If Michigan beats No.1 seed Villanova for the national championship, it will be a bit of validation for Big 10 commissioner and UNC alum Jim Delany. He was roundly criticized for hurting league teams’ NCAA chances by staging their conference tournament a week early.
That accelerated schedule enabled the Big 10 to stage its tournament at Madison Square Garden, where it preceded the Big East’s annual event.
Delany aced the ACC in starting a league network in 2007, raking in enhanced revenues for more than a decade while its southern counterpart is still getting its effort underway. He similarly brought the Big 10 to the most coveted basketball stage of all by ending its league schedule a week early, leaving the ACC to make believe Brooklyn was equivalent to the Great White Way. (That showbiz nickname has nothing to do with making America great again.)
What’s more, the truncated Big 10 season clearly didn’t hurt Michigan’s NCAA chances, as predicted, a fact those who decry the enervating impact of the ACC Tournament can take and shove up their…brackets.
A win by Michigan, a third seed, would be the first since 1997 by a team seeded lower than second over a No.1. That year Arizona topped Kentucky to win the NCAA championship.
The odds are not in the Wolverines’ favor. Over the past two decades, 11 NCAA titles were captured by No. 1 seeds, including UNC last year.
There have been just three times a lower seed topped a higher-seeded squad since 1998: No. 2 Villanova over top-seed Carolina in 2016; No. 3 Florida over No. 2 UCLA in 2006; and No. 3 Syracuse over second-seed Kansas in 2003.
Seeds of Teams in National Title Game Since 2000
(2018 To Be Determined)