“…(don’t be surprised if) there’s a first-time champion for the third time in four years…Three of the top four seeds have never won a national title, and neither has eighth-seeded Penn State. Syracuse isn’t the traditionally imposing No. 1 seed the tournament has always enjoyed, though the likes of Ohio State and Denver have never experienced a national title game, either…”
In truth, this is as wide open as the regular season suggested it would be. The absence of a dominant team or two, far more than anything else, has created the opportunity for a team that simply strings its two or three best games together at the right time to win a title.
But where are Johns Hopkins, Princeton and Virginia? Finished with their seasons by the first weekend in May. In fact, it will be the first NCAA tournament ever without either Hopkins or Virginia.
Those decisions, too, were not shocking. Virginia’s fate was sealed with a losing record. Hopkins and Princeton simply didn’t muster deep enough resumes.
Instead, change continues to come. Over the last three years, 30 schools have reached the NCAA tournament. Bryant and Detroit will make their first appearances this year. Albany, Penn State and Towson are ending droughts of at least five years. And now, more than ever before, the turnover in the field is to be expected.