Several schools have reached many Sweet 16’s and the Final Four, but have not quite climbed all the way to the mountaintop
The list reads almost like some type of Biblical scroll from centuries ago:
1979 Penn, DePaul, and Indiana State
1990, 1991 UNLV (Runnin’ Rebels ran away with the 1990 national title)
2006 George Mason
2010, 2011 Butler
2011 VCU (first team to win five tournament games en route to the Final Four)
2013 Wichita State
This year’s crop of mid-majors includes Gonzaga, Butler, and probably St. Mary’s of California, Brigham Young, Vermont, Winthrop, Valparaiso, and Central Michigan. Provided those last two schools win their respective conference tournaments, it will make for an interesting field come Selection Sunday.
For the mid-majors hoping to win the national championship, several factors play in to what hopefully could be a potential ratings boom for CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV.
I cite four factors into what it will take for any mid-major to win it all:
- They would have to shoot lights out, ala what Villanova did to ruin Georgetown’s dream season of repeating in 1985. Teams will have to be selective in their shot making, milk down the 30 second shot as often as possible and it leads to my second key…
- Rebounding, not just defensive but offensively as well. The more chances those schools can outsmart the big boys, they could get more chances inside the paint and maybe gain a huge advantage at the free-throw line.
- Their opponents would have to shoot ice cold and/or commit at least a dozen turnovers. Sometimes, it is one of those days where teams could miss the side of a barn and other days, the ball finds the hoop easily. With the recent increase in having the Final Four play in NFL stadiums, those chances of the big time programs shooting at a distant background could sometimes be a detriment.
- Most important factor of all, they would have to be at least trailing by no more than two points or lead by 2 or 3 points in the final minutes to have a realistic chance of making history. Too often, we have seen teams with the deeper benches from the titans of the sport dominate their mostly senior-laden opponents. The mid-major teams players usually stick around all four years and I feel that sometimes, it does not create a level playing field. Consider in the respect that the average height of players has grown from around 6’3″ in the early 1980’s to nearly 7 feet today. You can see why teams like Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Florida, Duke, and UCLA have dominated past tournaments.
Above all, even after many coaches try to instill in the players lots of inner motivation, possessing the right moxie along with having plenty of heart, guts, and all out desire could spell the difference between making history or just being a mere footnote in history.
And I do believe that before most of our final breaths on this planet Earth that we will indeed see a true mid-major cut down the nets during one Monday night in the first week of April. It might happen sooner than later if this trend of one-and-done players getting drafted to the NBA continues.
If I am right, somehow someway–singing the annual anthem of “One Shining Moment” will sound oh so sweet.