Who would have thought?
President Obama, a few weeks back, offered his annual bracket to ESPN, in the Oval Office, with Kansas defeating Ohio State in the National Championship, neither of which even made it to Houston this weekend.
This Final Four will mark the first time in the history of collegiate basketball that no No. 1 or No. 2 team will play:
Butler, UConn, Kentucky and VCU will battle it out this weekend in Houston for the NCAA Final Four – a strikingly unusual ending to a historical tournament. But is it really that unusual? This March has been, and continues to be, the fundamental appeal of sports to the sports-minded upsets.
Two months ago, the bracket layout was completely different. Had I even mentioned the idea that VCU would have beaten Kansas in terrific fashion to move ahead to the Final Four, your first reaction would have most likely been, “Who is VCU?” Virginia Commonwealth University is hardly a basketball staple but neither was Butler in 2010 or George Mason in 2006, which were both 11 seeds.
Domination by schools like Duke, UConn, Kentucky and UCLA have been drilled in the sports fans’ minds as given appearances to the final weeks in March and their position atop the hierarchy of basketball elites for the past 40 years. But like anything else in life deemed a certainty, nothing is definite; it’s merely waiting to be defeated.
Butler made it all the way to the final game last year, only to lose to Duke by a mere two points. Although a feat unto it self, collegiate basketball is becoming increasingly more unlikely.
VCU had a modest season but still won their induction to the tournament as the fourth seed in the Colonial Athletic Association. With schools like Towson University, University of Delaware and Hofstra University, they’re anything but a sports powerhouse.
And maybe that says it all. 2010 – 2011 has been a year of unlikelihood.
Who is to say that certainty and predictability makes for the best outcome or even the best performance? The simple fact remains that success is never a guarantee. And if you think it is, you’ve already lost.
In 1779, Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as VCU’s home state Governor of Virginia and was quoted as saying, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
So if the scrutiny of VCU is that they’re “lucky” to be in the tournament against the “big boys,” then I would have to agree with the criticism. They’ve been luckier this season than any other season in their history, and they’ve worked hard for it.