With the coronation of Louisville, college basketball for 2012-13 comes to an end. For the 2nd consecutive year, the number one overall seed walked away with the hardware. The other Final Four teams included two teams that spent chunls of the season in the Top 5/10 and Wichita State, arguably the best mid-major to make the Final Four ever.
What do we take from this season?
Narratives written by the national media are often wrong, for starters. We had the notion of parity shoved down our throats all season when the reality was, this season was pretty much a carbon copy of most seasons. Sure, the top spot was juggled amongst many teams but by the opening tip of the tournament, we didn't need a computer to know who the best team was. As the tournament moved along, the top teams kept moving along for the most part. Parity? No, more like more of the same.
Another disturbing trend was the continued decline in scoring. We're finally starting to see more top level coaches speak out against this and acknowledging it is a problem. On twitter on Monday, everyone celebrated the offensive battle between the two teams. It was 38-37. In 2009, UNC scored 55 against Michigan State who managed 34 themselves. Truth was, I think we've become immune to offense as fans. We've had the concept of "defense wins championships" crammed down our throats by coaches and the media that low scoring contests while derided by the press and fans, have become accepted as "it is what it is". If you follow any of the Wisconsin media on twitter, you'd understand why it's so accepted. Louisville is mocked as some "gimmick" defense that relies on turnovers to legitimize it's status as a top defensive team, one not capable of matching up to the man-to-man half court defenses of the Big Ten. This is done while completely ignoring why Louisville plays the way they do, to generate easy offense and wear down opponents. Notice Michigan's shots late in the game? They couldn't match Louisville's conditioning. That's not a knock on the Wolverines, that's how Pitino coaches and practices.
Not everybody can do what Louisville does but there are ways to generate offense in the game. Officials can be directed to call the game closer, especially in the Big Ten and what was the old Big East. Eliminate the clutching, holding and undercutting. The concern is no one wants to see 3 hour games that would ensue but like coaches that coach to the contact that's allowed now, the good ones will adjust. The physical play would subside. And enforce the charge/block correctly. Far too often, the offense is unfairly penalized.
Finally, we say good-bye to the Big East and welcome back to the ACC. With the addition of Syracuse and Pitt for next season and Louisville the following, the ACC should take the path the old Big East took and get back to the top. The ACC should open next season with 3 teams in the Top 10 in Syracuse, Duke & UNC. And we'll welcome back Kentucky who will almost assuredly open 2013-14 back at number one.
Congrats to Louisville on winning it all and sending the Big East out with a bang wrapping up one of the better seasons in recent memory.