So Villanova fell to N.C. State yesterday. It was the second straight year that the Wildcats got a 1- or 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament and lost in the Round of 32, and it brings up an interesting idea about success. Let's say NC State reaches the Elite Eight, then loses. Which season would you look back on more fondly: Villanova's or NC State's?
Mizzou has experienced both of these types of seasons before, and in not-too-distant history. The Tigers struggled midseason in 2002 and ended up drawing a 12-seed in the NCAA Tournament, barely making the field at all. (I'm still shocked Mizzou was below a 9 or 10 that year, but we'll ignore that.) They then looked spectacular, bombing Miami and Ohio State and easing past UCLA to make the Elite Eight. And if Clarence Gilbert doesn't have the worst shooting night of his life against Oklahoma, Mizzou probably makes the Final Four with 11 losses.
Then there's the other side of the equation. Mizzou had the best offense in the country in 2012. According to Pomeroy, it would have been the best offense in 2011 or 2013, too. The Tigers entered the tournament 30-4, having gone 11-3 against teams ranked in Pomeroy's top 40. It was an amazingly fun team to watch, and the Tigers came within a last-second screwjob in Lawrence of winning both the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles. And then they watched as Norfolk State banked in 3-pointers and turned airballs into 3-point plays in Omaha in the Round of 64.
What sticks out more in your memory: the journey or the final chapter? What season do you look back more fondly on: 2002 (which featured road losses to teams ranked 109th, 123rd, and 184th in Pomeroy and wins over only three top-40 teams before the tournament) or 2012? Assuming no Final Four or national title (which trumps everything, obviously), would you prefer a great regular season and an early tourney loss or a just-decent regular season and a March run?
(I guess this could apply to Wrestling, too, huh?)
Food for thought as the tourney finalizes its Sweet 16 participants today.
EAST: No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 7 Michigan State (CBS, 11:10 a.m. CT)
SOUTH: No. 1 Duke vs. No. 8 San Diego State (CBS, 1:40 p.m. CT)
MIDWEST: No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 7 Wichita State (CBS, 4:15 p.m. CT)
EAST: No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Dayton (TNT, 5:10 p.m. CT)
SOUTH: No. 2 Gonzaga vs. No. 7 Iowa (TBS, 6:10 p.m. CT)
WEST: No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Oregon (truTV, 6:45 p.m. CT)
MIDWEST: No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 5 West Virginia (TNT, 7:40 p.m. CT)
EAST: No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Northern Iowa (TBS, 8:40 p.m. CT)
Oh, by the way...
...Mizzou baseball beat South Carolina again yesterday and goes for the series sweep (and a 6-0 start in SEC play) at 1:05 p.m. CT today. The weather should be amazing today if you can make it out to Taylor Stadium ... and the game's on SEC Network if you can't. And Softball goes for the series win in Knoxville at 12:30 p.m. CT after ripping off six runs in the sixth to pull a 9-8 comeback win yesterday. Things are happening on the diamond(s)!