I love how all these talking heads at ESPN or “insert network sports department here” fashion themselves as experts on who is going to cut down the nets every year at the NCAA tournament. Let’s take a look at this graphic from ESPN that detailed all the picks from 13 of their “experts” who cover College Basketball regularly. And we’re talking big name College Hoops names – Dick Vitale, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas, and on and on.
A total of 13 “experts” each selected their picks for the Final Four – so that’s 52 total slots (13 x 4) across all of them. Eleven of the 13 picked Louisville to make the Final Four, which really didn’t take much hoops knowledge to pick. However, if we removed that pretty obvious Louisville region/pick from the equation, a grand total of one Final Four slot across the remaining 39 was accurately predicted by these ‘experts’ – Dickie V picking Michigan. That’s a 2.5% accuracy rate for those of your scoring at home (or for those of you who are alone).
Yeah, yeah…it’s parody in college basketball. The talent is distributed to all the different teams out there. I know, I know…that’s the cover. But really, these guys are supposed to be experts and cover this sport daily so I would expect them to have a better take on who is really going to go deep into the Tournament and make the Final Four. But the reality is that I could have showed up in Bristol and sat in front of a camera and predicted the Final Four just as well as they could.
Through the course of the sports year, and ahead of big sports events like the Super Bowl or the World Series or the NCAA Tournament, I sometimes take a cursory glance at the recent covers of Sports Illustrated and specifically those that feature said upcoming sporting event, mostly to see if the “SI Cover Jinx” still has it’s mojo intact. This is made exceedingly easier via their iPad app since there is a library of past issues that go back a few years to when they started offering digital versions of the magazine.
For those of you who don’t know, the “SI Cover Curse” is an urban legend where those athletes or teams featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated are cursed and/or jinxed to suffer loss, injury or both within a reasonable time frame after the cover story/feature. As you will see in examples listed at the above linked Wikipedia page, this is not a passing fad and it goes back years.
With Final Four weekend upon us, I thought it would be interesting to look at the SI covers and see if the “SI Cover Curse” could be a pseudo predictor of who may cut down the nets this weekend at the Final Four down in Atlanta.
And I want to be crystal clear here. I am the biggest Syracuse homer that you will find. My support and belief that my Orange(men) will win it all this year (and every year) is, and will forever be, unquestioned. That is, until the finality of a game’s result sets in. And to that end, sometimes you realize that there are forces (or Coaching ineptitude) at play that are beyond your or my control.
To start, let’s go to the SI College Hoops Preview back in November. Cody Zeller and Indiana are on the cover. As we know, they were sent home in the Sweet 16 round by my Syracuse Orange. And wow, did Zeller look really really bad in that loss.
Next, let’s look at the SI issue from March 25. They had a regional split of covers that included Indiana (Victor Oladipo), Gonzaga (Kelly Olynyk), Kansas (Ben McLemore) and Syracuse (Michael Carter-Williams). Indiana fell in the Round of 16. Gonzaga lost to Wichita State in the round of 32. Kansas choked lost to Michigan in the Elite 8. Only Syracuse is still standing.
And this week, SI has another regional cover split that includes Wichita State and Louisville (along with Tiger Woods and we won’t get into his, ahem, transgressions).
So if we cross reference all of these recent College Basketball focused covers this against the Final Four teams of Syracuse, Michigan, Wichita State, and Louisville, we see that the only team which has not been featured on the cover is Michigan.
And in this case, I fear that the Michigan Wolverines may have the advantage of the “SI Cover Curse” in their favor, since they have NOT been featured to date on the magazine’s cover.
Now, another factor to be considered here is the fact that “magazines” as we have known them are not nearly as influential in the media world as they once were. However, for some strange, outer body reason, the influence of the “SI Cover Curse” seems to be pretty alive and well.
Based on the above details, and I want to be clear that this is not my prediction or how I want things to play out, it appears that the “covers” are telling us that Louisville will beat Wichita State, Michigan will beat Syracuse, and Michigan will beat Louisville in the Finals on Monday night.
For all your Syracuse fans out there, I thought I’d whip up a quick Syracuse Final Four desktop background to use on your computer this week. Pretty straight forward – SU logo plus the 5 logos from the Final Fours we have been to (1975, 1987, 1996, 2003 [Champs], 2013,2016).
For the fourth time, my Syracuse Orange(men) are heading to the Final Four. Syracuse has actually been remarkably consistent in it’s runs to the Final Four, going roughly once every nine years (1987, 1996, 2003, 2013) and once in each of the past four decades.
No matter what happens next weekend down in Atlanta, I’m still proud of the team. Now go out and bring back another championship to the Dome!!