During the NCAA basketball tournament, the nation's attention is usually captured by the "upset" teams. Honestly, as a casual fan myself, I could probably tell you more about these first- and second- round upsets than I could about the last five years' championship games. That's probably due to the state of media coverage.
Paul Daughtery (whose most recent piece laments the introduction of sushi to the menu at Great American Ballpark) is a good old Cincinnati homebody; I do not mean that as any type of insult. He's not afraid to call 'em as he sees 'em - though, at times, he sees 'em a little superficially.
About four months ago, he wrote about Cincinnati's slim chance at a BCS title game berth. In it, he intimated that the BCS was elitist and unfair to deny a team that wasn't a traditional powerhouse a chanced to play for the title:
Maybe. But how many years? How many seasons of 10-win cred does it take a Cincinnati, or a program like it, to break the BCS glass ceiling? What if the Bearcats play, say, Alabama, in the Sugar Bowl, and roll the Tide the way Utah did? Then do they get a seat at the big boy table?
Last week, he penned an article called "Why too many upsets make a bad Final Four". It's not so much a poorly written article as it is an article that directly contradicts his previous article.
The NCAA tournament encourages the myth of equality. You, too, can be George Mason. We relish that; it's in our national DNA. Rags-to-riches. Butler-to-Indy. In America, anyone can grow up to be president.
But, not anyone does. Thank goodness. By the time March Madness reaches the middle of its second weekend, we'd prefer sanity. It beats Butler in a national semifinal.
So? Unlike Cincinnati's football team, Butler actually stuck it to some good teams on the court.
The Madness is great. Stop the Madness.
Oh what a paradox!
It's like prescribed medicine. Just because five upsets are good doesn't mean 10 are better. There is a limit to their effectiveness. It was reached when Northern Iowa KO'd Kansas in Round 2. It was exceeded when Butler beat Syracuse five days later.
And here's where he starts to go off the deep end. He spent most of the fall complaining that good football teams weren't given the same access as good football teams with traditional pedigrees. Now, he's setting up an argument to suggest that this year's NCAA tournament is a dud because good basketball teams without traditional pedigrees have beaten teams with them.
Give me a tournament where, after the first weekend, pedigrees take over and pumpkins take off. The meritocracy is assured -- yes, Ohio, you really did beat Georgetown! -- but the aristocracy is preserved.