What Should Have Happened in the 2017 NCAA Tournament

This is not the real Final Four. It can’t be. South Carolina? Seriously? Oregon? Even Gonzaga? These guys shouldn’t have made it. No way. This wasn’t how the tournament was supposed to play out. There was only one ACC team in the Sweet 16, too. Now that’s definitely wrong. It was the best conference in America! I’m pretty sure that this isn’t how the tournament should have happened. A 7-seed in the Final Four? No way. That isn’t even fun! This tournament needs to be replayed or something, I won’t stand for this madness. Here’s how it was supposed to go down:

 

East

First of all, no, Villanova definitely didn’t lose to Wisconsin. Who needs interior defense when you have one of the best players in the country in Josh Hart? If Villanova needed a game-winning bucket, they could’ve just given it to him. Or if not him, Kris Jenkins. Never mind that Jenkins only shot 36% from behind the arc this season! He made the most clutch play in Villanova history! Of course he could do it again. No, you are mistaken. The Wildcats moved on to play Virginia in the Sweet 16, because the ACC is better than the SEC. And then there’s SMU. Yeah, the SMU that was talked about as being a legit Final Four contender all season long, led by future NBA player Semi Ojeleye. Nah, there’s no way they lost to USC. They had a double-digit lead! A team as good as the Mustangs doesn’t blow that type of lead. They move on. They beat Baylor too, because they were vastly under-seeded. And then of course, there’s Duke, who has 13 McDonald’s All Americans. Duke, if you have not heard, is back, especially after winning the ACC Tournament that wasn’t in Greensboro. Poor South Carolina. They forgot to watch their backs as they got backed into a corner and were sent back home after they ran into Duke, who is back, and its 21 McDonald’s All Americans.

 

This all naturally sets up for a Villanova-Duke matchup in Madison Square Garden in the Elite 8, because that’s the matchup everyone wants, correct? Unfortunately, defending-national champions Villanova and their interior defense are no match for the 34 McDonald’s All Americans Duke (who is back) has on its roster. And so, like we all knew would happen, Duke goes back to the Final Four.

 

Midwest

Tom Izzo’s March prowess is one thing, but this year’s ACC is another. The conference is miles ahead of the Big Ten. Just ask Miami, who is an ACC team. You know who’s not? Michigan State. So naturally, Miami would move on. They even give Kansas fits because, like Michigan State, the Jayhawks are not an ACC team. Such a great conference. Even so, Kansas moves on to face the winner of Purdue-Iowa State, who could have switched seeds and no one would have noticed. Like Villanova, Iowa State’s lack of a post presence doesn’t matter, and they move on in a tight one. Although the Cyclones beat Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse once this season, Phog Allen West is just too tough and KU sends them back to Ames. The bottom of the Midwest is fairly easy to grasp. Oregon lost Chris Boucher, so they won’t be able to cope with that loss quickly enough, right? Creighton is still unimpressive without Mo Watson, so Rhode Island gets a free trip to the Sweet 16. Congrats Lamar Odom! Sorry to break any hearts, but after Michigan’s momentum from the Big Ten tournament carries them past Oklahoma State, they run into Louisville. I don’t care what happened to your plane, you’re not beating one of the best teams in the best conference of all time. That suffocating Cardinals defense that gave up 90 and 88 points to Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, respectively, in the last two weeks of the regular season is just too much for Derrick Walton and the Wolverines! Of course, Rhode Island’s Cinderella run also comes to an end. The ACC takes no prisoners.

 

Being a part of the greatest basketball conference of all time can only take you so far, however. The Cardinals’ luck runs out as when they realize they have to play Kansas in the Elite 8, in KU’s second home, Phog Allen West. As Iowa State found out, it’s a much tougher arena than the one back in Lawrence, and Frank Mason’s Player of the Year campaign rolls right into the Final Four. Rumors that Bill Self “can’t win the big one” quickly fall apart, and Self immediately appeals to the NCAA to move the National Semifinal from Phoenix to Kansas City, just to be safe.

