Luke Henne | Editor-in-Chief
March 30, 2023
The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament captures the attention of millions of American — avid fan or not — for a few weeks during every March and April.
People live for the historic upsets, the horribly inaccurate brackets and the thrill of almost every game.
This year has been different, but don’t mistake the importance of this year’s Final Four. It’s about time that the “little guys” are running the show.
On Saturday, four teams — San Diego State, Florida Atlantic, Miami (Florida) and Connecticut will take the court at NRG Stadium in Houston, seeking to make it to Monday night’s national title game.
Connecticut has won four national championships and will be making its sixth Final Four appearance in the last 25 seasons. However, the other three programs will all be making their first trip to the Final Four in school history.
Florida Atlantic — a member of Conference USA — is making just its second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, and plays in a gym with a capacity of less than 3,000 people.
San Diego State is the first Mountain West Conference team to ever make it to the Final Four.
While Miami is a member of the reputable Atlantic Coast Conference and Connecticut is a part of the always-vaunted Big East Conference, it’s clear the tides are turning.
This year’s tournament has proved that the gap between power programs and mid-major programs is quickly tightening.
That was also evidenced in this year’s tournament when Furman stunned Virginia and when Fairleigh Dickinson shocked Purdue.
Florida Atlantic and San Diego State will square off in the first national semifinal, meaning that a non-Gonzaga mid-major will be in the national title game for the first time since Butler (then in the Horizon League) in 2011.
Even if Miami or Connecticut hoists the trophy on Monday, it’s clear that David and Goliath are not as far apart as they used to be.