Some people have been down on college basketball for quite some time as college basketball has gone through a recent transition period in terms of lack of great teams. Some of the basketball experts are relating the poor quality of college basketball teams to a lack of talent, as result of kids leaving early for the NBA, which I disagree. Yes, the top players leaving early for the NBA does have a draining effect on college basketball’s overall talent however talent alone doesn’t make a great team. A great team consists of a great leader and “basketball man” as their head coach while good chemistry amongst all team members, hard work, excellent communication and a little luck with injuries is also involved.
Take Kentucky last year, for example, was amongst the favorites (if not the favorite) to win the title as the Wildcats were loaded with individual talent such as Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe. However Kentucky, along with their five first-round draft picks, got bounced from the tournament by West Virginia in the Elite Eight 71-63 because despite their individual talent they weren’t a great team. A year later Kentucky, after defeating a very talented North Carolina Tar Heels team 74-69, is in Final Four two wins from becoming national champions. This isn’t to say Kentucky isn’t talented, the Wildcats freshmen Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight are projected to be lottery draft picks in the upcoming NBA draft, but it has been more their solid defensive and team play that has pulled them through the tournament unscathed. Defensively, Kentucky hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 70 points or shoot better than 47% from the field in any of their four tournament games. In addition, the Wildcats have a 51 to 44 assist to turnover ratio.
More to the point, this year’s tournament has offered everything a person passionate about basketball would want. The basketball has been exciting and drama filled and there have been many surprises along the way such as Butler and Virginia Commonwealth reaching the Final Four. There also have been many great plays, some boneheaded plays (for example, Pitt’s Nasir Robinson foul of Butler’s Matt Howard with 0.8 seconds left),star players (BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Duke’s Nolan Smith, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger) producing and of course, unheralded players stepping up their games . All in all, out of the 64 games played, 19 games saw the lower seeded team win and 25 games were close (games within five to seven points or less) including five overtimes. The best thing is each of the four teams left have legitimate chance of being crowned national champions as there is no prohibitive favorite.
“Men’s Basketball Division I Championship” NCAA.Com