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Hartselle Enquirer

Where's the drama?

By Staff
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
The NCAA Tournament is still a great event, but it's just not as fun when Goliath always wins. Although I'm young, I can never remember a tournament that has been so devoid of drama as this current Sweet 16.
How can it bore me? Let me count the ways.
First, there are no double-digit seeds of any kind in the Sweet 16. This is patently unheard of and it hasn't happened since 1995. The highest remaining seed is No. 7 UNLV. I mean, come on, No. 8 Villanova won the whole thing in 1985.
Second, of the 12 teams who received top three seeds, 10 of the 12 have advanced to the Sweet 16. That hasn't happened since 1996.
Third, there was no 5-12 upset. Brackets everywhere were already one miss down simply because of the conventional wisdom that there would be a 5-12 upset. (Mine was Long Beach State, which only allowed eighty billion points to Tennessee. Oops.)
Fourth, if you had simply picked the favorites in the bracket at the start of the NCAA tournament, you would have gotten a whopping 79.1 percent of the games correct. Where's the fun in that?
Now, let me reiterate. I am not complaining about the quality of basketball. I have no complaints there. We've already been treated to several overtime games and exhibitions of remarkable individual skill. It is very entertaining to see a high flying team like Tennessee break the scoreboard or to watch the defensive clinic that Southern Illinois puts on every time the Salukis step on the court.
But just when it seems that the drama is about to unfold, it all falls apart. There is perhaps no better example than the Ohio State-Xavier game. A lot of people picked OSU to go the entire way and as Xavier held a nine-point lead with 2 minutes left it looked like there was finally going to be the first major upset of the tournament.
Give Ohio State credit, they continued to battle even in a hostile environment (come on, who outside of the Buckeyes' own fans are going to cheer for the No. 1 seed over a No. 9 seed). They were helped by some odd Xavier miscues, most notably the Musketeers' throwing away an inbounds pass and Xavier's decision to let Ron Lewis take a game-tying three-point shot rather than try to foul the Buckeyes.
What should have been the first major upset of the tournament instead became a game with the most anticlimactic overtime I've ever seen. You could tell Xavier was cooked, even with Ohio State big man Greg Oden fouling out late in regulation (shouldn't that have been an intentional foul?).
This tournament has been full of moments like that, times when it looks like someone is finally going to break through the monotony, only to fall short. This tournament needed for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to hold on to that early lead against No. 2 Wisconsin in the opening round. It needed for Miami-Ohio to make just a few more shots against No. 3 Oregon. It needed for VCU to beat Pittsburgh in overtime in the second round (mainly because I had that very upset on my own bracket). It needed for No. 11 Winthrop to knock off Notre…never mind.
To be fair, there is still a lot of tournament left to be played and there are some intriguing upset possibilities coming up on the docket. That Southern Illinois team will get to test its tough defensive abilities against a blazing-hot Kansas team. No. 5 seed Butler, which in the past has been a Cinderella, gets a chance to knock off defending champion and No. 1 overall seed Florida.
Hopefully something happens over the next few rounds to fill the deficient drama quota of this tournament. As it is, we're on pace to have the first year ever where all four No. 1 seeds make the Final Four.
March Madness? More like March Blandness.

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