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Posts Tagged ‘ncaa tournament expansion’

Butler’s run to a near NCAA championship raised a lot of eyebrows.  Duke cutting down the nets should have raised just as many.  The 2010 NCAA tournament was crazy.  The sure things – Kansas and Kentucky – did not make it to the Final Four.  High 2 and 3 seeds – Villanova, Georgetown, New Mexico and Pittsburgh – missed out on the Sweet Sixteen.  Two 5 seeds made it to the Final Four.

Get used to this craziness because in my opinion it is going to continue.  The college basketball world is much different now than it was even five years ago.  What has changed?

  1. The One and Done Rule – When the NBA changed their rules to say that a potential draftee had to wait a year after his high school class graduated before entering the draft it changed college basketball in a big way.  Now the 5-10 players who would have entered the draft are going to play for a college team for one year.  Notice I didn’t say “go to college.”  As a result the talent factories, like Kentucky now is, will continue to add top talent but will have very little continuity and even less upper class leadership.  The programs with the most talent will have little experience and the programs with the most experience will have less talent.  This factor levels the playing field.  Duke is by no means the most talented team in the country.  But they had three senior leaders playing huge minutes.  That is why they persevered while the big boys fell and were the ones standing on the ladder when all was said and done.
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  3. Televison Exposure – This has been happening for a while but has exploded even more in the past few years.  ESPNU, ESPN3 (formerly 360), CBS College Sports, Fox Sports, Versus and probably even more cable channels are carrying college basketball in addition to ESPN and ESPN2.  Almost every Division 1 program gets a good amount of TV time.  No longer does a top recruit have to go to a major program and sit behind an upperclassman for a year or two before getting quality playing time.  They can go to a quality mid-major program, get immediate playing time and have a chance at earlier stardom. 
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  5. Coaching – In college basketball the coaches are really the stars.  The players come and go but it’s really the head coach that represents the program.  I believe that the innovation in college basketball coaching is starting to match that of college football.  In the past the head coach would implement their offensive and defensive systems and leave the players to run both.  A new generation of head coaches is taking a different approach.  They are analyzing the matchups and planning accordingly.  I read that Butler coach Brad Stevens has a ridiculous number of plays in the playbook.  This group of coaches is also very smart about recruiting.  They are finding the best fits for their system and going after those players.

So prepare for more unpredictability in the NCAA tournament.  Of course, once the NCAA officially makes the big money grab and expands to 96 teams everything will change again.

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