Kentucky, UConn, VCU, or Butler Don’t Deserve to be National Champions

In less than a week, one of the four remaining teams in the NCAA tournament is going to be called the National Champion for the 2011 men’s basketball season. You may as well prepare for it now because either UConn, Kentucky, Butler, or VCU fans will have an infomercial running for the next six weeks encouraging them to pick up their championship gear.

Think about the following. Our national champion is either going to be: a three seed that was exactly average in its conference, going 9-9 good for a 9th place finish; a four seed that failed to win its conference division, lost six out of 16 games in conference, and dropped games to two 7-9 teams; an eight seed that lost nine games including ones to a team that went 2-16 in conference and another that went 16-16; or an 11 seed that lost 11 games including ones to a 3-15 team, and two 6-12 teams.

At this point you may think that I’m selectively picking out the flaws on the resume of these teams but that’s part of the point; a national champion should have very few flaws because it earned its way to the title game based on excellence throughout the regular season.

Ask yourself these questions: Is winning your conference or playing well throughout the year no longer important? Does it even matter what you’ve done during the season or only what you do in one single-game elimination tournament? Do you care that the team that will go down as a national champion does not even have to be more than an average team from its conference?

What you have to do is recognize that the college basketball season is meaningless and that the NCAA tournament only gives us a tournament champion, not the true best team in college basketball. In reality, it does the poorest job of all the sports yielding the best team each season.

Sports fans love to rip on the BCS, but at least that ensures one of the best teams in the sport will win the national title every year. It may not be all-inclusive like the college basketball tournament, but its exclusivity rewards excellence during a four-month season, not superiority over a six-game stretch.

Just so you don’t get the message wrong, you must understand I don’t have anything against the schools personally. My problem is that Ohio State and Kansas only lost twice throughout the season but are at home because they fell in the tournament. My problem is that Duke only lost four times all year and is now viewed as a failure, as is Pitt which only lost five times. Those four teams were the best in college basketball and should have been the ones playing for a national championship.

Rather than turn the final four into a pair of three-game series and excluding everyone else, why not make it a double-elimination tournament where the teams that earned their spots the most can have a second chance to prove how good they are?

The NBA playoffs yield the best team in the league because you have to beat your opponent four times in order to advance, and you can’t luck your way into four wins out of seven. The College World Series is a double-elimination tournament that used to play a single championship game to determine the winner for TV purposes. They realized how unfair it was to determine a champion that way and switched to a best of three series. The more games there are between teams, the more you ensure the best team advances, but unfortunately we’re only seeking thrills, not rewarding deserving teams.

I could come up with plenty of ways to construct a tournament that would help yield a more deserving champion but I know that’s not what people want. Nobody wants to limit the field to fewer teams that have actually earned the right to play for a national title. Nobody wants a double-elimination tournament because you can’t fit that on one bracket sheet.

I know I’m in the minority with this opinion because most folks love the tournament and find the madness to be extremely enjoyable and entertaining, but as a true sports fan I feel like the tournament completely cheapens the season.

I’ll watch the Final Four games because that’s part of what we do here at LBS. Sadly, I won’t have complete satisfaction knowing that the best teams from the season are sitting at home because of a flawed tournament structure.

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  • Anonymous

    Flawed system or not, if UConn wins 11 games in a row against the competition they’ve played, they certainly deserve something. Maybe a new trophy called the LBS Award?

  • Anonymous

    Dude, coming from someone who isn’t even a college basketball fan, I think your logic is completely flawed. How can you honestly say that VCU and Butler lucked their way into the Final Four? If Ohio State and Pitt and so on are supposed to be the best of the best, they should have won their games, end of story. You know you have ONE SHOT at advancing, you play to your full potential, the way you did all season long in order to finish with just four or five losses. It seems to me that the teams with nothing to lose always play harder when it counts. Screw the NBA and their seven game series. These kids have one chance to beat the best teams and when they do, you call it luck? No, it’s not luck, it’s heart. The Ohio State players should be sitting at home saying “We got out played by a team who wanted it more than we did. We should be ashamed.” Those top teams are home now because they didn’t play as hard as the four teams left in the tourney. How you can call that luck is beyond me.

