Villanova Won an NCAA Title But Elite Programs No Longer Exist in College Hoops
Congratulations are in order for Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats. Thanks to the otherworldly heroics of sixth man Donte DiVincenzo, the Wildcats won their 2nd National Title in the past three years with a dominating 79-62 win over Michigan Monday night.
And yes, DiVincenzo was the story of the game. The 6ft, 5inch Junior stole the show with 31 points on a crazy compilation of layups and in your face jumpers....
Villanova dominated everyone they played in the tournament winning each game by double figures in what was a tourney rife with upsets and lower ranked teams winning a lot of games.
After the game and throughout the following morning the question has been raised by every so-called "Expert" alive. "Is Villanova the Next 'Duke'"?
The answer is neither simple or that straight forward.
College Basketball for all its warts and dirty underbelly, doesn't always crown the best team as its National Champ. There are years where the right team catches fire and runs the table beating teams they normally would not. Which is what makes The Tournament what it is "March Madness".
Unlike football, rankings in basketball don't mean as much. Nobody in their right minds could have predicted Loyola of Chicago making it to the final four. Which is why we love the tournament.
But alas we get back to the question at hand....is Villanova an elite program?
In terms of success, yeah, you can probably say that. But the qualifier is this: You can say the same thing about a ton of Division One teams.
Given the scandals and criminal investigations going on in the sport, it's very hard to quantify success. The "Gold Standard" programs such as Duke or North Carolina, UCLA, Kentucky and Kansas aren't always dominant.
Being the most publicized team does not make one "Elite". And quite honestly, Villanova's run the past 3-years is as close to an "Elite" standard as we currently have.
But the Wildcats don't play in the ACC, Big 12, Pac 12 or SEC. And therefore don't and will not ever get the National Love the other teams will get. Again, it doesn't make any of the other teams in the current environment "Elite", it just makes them the most publicized.
Which IS the same problem we have in College Football. College Football rewards the big name programs with a Top 10 ranking often based on name and reputation rather than actual performance. And TV schedule makers use that criteria to determine which games will be on the air.
And that folks tis the problem. For all the greatness Jay Wright and Villanova have achieved over the past few years, they're still Villanova. They still play in the remnants of the once proud Big East. And while the current incarnation of the Big East includes some very, very good Catholic Basketball schools (Xavier is Christian School), they don't have the Name Recognition with casual fans as many others.
Which is a shame because there are some really, really good teams, coaches and schools in the conference.
But that's "Big Time" College Sports in the current TV Money era. It isn't always about who's the best team, it's often about the one with the "Biggest Name"....
And there within lies the hurdle keeping Villanova from ever being "Elite"....