In the spirit of this Wall Street Journal article, the NCAA Tournament is essentially a crapshoot in a way. In my opinion, the same goes for the NFL playoffs in terms of parity. With so many teams year in and year out entering the tournament, is the winner of this tournament truly the best team in the nation? Let's take a look at the ratings. If you the computer rankings of KenPom, Sagarin and Massey you get a range of 5-10 for UConn and 20-37 for Butler. If the BCS was in control of the tournament we would almost certainly see Ohio State and Kansas for the championship.
It just makes you wonder how much the regular season really matters in college basketball. Since there is a tournament at the end where
64 68 teams are able to compete. Case in point Virginia Commonwealth, who somehow made it to the final four who has a range in the computer rankings of 36-54. They were in a play-in game. Nobody thought that they would be able to make it as far as they did. It seems as though the regular season matters much more in college football and say what you want about the BCS, the best teams are usually the ones that make the title game.
What is so special about VCU and the Butler Bulldogs that are now in the national title game? Upperclassmen leadership is a big thing. Matt Howard, their strong forward and efficient shooter is a senior, PG Shelvin Mack is a junior. Another senior, a junior and a sophomore round out their starting lineup. Same goes for VCU who started 4 seniors and a junior on their team.
Brad Stevens was only 34 when he took over the Bulldogs in 2007. It didn't take him long to start winning games and don't forget that they made the national championship last year as well!
All it takes is the right coach in the right situation to make an impact. Just look at what the Ohio Bobcats did to the Georgetown Hoyas just a year ago in John Groce's second year there after coming from Ohio State. College basketball is such a "now" sport, but the small schools have to combine talent, hardwork and good coaching to make a good tourney team. Will it happen to NIU in the near future? Only time will tell, but all you have to do is win the conference and you have a chance at going far.