Collectively, simply two brief phrases kind probably the most quixotic phrase within the sport of faculty basketball: battle-tested.
This description is utilized to groups once they emerge from uncommonly aggressive conferences and enter the NCAA Event, as a result of nobody appears ever to have examined the numerous quantity of proof that means “battle-tested” most frequently interprets to “beaten-down.”
When Connecticut emerged as NCAA champion from the record-setting Massive East Convention in 2011, which despatched extra of its members into March Insanity than any league earlier than or since, that the Huskies had been “battle-tested” often was cited as a motive for his or her success.
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Then why did so most of the different Massive East groups fail that yr?
The identical was true of North Carolina in 2017, when the Tar Heels received the championship and the ACC established its private greatest with 9 entrants. They did nice. All the opposite groups within the league flamed out, together with No. 2 seed Duke in that notorious recreation throughout the border in South Carolina in opposition to the Gamecocks.
And it is true immediately of the Massive Ten Convention and its report 9 NCAA members. The Massive Ten could but produce the nationwide champion. Illinois believes it has a shot, and so does fellow No. 1 seed Michigan. However the league misplaced two top-four seeds in a matter of hours on the primary day of the match, No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 4 seed Purdue, each within the South Area.
The Buckeyes misplaced in time beyond regulation to Oral Roberts. Correctly warned, the Boilermakers couldn’t keep away from the identical state of affairs, having to rally to drive OT in opposition to North Texas however performing poorly as soon as there.
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And the reality is, we most likely should not be all that shocked.
Over time, with the assistance of that Huskies championship, what principally is remembered in regards to the 2011 Massive East is that huge chunk of bids the league earned. What appears to be forgotten is the remainder of the league flamed out. Groups not named UConn went 7-10 within the 2011 NCAAs. Of the 5 groups seeded on the highest 4 strains, the Huskies had been the one one which reached the Candy 16. Marquette was the league’s solely different Candy 16 participant. Three groups misplaced to double-digit seeds.
This was common. The ACC obtained 9 bids in consecutive years, 2017 and 2018, and its groups both fared poorly or unexceptionally.
In 2017, except for Carolina’s championship staff, there have been no different Candy 16 entrants. The opposite eight groups went 5-8. The next yr, ACC champion Virginia turned the primary No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed, and No. 6 Miami misplaced to double-digit seed Loyola Chicago. The league did produce 4 Candy 16 groups, however none that made the Remaining 4. The ACC managed solely a 10-9 report that yr.
There was proof of serious put on amongst groups on this Massive Ten because the league superior via a season that when contained the potential for a record-tying 11 NCAA bids. However Indiana performed 81 % of its schedule in opposition to Quad 1 and Quad 2 opponents, and by the tip the harried Hoosiers had been dropping seven of their closing eight video games and falling out of rivalry for a bid.
Minnesota beat Michigan to enhance to 11-4 on Jan. 16, and nonetheless was 13-7 after following up three consecutive losses with a few wins. However the unrelenting schedule and a few main accidents led to defeats in eight of the Gophers’ closing 9 video games and no likelihood at an NCAA bid.
Archie Miller at Indiana and Richard Pitino of Minnesota each misplaced their jobs.
Did they seem battle-tested on the way in which out the door?
Or simply weary?