INDIANAPOLIS—When Ali Farokhmanesh hit his game-winning shot to lift ninth-seed Northern Iowa over top-ranked Kansas last Saturday, it was a true Cinderella moment for the NCAA Tournament, a rare second-round knockout of a high-major opponent by a scrappy, fundamentally sound mid-major semi-upper-lower-middle-mid.
But when the dust of the weekend had cleared, and Xavier, Butler, Cornell, and St. Mary's had all advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, it sent a clear message to the entire NCAA: The era of the mid-major semi-upper-lower-middle-mid had truly begun.
"What people are seeing here, once they get past the excitement of a sub-upper-major team like Georgetown losing to a moderate-mid-minor like Ohio, is increased parity across the board," Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. "In the second round, everyone saw how minor mid-sub-major Cornell handled neo-mid-half-major Wisconsin. In the first, they saw how major mid-minor Xavier trounced semi-high-major Minnesota. And now they're starting to wonder exactly what to call us."
Eleven different conferences are represented in this year's Sweet Sixteen, which pitted high-scoring para-mid-semi-diminished-sub-mid-major Cornell against the tournament's top seed and its top-ranked remaining team, major-major-major-major Kentucky.
"Kentucky is a major-major-major-major basketball school, no two ways about it," Cornell senior Jon Jaques wrote on his blog Wednesday. "We may be a low-mid-upper-mid-downer-middle-mid-micro-submacro school from upstate New York, but we've never let it hold us back. When the Big Dance is over, I wouldn't be surprised to see people calling Cornell a mid-upper-parallel-medial, or even a para-demi-duo-double major. I think we've proved something to the world."
Indeed, the excellent performance of the sub-infra-pianoforte-majors, schools once dismissed as round-one tune-ups for the über-mega-ne-plus-ultra-majors, has raised talk of expanding the NCAA Tournament field to 96 teams. While more March Madness would be welcome among fans and advertisers, the smaller, low-minor-quasi major-flexi-undergrounder schools have said they can compete on their own merits.
"Obviously, Northern Iowa got a raw deal and a tough seed from the selection committee, which thought it was sending some poor sub-anti-contra-widdershins-proto-midbeneather-mid-minor up against the top-ranked hyper-mega-major," Missouri Valley commissioner Doug Elgin said. "But when you look at what happened, you realize they weren't looking at the basketball we were capable of playing. Maybe they let those easy labels get the better of them."
Some coaches of smaller schools, those casually dismissed as under-midi-mezzo-hemi-trans-mid-middle-middling-middlest-minimalistic majors, have said they could accept an expanded tournament if the champions of all conferences received an automatic bid. Others have said the selection committee should operate as normal, but that it should be mindful not to give the medium-large half-major half-minors automatic consideration. In any event, everyone seems to agree that the major- x1023-majors have been given something to think about.
"We've made a statement on behalf of all the mid-supra-over-intra-circum-double-treble-omni-meta-majora-cosmologica-mondo minors, and people across the basketball world have taken notice," George Mason coach Jim Larranaga said. "Finally, people are starting to realize that college basketball teams aren't as simple to classify as they once believed."