As Houston readies to host the college basketball world, we find the college basketball world an unappealing guest.
One Cinderella too many. Either Butler or VCU maybe, but both and we’re now hosting a literal nerd convention.
When people will try to “sell” the argument that Butler is a “big-time” program, it’s obvious we’ve got one square peg to many for this round hole. The Bulldogs are from an insignificant conference, and not at all like the last non-BCS conference school to make back-to-back Final Four appearances – UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels of ’90 & ’91 were loaded with future NBA stars – the best Jerry Tarkanian could buy. That’s not Butler, and making consecutive Final Fours doesn’t make them a major hoops program, matching funds and history with the Kansas’, UCLA’s, Kentucky’s, Duke’s and North Carolina’s does, and the Bulldogs can’t do that.
The preview to the VCU – Butler game is more about the youth of the coaches (combined Rams coach Shaka Smart and Bulldog coach Brad Stevens are younger than UConn head coach Jim Calhoun), and where these hot young coaches will end up. If the Lakers meet the Heat or Celtics in the NBA finals, you think they’ll spend much time hyping where the coaches will end up next year?
UConn vs. Kentucky equals the match-up of what’s wrong with intercollegiate athletics. Huskies coach Jim Calhoun and Wildcats coach John Calipari hate each other. Hate is great in sports when you can make the debate about good versus evil – which in the minds of the coaches is probably how the hatred started. But now, it’s just one program waiting – like Ohio State football, to start serving it’s punishment for breaking NCAA rules – see UConn, going against another school with a “checkered” at best past coached by a man who’s previous trips to the Final Four have been stripped by the NCAA – see Kentucky. Wonderful. Evil versus evilier?
Make no mistake, this is still a great sports event, and our city will be outstanding hosts. It’s just that we’ve prepared as if we’re hosting a memorable event necessary of our finest china, when in reality, paper plates and cups would’ve been sufficient for this party.