Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Madness 2011: Agnus Dei

My bracket is kaput, as I would imagine most people's are at this point. Kentucky gave me my last points by making the Final Four. On the up side, I can now finish no worse than fifth out of 18 in the group with Mock & Co.

Amazingly, I have a second chance bracket that's still alive. My main one is finished but my fairy tale one is still going strong. If VCU continues its amazing run, I'll look like a genius.

Photo via The Wichita Eagle

The VCU Rams are quite an amazing story. And the discussion about whether or not they belonged in the tournament in the first place needs to stop. NCAA Tournament selection is, even in the best light, an inexact science. As a mid-major conference squad with a 22-11 overall record, VCU was definitely a bubble team. But I've always believed that if a team won its first tournament game, they belonged. Period. Well, the Rams won their first five. VCU has demonstrated beyond any doubt that they are a better team than many seeded ahead of them - a lot better. They have not been merely winning their games. They've won convincingly against outstanding teams.

Photo via DePauw University

The Butler basketball story keeps getting better, too. Clearly, last year was no fluke. Clearly, they're still plenty good even without Gordon Hayward. Clearly, Brad Stevens is a genius. As long as he sticks around as coach, the Bulldogs will be a first-rate national power.

And so, the Final Four are a 3-seed, a 4-seed, an 8-seed and an 11-seed. We all saw that coming, right? I will be horribly disappointed if either UConn or UK, decorated members of the old guard, walks away with the title. If, 20 years from now, the list of champions does not read "2011 - Butler" or "2011 - VCU," will anyone remember what an extraordinary tournament this has been? Will anyone beyond the state lines of Connecticut or Kentucky be pulling for the traditional powers next Monday night?

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