 

South

Everyone’s favorite region was pretty wild this year. North Carolina romped all the way to the Elite 8, but not before Cinderella sequel Middle Tennessee won a tournament game for the second straight year. In fact, they won two! Touted as one of the best mid-major teams in the country, they beat over-seeded Minnesota handily, and then toppled Butler. You know, because we needed at least a couple Cinderella stories, right? In the bottom half of the region, the UCLA Lavars were the first team to score 100 points in each of their first three games (because who cares about defense). They were met in the Sweet 16 by Wichita State, the criminally under-seeded team coached by the selection committee’s best friend Greg Marshall. The Shockers got there by first beating whatever team they played first round (no one remembers because Wichita State was such a shoe-in for the next round), and then beating Kentucky, a much less experienced team. The Shockers, whose raged was fueled by the disrespect shown to them by the selection committee, were simply the better coached team, and they move on because sometimes, talent doesn’t win out. Unfortunately, coaching can’t score 100 points, and even the Gregg Marshall Revenge Tour couldn’t slow down the UCLA Lavars.

 

Roy Williams and the Tar Heels got to Memphis resting on their laurels, but once they got there they heard some pretty upsetting news. They weren’t aware that Lonzo Ball was better than LeBron James and would guarantee UCLA a championship. Which is unfortunate, because they put up a heck of a fight, but like many that had come before them, they were no match for the father-son combo of Lonzo and Lavar (who had been granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA).

 

West

Are we sure Gonzaga deserved the 1-seed? They played a bunch of middle school teams, and they even lost to one of them. I’m pretty sure they don’t have any future NBA players on their team either, so really how good can they be? Plus, they have an easy road to the Sweet 16. They only have to play a 16-seed and 8-seed Northwestern. Northwestern is actually only in the tournament by accident, they were trying to be the only power conference school to never have an appearance in the field of 68. They threw the game against Gonzaga and went home early so they could write about how they went home early. It was tough, though. Gonzaga is so overrated that they almost lost to the team trying to lose. They matched up with Notre Dame in the Sweet 16, who is an ACC team, after the Irish had been completely prepared for West Virginia’s press, because they saw it coming and 100% knew that West Virginia was going to press. In the bottom portion, Maryland beat Xavier, because Xavier was 1-7 in their last eight regular season games, and is not good. Easy call. Florida Gulf Coast tried to live up to the 2013 tournament team and attempted to dunk for every basket against Florida State, the second tallest team in the country. The Eagles wound up only scoring a tournament-low 13 points (they actually dunked in a three-pointer, which was cool). Florida State, who plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference, then easily defeated Maryland, who does not play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and is also not very tall. Arizona beat one of the middle school teams in Gonzaga’s conference in the second round to meet up with Florida State in the Sweet 16. Fortunately for Arizona, FSU’s two best players, Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac, declared way too early for the NBA draft and didn’t even actually play in the game, so it was a bit of a cakewalk for the Wildcats.

 

Regardless of the outcome, one coach was making the Final Four for the first time, whether it be Mike Brey or Sean Miller. Arizona had the fortune of having multiple NBA players on their squad, while the Fighting Irish had none. On the other hand, Notre Dame played in the ACC, which couldn’t be overlooked. In a six-overtime game, the NBA players prevailed, most likely because they wanted to play in Phoenix more than the Irish.

 

Final Four

On one half, the numerous NBA Players for Arizona meet Duke, who is back, and the 78 McDonald’s All Americans who play for Mike Krzyzewski. On the other half, Kansas, whose motion to move the Final Four to Kansas City was denied, will face the UCLA Lavars, and the greatest basketball player of all time. I might be talking about Lonzo or Lavar, that’s up to you to decide. The games tip off in Phoenix on Saturday, and who knows, maybe you’ll be there, squinting through your binoculars from your third-row seat in University of Phoenix Stadium. *

 

 

*Disclaimer: None of this actually happened.

 

Photo via Icon Sportswire/Robin Alam

Connor Lagore
Maryland born, Milwaukee raised. Currently a sophomore at the University of Missouri and a 2016 NBA Draft entrant. Old enough to remember Perry Ellis's freshman year. For hot takes and more, follow my twitter @clagore34.

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