College basketball’s world is flattening. A year ago, 15th-seeded Norfolk State — remember them? — stunned Missouri. Top seed Gonzaga already fell in this year’s tournament. For as much attention as seeds receive, they’re just numbers assigned in a conference room, not absolute measures of a team’s value. Even Florida Gulf Coast, after upsetting Miami earlier this season and winning the Atlantic Sun, found its No. 15 seed much too low.
March is about anything happening. And that’s why Thompson’s program shouldn’t be judged on the month’s disappointments.
Forty minutes don’t unravel four months that gave them the Big East’s Coach and Player of the Year. Forty less-than-stellar minutes don’t make Porter any less of a projected NBA lottery pick. And those five NCAA tournament losses in their first or second game since 2008 don’t invalidate the success during those seasons. After all, Davidson advanced to the Elite Eight after beating Georgetown; VCU went to the Final Four.
The only constant through those losses is Thompson, and he’s constantly proven he can win.
If winning in March is the bottom line — throw out the rest of the calendar and any other indicator of success you can dream up from graduation rates to conference titles — then any pretense that college basketball isn’t a business has been obliterated.
There’s more to college basketball than that. At least there should be. More than brackets and upsets and seasons defined by the madness that, once again, sent Georgetown home early and thrust an unknown into the limelight. March is heartbreaking and beautiful and, above all, filled with possibility.