If you wish to argue that the 2023 NCAA males’s basketball match has been unhealthy: You’re improper. You’re factually, objectively improper. I completely get being disenchanted your staff didn’t go additional or having an axe to grind with the method due to all the highest seed failure — however stepping away from emotion this match hasn’t simply been unbelievable, however historic.
The 2023 Ultimate 4 is the primary time within the historical past of the match that there isn’t a No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 seed left. It’s a must to return to 2011 when UConn gained the nationwide championship from a 3 seed to discover a decrease mixed seeding. This yr now we have unprecedented parity. Brackets worshiping the altar of chalk torn aside by these 4 groups, all of whom have gotten to this second on the again of not less than one unbelievable upset.
Annually we relish in March Insanity, nevertheless it’s typically not that “mad.” Certain, there’s the inevitable 12-seed beating a No. 5, just a few upsets alongside the way in which, maybe the Cinderella staff no one predicted who inevitably loses within the Elite Eight — however as we maintain sifting down, we’re nearly all the time left with that wonderful, chalky powder on the finish. Final yr’s Ultimate 4 featured two No. 2 seeds and a No. 1, 2021 gave us two No. 1s and a No. 2 earlier than that.
In 2023 now we have a No. 4, two No. 5s, and a No. 9. Parity on the grandest stage in males’s faculty basketball, and when you’re somebody getting all angsty about this “not representing the common season,” you’re improper — and that argument solely holds water on paper. Actually, this Ultimate 4 completely represents the boys’s faculty basketball season we witnessed. It was an undoubtably bizarre yr, the place no one was a real standout lock earlier than the season started. Hell, within the preseason rankings North Carolina had been the favorites to chop down the nets, they usually ended up rejecting an NIT bid out of embarrassment. Of the preseason High 25 we had eight groups fail to make the match in any respect.
A part of this was as a result of a determined lack of NBA star energy this match. The highest two professional prospects, Victor Wenbanyama and Scoot Henderson are taking alternate paths to the NBA — whereas solely 5 of the High 10 gamers in our newest mock draft had been within the match in any respect. This wasn’t a season that could possibly be gained by recruiting or bullying with superior expertise alone, and 2023 has proven that system, fundamentals, and scheme have been vastly extra essential than one or two nice gamers.
Isn’t this what we all the time needed? Nobody-and-done phenoms placing of their NCAA penance. No overloaded star roster operating everybody out of the health club. No Energy 5 domination whereas the remainder of the basketball peasants had been left to select up the scraps. Actually, that is the primary Ultimate 4 since seeding started in 1979 that doesn’t function a single former McDonald’s All-American, and there isn’t one participant left within the match who was a High 30 recruit. Each staff left within the match labored their asses off to get thus far by growing as a staff, executing a plan that might flip neglected gamers into champions, and spitting on the notion that solely 5 conferences matter.
Just one Energy 5 faculty stays: Miami from the ACC. Hardly the basketball luminaries anticipated out of the Atlantic Coast Convention.
The Mountain West had a 3-18 document within the NCAA match since 2015 — till San Diego State’s run this yr.
UConn had been tenth within the ultimate AP Ballot of the season and anticipated to run right into a Kansas buzzsaw within the match and failing that shedding to both UCLA or Gonzaga.
Florida Atlantic… what’s left to say? The Owls have been completely sensational this match and confirmed they had been getting slept on.
It’s moments like this that remind us why now we have a 68 staff match to determine the very best staff in males’s faculty basketball. It’s designed to be the brutal gauntlet to shut out the season, rewarding groups capable of survive in its crucible. So to see so many followers be dismissive of the method, declare that it’s by some means flawed, and doesn’t “actually determine the very best staff in basketball” is totally ridiculous. That argument is simply now being utilized when the Ultimate 4 includes a group of unpredictable groups, when prior to now, when chalk has dominated — by some means it was wonderful.
We name this “March Insanity” for a cause. This yr’s match has embraced the chaos like nothing earlier than it, and we’ve been gifted a bracket from the basketball gods actually price of that “insanity” moniker. Benefit from the journey, love the unpredictability, and marvel on the basketball these remaining groups play — as a result of we would by no means see it once more.