With the Butler Bulldogs making their second consecutive appearance in the national championship game, it’s time to acknowledge that there are some cracks in the NCAA’s foundation.
Believe me, I don’t want to downplay Butler’s success as a team — the accomplishments speak for themselves — but it’s clear the NCAA has a problem on its hands if Butler can beat out all the super programs two years in a row.
Last year, Butler lost to the Duke Blue Devils, a team that consistently finds a way to keep its guys in school. But other top-tier college basketball programs suffer the same fate every year, boasting the top blue-chip players only to rent their services for a very limited amount of time as they make the jump to the NBA as quickly as possible.
This has given teams like Duke the ability to always be dominant because they are a legitimate blue-blood powerhouse program and the players understand what’s expected of them when they attend that college.
It’s also how Butler, a 5th seed from last year and an 8th seed this year, has the ability to make two back-to-back appearances in the championship game.
When hundred-million dollar contracts await these young kids in the pros, neither an NCAA championship nor an education is enough incentive to stay in school.
It’s evident that the NCAA is taking advantage of the talents of these super athletes until they make the jump, cashing in on the celebrity of guys we know will have NBA careers. Problem is, the product as a whole is showing more and more flaws each year.
It’s not the most talented teams that are dangerous, it’s the teams with juniors and seniors who have formed continuity and familiarity with one another. The days of mega star players growing together, like the UNLV team that boasted senior leadership from Greg Anthony, Stacey Augmon and Larry Johnson, or the Syracuse team with Billy Owens, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas and Rony Seikaly would seem to be a distant memory.
It’s for this reason that I believe Butler will win tonight, proving the theory that good coaching and older and more mature teams are taking over.