In this year's Final Four, heart and determination outweigh pure talent
After much consideration, I have concluded that the 2010 NCAA champion will be ... nobody.
Duke can't win because this is basically the same Duke team we've seen for the last few years (long on shooters and hunger, short on size and athleticism) and we know that team can't win. Butler can't win because this is not a movie. Michigan State can't win because the Spartans are missing their most important player, point guard
This may be the least talented Final Four in many years. It might not produce a single NBA lottery pick this summer; the last time a Final Four failed to send a player into the next lottery was 1986, and the lottery was smaller then. In fact, it is plausible that this Final Four won't send a player into
Yet, precisely because of the lack of talent, this is the most lovable Final Four in years. If this NCAA tournament has taught us anything, it's that heart, desire, teamwork and coaching all matter. It's not just a talent parade.
We need this once in a while, don't we? Being a sports fan requires a certain suspension of disbelief. We must pretend that teams can win the World Series with a low payroll and those NFL linemen can't possibly be on steroids and these athletes aren't just hired guns and of the thousands of significant sporting events every year, not one of them is fixed.
And we want to believe heart matters. Guts matter. It's not just a question of which slimy coach magically landed the most gifted recruits.
On a related note: Kentucky lost.
I mean this: If the Wildcats had won the title, I think it would have been a watershed moment for the sport, like when we discovered baseball players had used performance-enhancing drugs. People would still watch the sport, but they wouldn't see it in quite the same way. The idea of universally loathed Kentucky coach
(By the way,
Kansas, the favorite, would have been more palatable than Kentucky, but even those Jayhawks would have won mostly on talent. This Final Four is a throwback to the 1980s, when North Carolina State and Villanova stunned the sports world by winning national titles.
We're heading for one of the most stunning champions of the last 20 years.
Duke was an almost universally pooh-poohed No. 1 seed. Before the tournament started, the general feeling seemed to be that Duke got a 1 seed on senior leadership, a weak ACC and corrupt officiating. (That's always the perception with Duke.)
Most people thought Michigan State, the preseason No. 2 team in the country, was not good as it should have been, and when I say "most people" I mean "
And nobody picked Butler to win it all because, well, nobody picks Butler to win it all. Now the Bulldogs get to play a Final Four at home, in the shadow of their own arena, where the original