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Final Four: The Track Meet

Who would win on the track?

Emmert has definitely had worse ideas.
Emmert has definitely had worse ideas.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend brings us one of the most exciting sporting events, the Final Four. Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and somehow, Syracuse. Seeing the bracket got me thinking, what if the NCAA indoor track championship for teams was determined in a quad meet? Well, that thought is utterly ridiculous, which is why I went ahead and determined who would win if the four teams in this year's Final Four met in a quad meet.

To set this up, I looked at two sets of data. I first looked at performers and times from the NCAA indoor championships. Runners for those four mens teams who competed at nationals were immediately included in the result. Next, I looked at conference championships. Each team could have up to three runners entered in these hypothetical races, so I simply took their three fastest times from nationals and the conference meets. Why these two races? Well, I did not want to go crazy looking through results of every single meet that these teams competed in, and I felt that these two would give a pretty good sample size. And even if this excluded some of the runners fastest times, it still leaves in the factor that the best runner does not always necessarily win on any given day. So, now that we have the set up, let's look at the results.

  1. Syracuse- 126 points
  2. Villanova- 123 points
  3. Oklahoma- 107 points
  4. North Carolina- 59 points

Ok, now let's break down what happened here. As you can tell, it was pretty close between Syracuse and Villanova. The races that I included were as follows: mile, 60 meter hurdles, 60 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters, Distance Medley Relay, and 4x400 meter relay. I also included four field events: pole vault, long jump, high jump, and weight throw. The scoring was 10 points for first, 8 points for second, 6 points for third, 5 for fourth, 4 for fifth, 3 for sixth, 2 for seventh, and 1 point for eighth place, just like in the NCAA.

Syracuse absolutely dominated the competition in the running events. In three separate events they earned at least 20 points, with 23 points in the 5,000 meter run and 24 points in both the 60 meter hurdles and 3,000 meter run. Those three events alone gave Syracuse 71 points. That's more then UNC had total. Clearly, distance wins championships.

The point breakdown for just running events was:

  1. Syracuse- 118 points
  2. Villanova- 94 points
  3. Oklahoma-58 points
  4. North Carolina- 20 points

What really separated Syracuse and Villanova from the others was not just wins, but depth. UNC did not enter a 4x400 in the ACC championships, and Oklahoma's 4x400 team was disqualified at the Big 12 championships. That gave 10 points to Villanova, 8 points to Syracuse, and 0 points to anyone else. 0 points was really a common theme for UNC. They did not have anyone entered in the 3,000 meter run or the DMR, and only had one runner entered in the 400 and 800. Depth brought their score down, and one would assume that with a larger sample size they would have been closer to the other teams.

The point breakdown for just field events was:

  1. Oklahoma- 49 points
  2. North Carolina- 29 points
  3. Villanova- 29 points
  4. Syracuse- 8 points

I have to admit, the descending order by 10 points made me check my math one more time, but it added up. Oklahoma won more events then any other team with two, giving them 20 points right there, and had a slew of second and third place finishes. North Carolina had a huge advantage with their depth in the long jump, having three athletes score points in the same event. Syracuse had only one competitor in the field events, and that was in the high jump. Like the North Carolina issue in the running events, a larger sample size would have given Syracuse more field event points. Considering that they won this "national championship" as well as a real one in cross country last fall, I am really not feeling sorry for them.

High Point: Tie- Colin Bennie, Freshman, Syracuse, and Justyn Knight, Sophomore, Syracuse. 18 points

This is where it gets interesting. Bennie won the 5,000 meter with a time of 13:53 with Knight behind him in 14:01. Just two seconds behind Knight was Vilanova's Patrick Tiernan. In the 3,000 meter run, Knight won the race with a time of 8:02 with Bennie just three seconds behind him in 8:05. I feel that if this quad meet happened in real life we would have been in for a real treat with Tiernan. Unfortunately he did not run at nationals due to illness, but this race is hypothetical, so we can keep dreaming anyway.

So there you have it. Syracuse is the champion of the Final Four Quad Meet. This indoor track meet is without a doubt the most prestigious in the country, and Syracuse should definitely display the trophy from it in a prominent on-campus location.

To Syracuse: Display that trophy with pride.

To Villanova: Don't antagonize over those three points. Just work on developing your sprinters and it can be yours.

To Oklahoma: Better luck next time.

To North Carolina: Please please please invest in track and field.