Monday, April 5, 2010

Will a Non-Major School EVER Be Champ Again?

John Marine | 4/05/2010 11:43:00 PM | | |
Duke beat Butler (I was skeptical Butler could even beat Duke to begin with). However, at least Butler has shown that even small schools can compete against national powers on a major stage. I still think Butler could have given themselves a chance to win if they hit their free throws and make better lay-ups. People who don't like small schools "taking the spotlight" over larger schools would think I'm being an idiot by not mentioning Butler's successful run. All I'm saying in this blog entry is that ANYTHING can happen. Most of this will be rambling followed by some more professional stuff. Will there EVER be a non-major school winning the National Championship, or are the non-major schools just somehow not good enough to beat a major program these days on a grand stage?

Part of the problem I usually have had is that I feel so much about smaller schools not being able to get as much media attention as most of the major programs. One such excuse would be that most smallers schools don't get as much TV time to begin with. Absolute haters would say that smaller schools don't need face time. However, when you've got a winning team and a team that's really good, you get noticed. When you beat a larger school or upset a highly-ranked non-major school, you get noticed. When you can advance to the tournament (regardless of your record or your seeding), you get noticed. When you climb your way through the tournament, you get noticed.

If anything, Butler has shown that ANY school can beat ANY team as long as you're well equipped and prepared to win. This is why more people want to see more mid-majors (and even low-majors) in the tournament. Winning your conference championship is just good enough to make it in as well. Duke was a great program in the tournament, but so was Butler. Butler knocked off Michigan State and Kansas State among others, so it's not like Butler was a nobody that snuck into the back door to play for a National Championship. Butler had the hustle, the grind, the determination, the dream, the vision... all that's needed to become a National Championship. Some people say I'm being too nice when I say that 65 teams have a chance to win a National Championship, but it's true. George Mason surely had a championship opportunity when they made it all the way to the Final Four a few years ago. Did it mean that George Mason was a lock to win a National Championship? Are the other 64 teams a lock to win the title? No and no. Butler shows that it's all about the TEAM, not the school. A school with an enrollment of (anything considered minimum for an NCAA Division 1 school) has as best of a chance to win a National Championship as any team from the major conferences. A team that can play to win and plays to stand among giants is a school capable and worthy enough to become champions. Don't give me that crap that smaller schools don't even deserve to play for a National Championship, let alone go far into the tournament. It's not that I don't want only major schools to win National Championships, I am just saying that it's really refreshing when a non-major team wins the National Championship.

Anyone Can Win!
Every team has a chance to become champion in college basketball, as opposed to the BCS system in college football. That's why many fans want a playoff for college football's highest class of NCAA football as opposed to the BCS system instilled since the BCS' inception. Butler didn't win the National Championship over Duke, but Butler surely carried the hopes and dreams of schools not from the ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Big XII, Pac-10, or the SEC. For college football fans, Butler in basketball represents what schools like Boise State and TCU would want to be in for football- playing in the National Championship game against an obviously higher-favored opponent. Butler has a football program, and I'm sure if given the opportunity, they want to be favorites in FCS as much as any other FCS powerhouse.

Pushing Aside the Little Man.
The point of my rambling is that while I'm not against major teams winning the NCAA men's basketball championship, I would love to see the day when a team from a non-major school (meaning a school not from the six major NCAA conferences) wins the National Championship. You almost have to feel like you need to be at a major program to be noticed. It's like my YouTube channel and my blog sometimes... no matter what I do, I don't think I ever become anywhere among the major powers. Then too, that's motivation to go to smaller schools. At least the mid-majors and low-majors know that greatness comes from all over the nation. Not every school is North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, or Syracuse. Then again, they don't have to. You just have to be great representing your school. There are over 320 or 330 NCAA basketball schools in NCAA Division 1, and only a percentage of these schools have the opportunity, privledge, and prospects to become a National Champion.

NCAA D1 Champions from Non-Major Conferences.
The following are current active Division 1 members that have won the National Championship on the Division 1 level. The City College of New York (1950) is not included since they now play hoops down in Division 3. Here are all the men's NCAA National Champions from non-major Division 1 conferences (thanks: Wikipedia):

* College of the Holy Cross (Patriot League, 1947)
* La Salle University (Atlantic 10, 1954)
* Loyola University of Chicago (from Horizon League, 1963)
* University of San Francisco (from West Coast Conference, 1955 and 1956)
* University of Nevada-Las Vegas (from Mountain West, 1990)
* University of Texas-El Paso (from Conference USA, 1966 (known as Texas Western College back then))
* University of Utah (1944)
* University of Wyoming (1943)

So UNLV is the last school from a non-major conference to win the National Championship in NCAA Division 1 Men's basketball. The last non-football school to win the National Championship in NCAA D1 basketball was Marquette in 1977, but the last non-football school from a non-major conference to win the NCAA D1 Men's Championship was Loyola University of Chicago in 1963.

To whomever from a non-major conference plays for a National Championship in NCAA Division 1 Men's basketball... play to represent the schools who don't get as much media attention and hype. Butler University, congratulations on one incredible season. I take nothing away from Duke, but you all were awesome, Butler. Good luck to you all next season!

The long wait into next season and the 2011 Men's Final Four here in my hometown of Houston have officially begun...
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