It has been another fun and exciting first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament so far and the power schools and conferences have risen to the challenge again as the Sweet 16 is filled with them. Kudos to the Big East Conference who has a record 5 teams in the Sweet 16. ACC fans can drop that debate finally of who exactly the best conference- there is no debate. It was and is the Big East.
Panther fans, Are you excited or nervous? The Panthers have been here plenty of times before, and couldn't advance. I know they made you nervous in the first two rounds, they sure had me sweating it out as well. The match ups could potentially favor the Panthers. First Xavier and then maybe Duke? I think Villanova will beat Duke, but for the case of this argument let's just assume the Blue Devils advance. Who on these teams will be able to handle Dejuan Blair and the Panthers toughness? Answer is nobody. Yes, the match ups favor the Panthers, they should have no problem advancing. Wait a minute......... we have been down this road before as well. Kent State...anyone?
The fact is, Panther fans have to be on the edge of their seats, hoping for the best, expecting the worse. This team will have let us down again without a trip to Detroit, but I still think it will happen, Nova does strike fear , but that is a payback game and I think the Panthers will be fine.
My problem comes when and if they win the title. How do Panther fans react? What becomes of the expectations of the team every year. What happens when their top 3 players are suddenly gone and the Panthers get young real quick?
All the credit in the world goes to Jamie Dixon and his staff. Dixon knows the goal is simple, win the national championship, but be very careful what you ask for. Let's assume the Panthers cut down the nets in Detroit. What happens when Field, Young and Blair leave (I feel Blair stays around for one more). You don't replace guys like that. Finally the Panthers have guys to build around. What happens if next season the Panthers only reach the Sweet 16? Then the year after, the same results. Are Panther fans gonna suddenly call for Jamie Dixon's head? I hope not, but it will happen.
Take a look at the University of Florida. Billy Donavon has delivered Gator Fans not one, but two titles this decade. Back to back titles, yet Gator fans can't run him out of town fast enough. It doesn't matter that his entire team declared early for the NBA Draft, what matters is he hasn't won a title in a couple of years. What have you don for me lately? how quickly fans forget. Let's not allow Jamie Dixon to come under similar circumstances.
Fact is the Panthers window may be closing for a year or two, so they need to get it done. No matter weather they win the title or lose in the Sweet 16 this week, give Jamie Dixon his just due. Coaches like him don't come around to often. It would be a shame to run him out of town.