Point/Counterpoint: Was Monday night's national championship good or bad for the NCAA?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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They got it wrong. That the committee of big-cigar smoking masochists who are in charge of seeding the teams that partake in the single best sporting event in the universe had the gall to award an 8-seed to Kentucky and a 7-seed to UConn, giving the higher seeds to apparently greater teams in each respective region, is just another blip on the radar of bad-brained decisions of the holier-than-thou folk who are tasked with organizing how we consume our sports.

That UConn was able to play a severely overrated Villanova squad, an Iowa State team without its second-best player, caught Michigan State on a cold shooting day, but then took no prisoners against a cold-blooded Florida team is a testament to being a real dandy when it matters. That, and UConn has Shabazz Napier.

On the other hand, Kentucky was the preseason No. 1 team going into this season. This is a Kentucky team that still placed second in its conference. Of its 10 losses, 6 came against teams in the top 20. Three of those losses were against Florida, the team that was ranked No. 1 in the land for the better part of the season.

The Wildcats drew arguably the weakest 1-seed of all time in a matchup against Wichita State, then went on to triumph over Louisville (a team that it had beaten handily earlier in the year) and then defeated a largely overachieving Michigan team. Wisconsin, God bless it, just had no fundamentally sound answers for the athletically superior freshmen stacked on the Kentucky squad.

A championship game that features a combined seeding of 15 between the two teams is hardly a national championship at all —  entertainment value of the particular matchup featured in the game be damned. What it is is a disservice to those who religiously pore over their brackets at work and fumble at the logic of putting Wichita State in the same region as Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, Michigan, and St. Louis. It’s a cry for change, and no one is listening.

— Ben Ross

Kentucky and Connecticut have combined to win six of the past 18 national championships, but we’re forced to explain why Monday’s tilt is deserving of basketball fans’ full attention?

As we learn every year, once we get passed a certain point, you can pretty much forget about what seed number each team has. And as far as this year goes, we can now laugh at the committee and its decision to give Kentucky an 8-seed.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, four of the Wildcats’ five postseason wins have come against teams (Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan, Wisconsin) ranked in the top 11. That has more to do with the fact that the committee did everything it could to keep Wichita State out of the Final Four, but that’s a story for a different day.

Right now, it could be argued that UConn outplayed its true skill and was a just a huge beneficiary of the tournament’s single-elimination format. But if there’s a more entertaining player than Huskie guard Shabazz Napier, I’d like to hear about it. 

The Roxbury, Mass., native was averaging 21 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists heading into Monday’s championship game — and he’ll be a no-brainer for Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament if the Huskies wind up winning.

If you’re stuck on the seed numbers, you’re focusing on the wrong things. Kentucky and UConn both have immensely talented rosters that clearly didn’t deserve the seeds they received, head coaches John Calipari and Kevin Ollie are two of the most respected leaders in the game, and these are two of the most successful programs the sport has.

I’m banking on this being a really fun and close game. Unless you’re someone who dislikes great basketball matchups, there really isn’t any reason to think otherwise.

— Ryan Probasco

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