2018 Tourney Could Lead to New Mindset Going Forward

31 Mar

The 2018 NCAA Tournament has been historic thanks to the University of Maryland Baltimore County becoming the first 16 seed to beat a #1 seed, but not just any #1 seed the tournament’s top overall seed Virginia.  Not to be outdone Missouri Valley champ Loyola-Chicago has made a run to the Final Four as an 11 seed.  No matter what comes of the final three games in San Antonio the ramifications of this year’s tournament will be felt years into the future.

To be successful in March the age-old adages apply.  A team needs to have good guard play, veteran leadership (usually in the backcourt), a good defense and some teams go on a run with some hot shooting.  The 2018 tournament is no different.  The four teams that have reached San Antonio check all of those boxes for a deep tournament run.

All four teams have upperclassmen guards leading the way; Kansas has Devonte Graham, Villanova has Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, Michigan has Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Cinderella Loyola-Chicago has high school teammates Ben Richardson and Clayton Custer.

All four teams have shot at least 45% during the tournament while allowing opponents to shoot no more than 43%.

This tournament has been called historic, not only because of #16 UMBC’s historic upset of #1 Virginia but because Loyola, a true mid major seeded 11th has reached the Final Four and their path to San Antonio is not one that would be typical for an 11 seed.  After beating #6 Miami by two points they beat SEC regular season champ Tennessee by a point to reach the Sweet 16.  Instead of having to face #2 Cincinnati in the regional semifinal they faced off against #7 Nevada where they again won by a single point, marking the first time in tournament history that a team had won its first three games by a total of four points or less.  As a result of UMBC’s historic first-time #16 over a #1 defeat of Virginia, Loyola got to face #9 Kansas State in the regional final with a trip to San Antonio on the line.  Unlike their previous three games however, this one, the most important one was never in doubt.  The Ramblers were in control from start to finish, defeating Kansas State 78-62.

Next year’s version of the tournament very well might revert to the less drama, big name teams reaching the Final Four type we have seen in the past.  However, never again will a #16 have to wonder if they can beat a #1 seed, it has been done and now every 16 can say why not us? Why can’t we do what UMBC did?  In the same vein now every mid major, double digit seed and at-large that barely made the field can say if Loyola can make the Final Four so can we.

How many times have we seen teams get close to an upset only to fade away in the last minutes?  This year’s tournament could also have a big psychological effect moving forward.  Every potential upset game that is close at the half opens up a new can of worms that the favorite and the underdog have never had to deal with.  Now both teams have historical context to draw upon and how teams react in these situations going forward will be fascinating.

Thank you to UMBC, Loyola-Chicago, the upsets, the exciting finishes and great performances that have made this tournament amazing, but also thank you for now making tournaments going forward even more fun to watch given the historic context we can now all look back on.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: