Archived Story

March Madness has turned into March Sadness

Published 10:20am Thursday, March 27, 2014

The 2014 version of the NCAA basketball tournament is a poor excuse of what used to be something special.
This year, the NCAA has outdone itself by dissecting a once storied tournament into little fragments and mini-subplots that will leave us way-short of what we expected.
Translation: The NCAA is “Shockin’ Awful.”
That specifically goes for the selection committee and anyone who is affiliated with the selection committee.  The NCAA has reached new lows and unfortunately, the beat goes on.
Has anyone ever heard of oversight?
We are mercifully down to 16 teams, and looking over the teams, there is nothing “sweet” about it.
Does anyone remember the game last Sunday? You know, the game that should have never been played until, say … the final game?
Oh, what drama, passion and intensity.
It’s a crying shame that Wichita State and Kentucky had to meet on the first weekend instead of the last.
Was unbeaten Wichita State unfairly thrown into a death-trap pod when they were bracketed with Kentucky? Yes. The Shockers were 34-0, but even your grandmother was well aware that the Wildcats were not a No. 8 seed.
Top seeds Virginia, Arizona and Florida collectively crushed their No. 8 and No. 9 opponents by 57 points.
Kentucky versus Wichita State was fantastic, but it was wrong and way too soon.
Kentucky annually signs the best crop of high school players in the country, and Wichita State brings in misfits who grow into their roles.
If you told me you picked Dayton to play Stanford in the round of 16, I would say you were drunk and blindfolded. The NCAA has proven once again to be a mess of contradictions.
In the South, Florida versus UCLA is an intriguing match-up.  I am going with the Bruins here, but only the late John Wooden can answer why.
In the East, Virginia and Michigan State will be the one to watch. I like the Spartans. The West has Arizona and San Diego State as the key game. The Wildcats will show why they are the No. 1 seed.
In the Midwest, we have Louisville and Kentucky. Every NCAA tournament benefits when both these teams are forced to sing “My Old Kentucky Home” together on a basketball court.
The Southeastern Conference was so weak this year it earned only three bids, and Tennessee needed overtime to beat Iowa in a play-in game.
Well, guess what? Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee are still hanging around going into the round of 16. How sweet it is for the SEC.
The conference can now try to lobby for three schools in the Final Four, months before it attempts to do the same in the new four-team college football playoff.
Other games involving teams in the Sweet Sixteen 16:
South: Dayton versus Stanford.
East: Iowa State versus Connecticut.
West: Baylor versus Wisconsin.
Midwest: Tennessee versus Michigan.
My Elite Eight picks are as follows: UCLA, Stanford, Michigan State, Iowa State, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Louisville.
Notes on a scorecard: This is only the second time since the tournament was expanded in 1985 that both North Carolina and Duke were eliminated during the first weekend.
Iowa State is in the final 16 for the first time since 2000. The Cyclones defeated North Carolina to advance.
The NCAA started all of this back in 1939, with Oregon winning the first ever championship.
UCLA holds the record for championships with 11.  Teams still in the hunt and their championships are Kentucky (8), Connecticut (3), Louisville (3), Florida (2), and Michigan State (2).
Until next time …
Meyers is a sports columnist for The Outlook. You can follow him on Twitter at @brucemeyers11.