Don't get me wrong, having VCU and Butler in the Final Four is a great story. Everyone loves the underdog, right?
There are many college basketball fans asking, "How in the world did two mid-major teams get into the Final Four?"
My answer might surprise you.
I don't think the mid-majors have caught up to the power conference teams. I think teams from the big conferences have gotten worse.
The power conferences will always be dominant but the past couple of years we haven’t had that one dominant team. Think about it – who did you have winning it all this year? But you could have made a case for 10 other teams.
The power teams are losing their best players after 1 or 2 years to the NBA. These big name teams aren't really able to build teams around star seniors and juniors - they have a new look every season. North Carolina won National Championship in ’09 but missed tournament completely in 2010.
These major conference teams have guys leaving early every year. In fact, 56 players on NBA rosters would still have college eligibility if they hadn’t declared for the draft. How good would Texas be if Kevin Durant had stayed? How good would UCLA be if Kevin Love was still there? What about Derrick Rose and Memphis? Imagine if he were still in college? WOW!
It’s also hard to identify with college basketball teams these days. Kentucky essentially has an entirely different team from last year. UNC is very different; Kansas will completely change next year.
There's always been decent talent in the mid-majors. Good players have been going to those schools for years. But could you imagine college basketball if no one left early for the NBA?
The mid-majors have continued to get better while the major conference teams have come down to the pack a bit. These teams have 4 years to build continuity and get better as college basketball players by working on fundamentals, team work and maturity!
Look at Jimmer Fredette – he was arguably the best player in college hoops. But he wouldn’t have been in the top 5 had other guys stayed for 4, 3 or even 2 years! Jimmer got better every year. The way college basketball should be.
College basketball might be much more entertaining than it was 10-15 years ago, but I would argue that the overall quality of play has gotten worse. There’s just less talent there now than there ever was because guys are leaving early and sometimes – way too early!