Randy Smith: March Madness Features More Than 1 Cinderella

  • Monday, March 27, 2023
  • Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

You can take your pick if you're looking for a Cinderella team to pull for in the NCAA Final Four this weekend. There are four Cinderella stories matching up this weekend as college basketball crowns its national champion. There are a pair of number five seeds, a number four seed and a number nine seed playing in Houston Texas on Saturday afternoon and as expected the four seed UConn is the favorite. This year marks the first time in Tournament history that there is no three seed or higher in the mix.

There are no " Blue Bloods " playing for a national title. No Kentucky, no North Carolina, No Duke, no Kansas nor is there a UCLA this year. Only Miami, San Diego State, Florida Atlantic and UConn are still alive. Florida Atlantic is the lowest seed still playing. The ninth seeded Owls will face San Diego State in one semi-final while UConn takes on Miami in the other. So....what does this mean for college basketball? It means there is more parity now than ever before. In the last two years a top seeded team has been upset by a sixteen seed. It had never happened before in the long history of the NCAA men's Tournament but it has now happened two years in a row.

We've heard a lot about parity in college sports but compared to basketball, there is no parity in college football. Georgia has dominated the field the last two years, going 29-1 and winning back to back national titles. To put things in perspective, the college football final four could feature Cincinnati, Boise State, Central Florida and Louisville and those match ups would compare to the basketball Final Four this season. Could that ever happen in college football? It's possible but not very likely. In football, there are 22 players on the field at one time. In basketball there are 10. One or two players can take over a basketball game but that's very seldom ever going to happen in football.

I am picking UConn to win it all but I also picked Purdue to win it when the tournament started a couple of weeks ago and you see how that turned out. I am going to pull for Miami to win the big trophy because I like the Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga. He's been the coach at Miami since 2011 and took his team to the Elite Eight a year ago. Now he has them in the Final Four and at 73 years old, he's the oldest coach to ever take a team this far in college hoops. In Sunday's game, the Hurricanes trailed Kansas State by 13 points with about eight minutes left, yet they rallied to win. Larranaga had a game plan he stuck with and it paid off.

I have watched more NCAA Tournament games this year than I ever have before. It just seems the level of play is better than ever in 2023 and the sport has also added more fans than ever before. More people are talking about the games over the last couple of weeks than any year I can remember. I think everyone can agree this year has been the greatest "Big Dance" we've ever witnessed.

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

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