Monday, March 13, 2006

March Lukewarmness

A note to disappointed U of L fans: Don't be! Let's be honest, the Cards weren't going back to the Final Four this year even if they had made the tourney. Let me amend that: they wouldn't have gone to the NCAA Final Four. As a top seed, they are actually favored to go to the NIT Final Four. Would you rather lose in the first round of the NCAAs or go to the NIT Final Four?

Perhaps I'm biased because I like non-mainstream stuff, and the NIT is the alternative March tournament. Or perhaps I'm biased because when I was growing up the NIT was the best that my teams could aspire to. Wisconsin had about 40 years between NCAA appearances, and when I first became a fan even the NIT seemed like a dream. Then in 1989 the Badgers finished with a winning record and made the NIT and it was a huge deal. I was in 5th grade, and I remember a friend of mine bragging because his older brother, a Wisconsin student, got to go to the NIT game. In the last ten years, Wisconsin has won a couple Big 10 Championships, made several NCAA Tourneys, and made a Final Four run. Yet I still remember the excitement when they beat New Orleans in the opening round of the 1989 NIT, and the disappointment when they lost to St. Louis in the second round.

One of my other favorite teams, Marquette, has a long history in the NIT. In 1970 the late legendary coach Al Maguire was unhappy with their NCAA seeding, so he said "screw you" to the NCAAs and took his team to play in the NIT, which they won. In 1995 Marquette made a run all the way to the NIT championship game, which honestly was nearly as exciting to me as their run to the NCAA final four in 2003 (remember that regional final UK fans?)

So this year I have three teams in the NCAAs: Wisconsin, Marquette, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. However, I'd be surprised if any of them advance to the Sweet 16. So at least I'll have U of L to cheer for in the NIT.

One more note: this year for the first time (I think) the NIT actually has seeding. I am hoping that in the next few years NIT office pools start to circulate. That would be awesome.

1 Comments:

Blogger jake stegel said...

That is very interesting regarding the NIT of the past, and how Wisconsin was happy to even make it. I guess I am spoiled and stick to the traditional Ncaa tournament. I have never followed the NIT before, but with Cincy and Louisville in the field, i guess it is kind of hard not to.

Sorry your Wisconsin teams didn't advance, but Wisconsin-Milwaukee knocked out BIG 12 power Oklohama, that is good. Bruce Pearl set up a good thing there and Rob Jeter seems to be continuting quite well there. Thats a good story up there in Wisconsin. Its amazing how far the badgers have come as they are compete in the BIG 10 now and seem to be not to far removed from the life of no postseason.

8:57 PM  

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