2013 NCAA Tournament: The Good and Bad of the Round of 64

March 23, 2013

The 2013 NCAA Tournament has been incredibly entertaining already. Lots of close games, surprising results and most importantly, a heaping of great matchups and potential matchups left to look forward to during the rest of the tournament.

Of course, there will always be those that walk away from the first round of games not as happy as others. Whether it be due to coming up short of reaching personal or team goals, not seizing a key opportunity or simply not playing well despite surviving, there are aspects of the tournament that could have been looked a bit more sharp.

So, let’s take a look at a few of the good things from the tournament thus far, as well as a few of the bad. Keep in my, however, that the good easily outweighs the bad overall.

The Good

The Power of Parity

If you’re a fan of upsets, then the tournament has been like a double-dose of Christmas for you thus far. During the Round of 64, a total of seven double-digit seeds advanced to the third round, and that doesn’t even count No. 10 seed Iowa State.

The No. 12 seeds have been especially effective, knocking off three of the four No. 5 seeds, all in in which the lower seed had pretty decent control for the bulk of the game. Of those No. 12 seeds (Oregon, Ole Miss, California), all are from Power 6 conferences, but the nice thing is most of the teams that upset a higher seed had to play a team that was also from a power conference.

In addition to the 12s, the recent trend of very low seeds knocking off some of the tournament favorites continued, with No. 14 seed Harvard and No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast each earning their first ever NCAA Tournament victories. Despite what this might do to people’s brackets, it’s really great to see the joy and emotion on the faces of those players as they begin to realize what they’ve done.

Upsets are what make the tournament so fun, and we’ve had plenty of them to keep us on the edge of our seats.

The Bad

The Mountain West Conference

Coming into the tournament with five teams and boasting the nation’s number one conference RPI ranking, the Mountain West Conference was supposed to make waves in 2013. A couple of its teams were very highly regarded, and several analysts even predicted that the Mountain West could have a representative in Atlanta in a couple of weeks.

Just two days in, we’re left with a largely underwhelming effort that saw the conference stumble to a 2-3 record and an early ousting of the conference’s prized pig, the New Mexico Lobos.

In a conference that is expected to be fired up for the tournament every year and win by being surprisingly athletic and understandably scrappy, the teams representing the MWC this season looked completely the opposite. Both New Mexico and UNLV looked as if they were sleepwalking through their games, and ended up falling victim to lower seeds. While UNLV’s loss is fairly understandable considering the Runnin’ Rebels played a California team that was a stone’s throw from its campus, New Mexico’s loss to Harvard was a shock and really hurt the conference’s image overall.

So much of a shock was the Lobos’ loss that beat writer Dennis Latta quit his job covering the team.

It just goes to show that no matter how gaudy the numbers you put up during the regular season, none of it really matters if you don’t show up for the tournament (hear that, Georgetown?)

The Good

The Atlantic 10 Conference

Saving face for mid-major conferences everywhere is the Atlantic 10 Conference, which still operates under the mid-major umbrella despite consisting of two teams that have made the Final Four in the last three seasons. The A-10 was extremely impressive during the first two rounds, going a perfect 6-0 highlighted by VCU’s pounding of Akron and La Salle’s upset victory over Kansas State.

While the Mountain West was regarded as the mid-major darling and responded poorly, the A-10 quietly went about its business, setting itself up to represent nearly half of the teams in the Sweet 16 if the winning streak can continue.

This isn’t just a cute little conference that wants a little respect, either. Saint Louis, VCU and Butler are all relatively high seeds that have a real chance of doing further damage in the tournament. In fact, the way things are shaping up with several of the top seeds already out or experiencing significant trouble against weaker opponents, the A-10 might actually be favored to win a lot of its third round matchups.

It’s hard to root for several of the A-10’s teams on the basis that you’re rooting for upsets, but if you’re a fan of the capable little guy that keeps on pushing, then this is a conference you can be proud of.

The Bad

The Big East Conference

It is no secret that the Big East Conference as we know it will dissolve after this season, but not too many people expected that it would begin to fade away so early into the NCAA Tournament.

Of the eight teams that received bids, only three remain (Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse). Although this isn’t too surprising when you consider that the conference was a little bit down this season and the majority of teams that lost in the Round of 64 were the underdogs in their matchup, this surely isn’t the way that the conference’s elite wanted to close the book on what has been a staple of college basketball.

If you’re Georgetown and the last thing that you see as a member of the Big East is “lost to Florida Gulf Coast in Round of 64”, you have to be wondering what went wrong. Or perhaps if you can somehow get that erased from the record books.

The Big East was a proud conference through its entirety, and will generally be remembered as being so. But it is sort of disappointing that in the final hurrah, the conference as we know it will probably go out with a whimper rather than a bang.

The Good

Good Coaching Prevails

The NCAA Tournament can be affected by a lot of things, including matchups, teams getting hot and solid free throw shooting down the stretch. But another thing that can have a profound effect on what teams are left standing, especially after the first weekend, is coaching.

Without a dominant team in the tournament, good coaching becomes all the more important. Thus far, we’ve seen the best coaches in the tournament position their team for an extended stay if second round performance is any indication.

Some of strongest performances of the Round of 64 came from teams such as Michigan State, Syracuse, VCU and Ohio State. The coaches of these teams are some of the best, especially in March. With a few of the top seeds already out, one may look to these teams to try and get a sense of who might have the best shot at making it to Atlanta, and possibly cut down the nets while they’re there.

The common saying is that defense wins championships. But in the case of college basketball, good coaching wins championships more often than not.

The Bad

TV Timeouts

No, this will never go away, so don’t even try arguing about it. But that doesn’t mean that the excessive amount of TV timeouts isn’t one of the more frustrating parts of the NCAA Tournament, especially in the early rounds.

Turner Broadcasting did a wonderful thing a couple of years ago by allowing the tournament to be broadcast on four different channels, allowing fans to switch back and forth as they please to watch every game of the tournament.

Of course, the normal fan isn’t going to sit on one channel and watch an entire game unless he or she has an invested interest in the team playing. Naturally, the channel will be changed whenever the game goes to commercial.

But what is the point of having four channels of basketball when, perhaps strategically, every single one of them goes to a commercial break at the same time? It’s really quite fascinating when you really think about it, since the games have staggered starts. But more than likely, it just makes you want to scream.

While this is a minor inconvenience, it is nice to know that the tournament has been entertaining enough that one must stoop to complaining about the TV broadcast to find a bad thing about the tournament after the second round. Hopefully the tournament will continue to be just as exciting in subsequent rounds and we can continue to nitpick.

– K. Becks

One Response to 2013 NCAA Tournament: The Good and Bad of the Round of 64

  1. mancolepig on March 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about the tv timeouts. It was eery how perfectly in-sync the channels were with the commercials

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