-league into a minor league system of sorts, and there is a way in which I could see players skipping the crooked NCAA to go earn money, albeit minimum money, in the d-league. And until the NBA fixes this problem, I don't know if we will ever see an "elite" team ever again in college basketball.