If you have been following the NCAA basketball tournament, you no doubt are aware that March Madness has been particularly mad this year.
As I write this, only one of the tournament's top four seeds is among the final eight teams left from the original 68-team field, and if you read this on Monday, that team, Kansas, could be packing up its equipment and looking to the 2011-12 season.
I kind of doubt that is going to happen, though. The Jayhawks have been the most consistent team in the tourney, and they seem likely to end the magical run of Virginia Commonwealth, which has become the first team to win four games in the event and still need one more win to reach the Final Four.
But you never know. Maybe the Jayhawks will shoot as poorly against VCU as Ohio State did in its loss to Kentucky, or get steamrolled like Duke in its loss to Arizona, or do something really dumb like Pittsburgh against Butler.
It really would be kind of nice to see no No. 1 seed to make it to the Final Four. That has happened only twice since they began seeding the field in 1979 -- in 1980 and again five years ago in 2006. At least one No. 1 has made the Final Four in all the other years, usually two.
Three years ago all four No. 1 seeds made it to the national semifinals. Ugh. What fun would it be if the favorite won the Kentucky Derby every year?
But here’s what I’m wondering about the eight teams (or six or four, depending on when you read this) left in the tourney:
How many would be there if they had to rely mostly on homegrown talent?
My guess: Not very many. One, possibly, but likely no more than two.
Here’s a synopsis of the rosters of those eight teams:
Arizona: Three of the 15 players on the Wildcats’ roster are from in-state, but six others are from California. Good thing, too, because though none of the in-state players start, three of the Californians -- team leader Derrick Williams, Kyle Fogg, and Solomon Hill -- do. The other two starters are from Missouri (Jesse Perry) and New York (Lamont Jones).
Butler: The Bulldogs start three players from Indiana -- Andrew Smith (from Indianapolis, where the campus is located), Matt Howard and Chase Sigall). The other two starters are from Kentucky (Shelvin Mack) and Florida (Shaw Vanzant). In all, 10 of the 14 players on the roster are homegrown.
Connecticut: Only three on the 16-player roster as in-state products. Star Kemba Walker is from New York. Three other starters are from Massachusetts (Alex Oriakhi), Georgia (Jeremy Lamb), and Maryland (Roscoe Smith). The fifth starter in UConn’s tourney run has been Tyler Olander (Connecticut) or Charles Okwander (Nigeria).
Florida: Of the 13 players on the active roster, six are Floridians. They include starting guard Kenny Boynton and forward Chandler Parsons. Two key backups, Patric Young and Scott Wilbekin, also are from the state. The other starters are from Virginia (Vernon Macklin), New York (Erving Walker), and Missouri (Alex Tyus).
Kansas: Of the 16 Jayhawks (including walk-ons), four are from Kansas. Two of them, guards Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, are starters. Morningstar actually is from Lawrence, though he played a year in prep school in New Hampshire before returning to his hometown. The other starters are from Pennsylvania (twins Markieff and Marcus Morris) and New Jersey (Tyshawn Taylor).
Kentucky: Of the 10-player roster, three are from Kentucky, but only one, Darius Miller, starts. The other two, Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson, hardly play. The other four starters are from Oregon (Terrence Jones), Florida (Brandon Knight), Missouri (Josh Harrellson and either New York (Doron Lamb) and Illinois (DeAndre Liggins).
North Carolina: The Tar Heels list 15 players on their roster, seven of whom are in-state products. But a closer look reveals that of those seven, only one, Reggie Bullock, a freshman guard who plays about 15 minutes a game off the bench, sees significant time. The starters are from Iowa (Harrison Barnes), Indiana (Tyler Zeller), Florida (John Henson), Virginia (Kendall Marshall), and New Jersey (Dexter Strickland).
VCU: Only four players on VCU’s roster are from Virginia, but one of them is top scorer Brad Burgess. Of the other starters in VCU’s win over Florida State, two are from Florida (Ed Nixon and Joey Rodriguez), one from North Carolina (Jamie Skeen), and one from California (D.J. Haley). One of the key reserves, Brandon Rozzell, is from Richmond, where the campus is located.
Frankly, I’m not sure what all this leads up to except that it appears Florida, Florida State, Miami, and some of the other Sunshine State schools could have pretty good teams relying on homegrown talent alone.
I’m not so sure about Kentucky and North Carolina, which happened to rank 1-2 in number of all-time wins in college basketball history.
I also remember something an old college football coach once said when the subject of recruiting out-of-state players came up.
“You’ve got to allow it,” he said, or words to that effect, “or Wyoming will have to fill out its roster with jackrabbits and coyotes.”