Friday, March 20, 2009

And Now You Know!: Championship Rivalry

With so many teams from the Big East or ACC or Big 10 making the tournament in recent years it is a wonder why we haven't seen an all inclusive conference championship. This year a lot of folks are predicting an all-Big East final in one way or another.

Looking back over the past 25 years of the NCAA tournament though it is amazing to see that just twice has the Final game been an intra-conference game, and the most recent occurrence happening in 1988.

That famed game featured 6-10 stud, Danny Manning and the Kansas Jayhawks taking on Big Eight rival, Oklahoma. Oklahoma was a No. 1 seed entering the game while the Jayhawks were a lowly No. 6. Danny Manning netted 31 points in the 83-79 victory

The only other time that it happened was in 1985 when Patrick Ewing and the No. 1 Hoyas took on conference foe and No. 8 seed, Villanova. Again the lower seed prevailed in this match up as the Wildcats won 66-64.

Going all the way back to that 1985 NCAA bracket it is also interesting to note that there has only been 5 instances in which a Final Four match up consisted of intra-conference teams. Most recently in 2001 it was Duke and Maryland with Duke prevailing to go on and eventually win the NCAA Championship.

So while many people shun the Big East because it is too big or that people banter about the conference possibly getting 10 teams into the tournament each year, notice that it doesn't really matter. You would think that through 1512 games played in the brackets since 1985 and 48 Final Four games that there would be a greater contingency of intra-conference games come April?

With Louisville, Connecticut, and Pittsburgh all receiving top seeds and other major conferences filling out the top 4 seeds in each region don't be so quick to expect conference battles in late rounds.

Oh, and for those interested in President Obama's influence on the NCAA Tournament. We saw that Democrats in office favor the NFC over the AFC well from my research there is no correlation between conferences winning based on who holds the chair in office. Since 1985, when a Democrat is in office (Clinton) five different conferences have won the title.

And Now You Know! (And Knowing is Half the Battle!)

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