Yet Another NCAA Tournament Without New England Teams
Harvard is the only only New England team to make the Big Dance. Good for them, bad for everyone else.
Itâ€™s a rough time for New England’s college basketball teams. Harvard is the only New England team in this year’s NCAA tournament. On Thursday, the 14th-seeded Crimson will face third-seeded New Mexico in Salt Lake City. (On Twitter, the match-up has already been deemed â€śMATH VS. METH.â€ť) While Iâ€™m happy that coach Tommy Amakerâ€™s squad is March Madness-bound for the second straight year, Iâ€™m sad that the rest of the regionâ€™s top programs are barely relevant.
Boston College last made the tourney in 2009, Providence in 2004, Rhode Island in 1999, and Massachusetts in 1998. Perennial powerhouse Connecticut won a national title in 2011, but the team didnâ€™t make this yearâ€™s tournament. The absence of coach Jim Calhoun, who retired last year, has temporarily erased the Huskiesâ€™ mystique.
Maybe Iâ€™m too nostalgic, but I miss the time when there were multiple college hoop teams with local ties playing every spring. The mere act of following Bostonâ€™s pro teams is exhausting. Meaningful college basketball games were a nice alternative.
In the 1990s, BC (â€™94), Providence (â€™97), URI (â€™98), all made the Elite Eight. The Eaglesâ€™ run in â€™94 was both unlikely and dramatic. After upsetting defending national champion North Carolinaâ€”a team that had Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallaceâ€”in the second round, they even ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Duxburyâ€™s Bill Curley, BCâ€™s star forward, was front and center.
But really, the â€™90s belonged to UMass. The Minutemen made to the Elite Eight in â€™95 and the Final Four in â€™96. And despite the fact that the NCAA vacated the latter achievement due to star Marcus Cambyâ€™s transgressions, nothing couldâ€™ve spoiled that run for me.
OK, so UMass isnâ€™t likely to replicate that kind of success. But itâ€™d be nice to have a local presence in the NCAA tournament again. Unfortunately, Harvard alone just doesnâ€™t cut it.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/03/18/ncaa-tournament-devoid-of-local-flavor/