Unfortunately, in the time since my most recent post, college basketball lost two giants. Former University of North coach Dean Smith passed away on February and former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian passed away on February 11. I encourage you to read others’ magnificent words on Dean Smith, civil rights hero, and Tark, an all-time great coach and character.
On March 24, 2013, Andy Enfield’s Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles captured the hearts and imaginations of tournament-watching America with thunderous dunks, bizarre celebrations, and a set of relatively easy tournament victories over Georgetown and San Diego State University. They became the first 15-seed to play in the tournament’s second weekend, and their success landed Andy Enfield a lavish contract from USC only weeks later. The list of memorable NCAA Tournament Cinderella stories doesn’t begin or end with Florida Gulf Coast. Last season, Mercer upended Duke. George Mason stormed to the Final Four as an 11-seed in 2006. Butler, VCU, Wichita State, and Gonzaga have all established themselves as formidable programs after years of winning tournament games from lower seeds. You can bank every year on a low-seed mid or low conference team making tournament headlines and busting brackets. As thoughtful analysts, it’s our job to ask, “Are these occurrences completely random?”