Only the big boys go to the big dance.
* Most of my content is available at the St. John’s blog Rumble in the Garden on SB Nation, but I wanted to make a quick note on this topic.
I share this not because it has much relevance for St. John’s, but because it’s JUST NOT TRUE. Contained in an otherwise sharp and insightful article about new Miami head coach Jim Larranaga – who came from George Mason University, that surprise NCAA Final Four team back in 2006 – is this bit of mythmaking about where a coach/ program needs to be positioned for a real shot at NCAA’s Final Four, the holy grail of the sport, from Andy Katz:
The theory that a coach has to move to a power-six job to compete for a national title seems to have less clout. Larranaga, in large part, helped start the trend that has since been followed by Butler’s Brad Stevens and VCU’s Shaka Smart.
Last year’s results were simply improbable:
Multiplying the probabilities together, we find that the 2006 Final Four had a 0.00213% chance of happening based on seeds, the 2000 Final Four had a 0.00092% chance of happening, and the 2011 Final Four had a staggering 0.00008% chance (about 1 in 1,229,650) of happening.
Even Connecticut’s entry was a bit of surprise, as a #3 seed in the tournament; and their regular season Big East record had them in the middle of the league. Still, in earlier years, the Final Four is almost always represented by power conference teams who earn high seeds in the tournament… by beating other power conference teams.
If a coach wants a real chance to get to the Final Four, not just a once-in-a-lifetime luck shot, and that coach isn’t named Brad Stevens, he has to be in a major/ power/ big six conference. Point blank.