What a National Championship Would Mean For Each Final Four Team…

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on March 31st, 2018

With the Final Four set to begin this evening in San Antonio, the college basketball world is getting close to crowning its 2018 National Champion. With the ultimate goal of standing atop a Werner ladder cutting down the nets now in sight, the question becomes what would a title mean for each of the remaining four programs. Let’s examine each in more detail.

Kansas Slayed Mighty Duke to Get to the Final Four (USA Today Images)

A National Championship for Kansas would… be the program’s fourth NCAA title overall, putting the Jayhawks in the same company as Connecticut, Duke, Florida and North Carolina as programs with multiple championships since 2000. A second ring would make Bill Self the 14th head coach with multiple titles and just the third active coach with at least two. It would also further erase the memory of first round exits at the hands of Bradley and Bucknell early in Self’s tenure at Kansas, as well as the no-shows against VCU, Northern Iowa and Oregon in recent years.

A win would also further elevate Devonte’ Graham in Jayhawks’ lore. The Big 12 Player of the Year, a consensus All-American, a four-year player, and the possibility of a National Championship could combine to getting Graham’s jersey lifted into the Allen Fieldhouse rafters some day.

A National Championship for Loyola would… be historic for the “little guy.” While a pair of wins in San Antonio would produce the program’s second National Championship, the shift of the college basketball landscape over the last several decades has put all but a few mid-major programs like Loyola in a large and difficult hole. The annual margin of error is minuscule come conference tournament time and NCAA Tournament paths are rarely advantageous as a result. A win by a mid-major program would remind everyone that these teams deserve not only inclusion in the tournament, but they help make the tournament as great as it is.

By cutting down the nets on Monday night, Porter Moser would become the immediate “it” coach at any number of interested programs. While leaving Loyola immediately after a National Championship might be unlikely, a new contract at Loyola is a certainty. If Moser is able to guide Loyola to a championship this year followed by another strong season in 2018-19, he will have plenty of opportunities to vault himself into a power conference coaching position as soon as he likes.

A National Championship for Michigan would… be a big win for both the program and the Big Ten. Michigan’s one and only National Championship came in 1989 and the conference has only notched one additional title since then (Michigan State – 2000). By cutting down the nets on Monday night, Michigan would be sending a message to the other football schools around the country that winning a title in basketball is very much possible with the right coaching and commitment. From a coaches perspective, John Beilein has accomplished just about everything in the business with the exception of winning a title, so a pair of wins in San Antonio would give him the only thing missing from his resume. For a coach that began his career coaching at the high school and community college level, a ring would give Beilein the name recognition he deserves from the casual fan.

If Michigan cuts down the nets, the heroics of Jordan Poole‘s game-winner against Houston will replace the likes of Trey Burke’s buzzer-beater or Chris Webber’s timeout in Michigan’s NCAA Tournament history. As in-state rivals Michigan State continues to deal with turmoil and distractions from its own athletic department, a National Championship could further alter the balance of power on the hardwood within both the state and the conference.

A National Championship for Villanova would… be a fitting end to a memorable season following the death of longtime coach Rollie Massimino last August. A title would be Villanova’s second in the past three years and it would end references to Jay Wright’s 3-4 record in the 2013, 2014 and 2017 NCAA Tournaments. Another Villanova National Championship would further prove that the Big East remains a conference to be reckoned with even without the likes of Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse around. The Wildcats’ success in both the classroom and on the floor proves that winning the right way and winning without one-and-done players can also be the focal point of long-term success.

Matthew Eisenberg (140 Posts)

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