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What Is The Football Equivalent In Basketball?

Can you compare the two sports and their achievements?

NCAA Basketball: Fordham at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

As the social media storm surrounding the West Virginia Mountaineers and head coach Dana Holgorsen rages on, I began to listen to the fans. One of the most common complaints from fans was that while the football team struggles with Big 12 play, the other sports on campus have taken to the challenge and risen to greater heights. The one most pointed out is Bob Huggins and the men’s basketball team.

Nearly every Mountaineer fan thought the team would come from the old Big East, which was viewed as one of the toughest basketball conferences yearly and simply be a force from day one. That wasn’t the case as the learning curve in conference proved to be steeper than originally thought. The inaugural squad finished below .500 and didn’t receive a tournament (NCAA or NIT) invitation. The following year, the Mountaineers finished above .500 but were bounced in the first round of the NIT tournament.

Since then, Bob Huggins switched to the #PressVirginia and the Mountaineers have made the NCAA tournament as a 5, 3 and 4 seed. So the question is: What is football equivalent to what the Mountaineers have done in basketball.

Regular season championship vs tournament championship

Let’s start here. Basketball is unique in that you can win the regular season based on conference record but then must do it again in a single-elimination tournament. The Big 12, with only 10 teams, allows the entire conference to be eligible for the basketball tournament.

The Kansas Jayhawks, led by head coach Bill Self, won their 13th consecutive regular season conference title but failed to win the tournament title. Iowa St. Cyclones, who were a 4 seed won the tournament with an 80-74 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Which is more impressive, the regular season win or the tournament win? Are either comparable to the Big 12 Championship Game?

Making the Tournament

Moving on, now we have to look at the NCAA tournament. Ignoring the history and past of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), I’m going to focus on the NCAA tournament because it is the one that provides an opportunity for a National Championship.

If your squad is simply good enough, based on regular season record or a hot streak in your conference tournament, you can become one of the 68 teams allowed into the field of the NCAA Tournament.

36 teams will lose on opening week play. Is there an equivalent to simply making the tournament? Is it the same as making a low-level bowl game, like the Heart of Dallas Bowl?

Making the Sweet 16

For the Mountaineers, given that we’ve been seeded both a 3 and a 4, the Sweet 16 is the basic requirement for the squad most years. That makes you one of the 16 best (remaining?) teams in the country with a real chance to win a championship.

In general, once you get to the Sweet 16, the games become much tougher. What would you say is the equivalent in football? Is the Sweet 16 the Post December 27th games like the Holiday Bowl and Camping World Bowl and Outback or do you put the Sweet 16 as a New Years 6 bowl like the Cotton, Peach and Citrus Bowls?

Elite 8

The Elite 8 seems to be forgotten by many fans, including me. The Sweet 16 is the second weekend of the tournament and where you get a feel of the tournament. The Final 4 is when the tournament takes on a whole new feel with a championship within your grasps. The Elite 8 is this weird in between. Its a prestigious achievement for the school but seems to be overlooked nationally.

Does the Elite 8 hold the same reverance as making the Sweet 16? Is there a clear demarcation between the Elite 8 and the Sweet 16? Is this where you say the Sweet 16 is the late year bowl games but the Elite 8 is the New Years 6?

The Final 4

Everyone seems to agree that if you make the Final 4, that is the same as making the College Football Playoffs. On the surface, it would seem to make sense, with the number of teams being the same and that you are going to have to win two games against presumably the best teams in the nation to claim the crown.

Do you consider that the Football Playoffs have a committee that hand picks the teams in the tournament while the Basketball committee is only seeding 68 teams and then lets the games play out as they do? Is it tougher to make the Big 4 in the Football Playoffs or is it tougher to run the gauntlet of the NCAA tournament?

What The Fans Have Said

What do you guys think? Is there an equivalent of making the tournament, making the Sweet 16 or the Final 4?