Monday, February 19, 2007

When The Shoe No Longer Fits

"I got a story to tell."

Triple your pleasure! Hey why not? I haven't been able to update this as much as I would have wanted to, but in the tail end of my senior year, taking a bunch of ridiculously hard classes, I've been extremely busy just keeping up with it (I thought this was suppose to be the easiest?). Anyway, I had one final point to make that I didn't put into my original post today.

I was looking at the newest "Bracketology" that ESPN posts every week (link is below), and it got me to thinking about something. This is a fairly obvious one, at least to me, but no one has really phrased this, or for that matter, really talked about it. May I present "The Reverse Cinderella Theory." Here's how it works. You have one team who is outside of a big conference (big conferences would be the Big East, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, and Pac-10...I know that's obvious to some of you, but just trying to bring everyone in the loop). Anyway, this team has made numerous deep runs in the tournament in years past from a double-digit seed, and now, all of a sudden, they've gotten recruits and have a top-tier team. With a top-25 ranking, the team is able to get a top 5 seed in the tournament, and then, disaster inevitably will strike. More than likely, they get bounced real early. So here's my point. A "cinderella" team that becomes "good" in the regular season will always fall apart. And in order for them to be able to make another deep run, they will have to go back to the depths of mediocrity to try and recapture some of that magic. A perfect example of this is Gonzaga (probably saw that one coming). The Bulldogs, back in 1999, were a #10 seed and managed to get a trip into the Elite 8 after beating #7 Minnesota, #2 Stanford, and #6 Florida, then losing to the eventual champion UConn Huskies. In the next two years, Gonzaga was ranked #10 and #12 respectfully, and in both years, they made it to the Sweet 16. So, they had a really good run, and then all of a sudden, they got a bunch of talent on their team, and were ranked in the top 25 for most of the 2002 season, earning a #6 seed. However, they were bounced in the first round by Wyoming, and so it began. After getting a #9 seed in the tourney the next year, Gonzaga entered into the Adam Morrison era, and earned a top 3 seed over the next three years. The Bulldogs were able to get through the second round only once, that coming last year when they lost to UCLA in the Sweet 16. This is a horrible track record for a team getting such a high ranking three years in a row. As a top 3, you are suppose to be able to make it to the Sweet 16 with no problems. Gonzaga simply got bitten by "post-cinderella syndrome." See, once a team is a "cinderella," and they make a deep run, their "innocence" is gone, and now, people are fully aware of how dangerous a team could potentially be. Once the magic is gone, it cannot be replaced by anyone or anything. The only way to get back into making a run would be to have a bad season, where the realization sets in that they can't continue to play the type of schedule they play in the regular season, and start playing more of a "cream puff" schedule. That's another reason that a team like Gonzaga will not be able to make a serious run in the tournament: They're just simply worn out from playing such a tough out-of-conference schedule that they don't have enough juice left to make anything happen. Once they start losing more, however, and, say, they don't even make the tournament one year (Gonzaga right now is on the outside looking in), then, they will be able to rekindle some magic in the next year and slip into the tournament as a low seed, thus being once again able to fly under the radar. I know this sounds kind of bizarre, but the best thing for Gonzaga right now would be to not even make the tournament this year. It seems crazy, but if they are able to slip back into an "unknown" role, then no one will recognize them as a "threat."

The reason all this came about was that I noticed there are three teams this year that are about to prove my theory to be right. They are Butler, Nevada, and Southern Illinois. Granted, the game that pitted Southern Illinois and Butler that happened over the weekend was one of the better games you will see this year. All those guys were playing with wreckless abandon, which has become the "norm" of games in the mid-majors. However, one has to wonder if these teams are flying too high too early, kind of like Icarus (and now you know the reason I wrote this entire thing...Greek mythology references...golden). Will they have enough gas to make a serious run in the tournament? I got a real good feeling that they won't. Not that I wouldn't want to see it (all those teams just play so hard), but all these teams have been nationally exposed this year. There won't be the kinds of surprises that they have pulled in years past. I just feel that some teams, like Gonzaga and the three aforementioned schools, play better when they are not given a chance. It's kind of like extra motivation. But now that they have such a good seed, that motivation is no longer there, and now, they are expected to be beating these teams. One of the biggest reasons is that these teams lack the kind of depth that the schools in the major conferences have. So, once you know who to look for, the rest will just fall into place. So, all I have to say is, good luck trying to break the trend, but I just don't see it happening.

Well, I gave you a little bit of reading material. Hope it keeps you busy for awhile. As always, thanks for reading, and take care. Peace.


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