  • http://twitter.com/ainsworth Jon Boyle

    This is coming from a guy that just two weeks ago said that VCU should’ve been in the Main Draw not a play-in game. It’s about the last man standing. MLB teams that win the World Series only win about 63% of their games.

  • Anonymous

    I know. Let’s go to a BCS style system and get rid of the NCAA champion. That would solve everything.

    I suspect this was written because the writers bracket exposed him.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LFHZJGW4Y6KIH725OXU2FN6V3A Joel

    As Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it”

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    UConn is a very good team that’s been playing well. If they win it all, they will have the honor of being named tournament champ

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Who do you think wins a 7-game series between Duke-VCU, Ohio State-Butler, etc?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B4G2XTZPXY6KUIKBWCJ4TSCKM4 Blake

    Like it or not Larry Brown? This NCAA TOURNEY, as all NCAA tourneys, are comprised by a selection committee. A committee that shows NO favoritism by their selections. Since it is the season that determines who gets a bid to go to “the dance with a chance”, the NCAA wisely comprises such a committee that determines the field by studying and using statistics that are compiled all year long. Something they have done year in and year out, they select teams for the TOURNEY that will make it a successful one. They consistently have come up with the best teams. Teams who each possess very acute and particular merits, a chance by earning a bid to be part of the NCAA Tourney. They are the best teams in the country they (meaning the committee) have selected to comprise (not compromise) to ensure it to be such a TOURNEY.
    This years teams are prime examples of why such selections (West Regional Champions #3 Connecticut, East Regional Champions #4 Kentucky, Southwest Regional Champions #11 VCU and Southeast Regional Champions #8 Butler), all peaked at the correct and precise time, by outstanding coaching, playing the game hard as it was always meant to be played during a tourney like this, have each individually earned their way, without a doubt, the distinction to be in Houston. Regardless or your opinion, each of these teams do DESERVE to be in the Final Four. Each with a much deserving chance to become this years National Champions of The NCAA TOURNEY.

  • Anonymous

    Wow!! You cannot be serious??? Those schools such as Duke, Pitt etc earned the distinction of holding the best regular season records. After that comes the tournaments. Period. Any the ones and twos simply did not make it. Having the alleged “easier” draws in the NCAA tourney or in the case of the Big East tournament, double byes. Those were the kind of perks and rewards their regular season accomplishments got them. And they choked. Like the Patriots were clearly the best team in the regular season, they chocked in the post season.
    But to diminish on any level what UCONN has accomished in tournament play is utterly ignorant and assinine! They are u defeated in tournament play from Maui to the Big East to the berth in the Final Four. They have been nothing less than spectacular! What they have done is unprecedented. They received no free ride, or double byes or easy draws. They faught for everything they have. We watched them grow and mature as a solid team with nothing to lose, everything to prove. This team is writing a story for the ages in college basketball history. It has been a thrill to watch. Preseason polls had UCONN out of the 68 teams to make the NCAA tourney, out of the top 25, and scraping the bottom of the Big East standings. They went on a mission to prove this voters wrong… A record smashing tour de force through College basketball. And you might want to check back, but they have beaten many of the very teams you are hailing as the only ones deserving to be where UCONN is. You must not have seen the commercial that says,”Where will amazing happen this year?”… the answer is simple .. UCONN UCONN UCONN!!!! Congrats Huskies…. What a ride… and it’s not over!!!

