How was your 4-day weekend? Was it as good for you as it was for me? Of course it was. Here is the singular thought about this tournament we've been watching over the last 4 days. These mid-majors are not mid-majors at all, nothing about them is middle at all. Then I turned on Pandora when i woke up this morning and this song was the first one that came on...you might recognize the lyrics.
"Turn nothin to something now pimpin' that's a savior
Best things are green now pimp and get your paper
High off the ground instead of skyscraper
Cool off thinkin' we local, come on homie, we major"
That's exactly what Northern Iowa, Cornell, Xavier, Butler, and St. Mary's must've had on their mind coming into this tournament. "Cool off thinkin' we local...come on homie we major." Let me show you why they feel this way, and why this all should've made more sense to us in the beginning. (Especially when we were doing our brackets.)
#1. These Mid-Majors Don't Lack Size (Pause) - Northern Iowa's Jordan Eglseder...7'1", 280 pounds. Cornell's Jeff Foote...7'0", 265 pounds. Xavier's Jason Love & Kenny Frease...6'9", 265 pounds & 7'0" 265 pounds. Butler's Gordon Heyward...6'9", 210 pounds. St. Mary's Omar Samhan...6'11", 260 pounds. I mean...these dudes are not lacking power players with height & length (pause) and they are all physical players and do major work. Northern Iowa's game totally changed once Egleseder made those 2 three-pointers on KU's Cole Aldrich. Omar Samhan is 1 of just 2 players in NCAAs who averages 20 & 10 this season, and in the two games he's played in the tourney he's AVERAGING 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. Honestly, the some of these power conference teams we've become accustomed to seeing just aren't as big as these boys, thus making an early exit for some of the crowned studs in the tourney.
#2. Fear Is Not An Option - Ali Farokhmanesh just became a legend on Saturday night and showed he had the biggest balls in college basketball. Jordan Crawford proved to America that he is more than a mythical Youtube clip dunking on "The King" as he made Pitt his pawns in a chessgame, Louis Dale gave us one of the greatest lines in history with, "We’ve got eight seniors on this team, and we want to take this ride as long as we can because after this it’s just nothing but babies and memories, so we’ll just keep going." (classic)
Finally, Omar Samhan might be the gullyest dude in the tourney, plus he's wearing the same hoop shoes he's worn for the last two years. He wears them for everything, conditioning, practice, games, everything...to the point they have holes in them. "You can stick your fingers through the holes, see?" Samhan said as he showed the media that he really does have holes in his shoes. "I'm old-school. Did you see what [Bill] Russell played in and he won 11 NBA championships. His shoes were all right." For what its worth, its driving him to legend status, shushing the opposing and talking reckless (plus he has a blog too)...gotta love it.
#3. Being A Senior-Citizen Should Not Be A Bad Thing - Since the advent of one-and-dones, we've come to think that having a senior-laden team is a bad thing...true, that might mean you don't have elite players, but that also means you don't get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Watching players develop, growing chemistry, and go through tough experiences wears on a team for the better. Cornell has EIGHT seniors, and from what I hear they all live in the same house. Yep, I bet they have a bit of chemistry. Throw in UNI's 5 seniors as well and you have two teams who know each other.
However, mid-majors aren't necessarily teams with seniors. Xavier only has one senior, St. Mary's only has one senior as well. In fact, Xavier's best player is a transfer (Jordan Crawford), Butler's best player (Gordon Heyward) is a sophomore and St. Mary's #2 guy (Matthew Dellavadova) is a freshman.
The simple truth is that these teams are just damned good. The talent pool in college basketball is deeper than ever before and players who aren't willing to sit on the bench for 2-3 years are going places where they can play immediately. Take into consideration of the one-and-done player (which is overrated in itself, most players who "THINK" they are one-and-dones simply aren't) and you see the fall of UNC, Arizona, UCLA, UConn, etc.
If you ask me is this the greatest basketball I've witnessed, the answer would be a resounding HELL NO. The games have been sloppy, a lot of mental mistakes, and some coaching blunders. However...teams like the 5 we mentioned here excel because they are coached well, fundamentally sound, and are as poised as any team in the tournament. Could one of these 5 win it all? After seeing them take out Kansas and the entire Big East...its a possibility.
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 4-DAY WEEKEND? BIGGEST SURPRISE? (OTHER THAN THE OBVIOUS) WHO REALLY IMPRESSED YOU THE MOST? WEIGHT IN AND DISCUSS!