  • Anonymous

    I think your statements are severely flawed. The BCS in football is a joke. It is an “exclusive country club”, which guarantees that the champion is only going to come from a “super conference”. Trust me, Boise could beat every team 63-0, and they would finish no higher than 3rd, guaranteeing their exclusion.
    If you want to try to argue that these teams didn’t belong in the tournament, you mention nothing of the fact that the big ten was generally weak, yet they got 7 teams in, instead of the 3 that earned it. Meanwhile, Alabama WINS THEIR DIVISION with an excellent record in the SEC and doesn’t even get in.
    Even if some can’t accept it, the big powers are not necessarily the world beaters that they think they are. Upsets by “non-powers” during the season, which used to be non-existent, now happen much more frequently, and even when the power wins, there are also many close games. You mention Duke and Ohio State, and you also seem to be totally hung up on win-loss records. I watched Duke several times, and felt that they were nothing stellar, especially on the road, where they are less likely to get to the free throw line a million times, like they always get at home. Ohio State was good, but not spectacular. Pitt’s talent has never been able to overcome their inconsistency. You chop up Ct. for going 9-9 in the big east (an INCREDIBLY tough conference this year)…you fail to mention they were TWENTY ONE AND ZERO against the rest of the country, and you also bash Kentucky for a 10-6 conference record….they were 19-2 against the rest of the world. You discredited Butler….laughable….a jumper away from winning it all last year…..yep, they had a rougher season this year, but still did well with a tougher schedule, and are going into the final 4 with 13 wins in a row.
    Sorry, but your private “country club” approach will not fly here, as the NCAA hoops tourney is the closest thing to a democracy……win or go home. Simple, and fair. I remember in 1974……UCLA’s streak ended, and there were 4 exceptional teams…..NC State (champion), UCLA, Maryland, and Notre Dame. The ACC tourney title game between Maryland/NC State was probably one of the greatest games ever. Maryland couldn’t even go to the dance because of the conference loss. You imply that a team is not deserving of a final four if they don’t win their conference or tourney…….you would have a hard time saying Maryland wasn’t deserving of a tournament bid that year, even though they didn’t beat NC State.
    If the committee is guilty of anything, it is not involving teams like VCU or Butler, but over-rating some conferences, and letting teams in on past or pre-season reputations, and not their current season.
    However, they are at least recognizing that there are some fine teams from “non-power” conferences, and are giving them a shot. All of your favorites are gone because they were BEATEN, and no poll or power rating can ever change that.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5XW6LIZJV3HCHUJHK73BQKQ7RQ Debster

    Hear hear! There are great, great arguments here for why the NCAA tourney is fine the way it is – if anything, the committee should more strongly consider teams from, as Bob984 says above, “non-power” conferences. Win-loss records are great, but definitely conference strength plays a factor in that. C’mon, I know every team can have a bad day, but a number one seed like Duke (overrated) that loses by double digits to a number five seed doesn’t deserve to be national champs. And you can’t explain away VCU’s amazing run here. Beating number one Kansas by ten points? Butler got no respect with a number eight seed. The VCUs and the Butlers are playing their hearts out; it’s obvious to anyone watching. Sure, the Dukes and the Ohio States want it, but really not nearly as badly, and that makes all the difference in NCAA Tourneyland.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I never said small schools shouldn’t be involved. I’m saying stricter settings should be in place before teams are allowed to compete for the national championship. If you don’t do well enough in your regular season you don’t deserve a chance to win the national title. This is not a small school thing, it’s an importance of the regular season issue.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe I just wasted 3 minutes of my life reading this article…Horrible. Will never read anything by you ever again. I think the main point your missing is that this is NOT THE NBA…This is not baseball. This is the NCAA Basketball tournament, which is deigned for young college students to have a chance to compete, a chance to prove themselves and to each other and what they are capable of accomplishing. The most important aspect of NCAA basketball is the development of these young men to become outstanding and productive members of society. Its all about taking the moment and the opportunity given to you and making the best of it. I think you have a horribly skewed perspective and your arrogance is definitely reflected in your writing.

  • Anonymous

    I agree Larry. It would like having to watch Memphis play Phoenix in the NBA finals. I will still watch, but without any excitement. Anyhow, baseball starts tomorrow. Go Cubs!

  • Anonymous

    Like it or not, one of these teams will be crowned as the 2011 NCAA national champion and will have earned that distinction! No one can or should discount the hard work, execution and tremendous accomplishment it took for these teams to make the Final Four. In my book, they’re all deserving and next week we’ll know who really is the best team in college basketball.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Yup, if everything were done on a one-game basis, single-elimination style, anything could happen. The Cavs just beat the Heat. You need to check out my MLB picks, you’ll like where I put the Cubbies