FanDuel - WFBC

March 17, 2008

NCAA tourney is the best, but it could be even better.: The NCAA tournament is the best three-plus weeks of hoops, maybe of anything, on the planet. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. It isn't.

posted by BoKnows to basketball at 10:55 AM - 26 comments

Yes, I agree, the championship trophy looks circa, 1982, and put Arizona State, who beat Arizona both times, and had a better conference record in instead of the Wildcats....

posted by 4ArmShiver at 11:22 AM on March 17

There's always a case to select a different team in place of another every year in this tournament, but I agree the Sun Devils got shafted badly here. Only thing I can think of is that they tanked badly against UCLA twice, whereas the 'Cats at least kept one of the games against the Bruins close. But that shouldn't matter, they're all losses anyway. Swap ASU in for UA and we're good.

posted by NerfballPro at 12:23 PM on March 17

Great article! Excellent justification for just about every point. I especially like the neutrality issue for officials being tossed out. And definitely update the championship hardware--but make sure it's not a cup of any kind ... 'cause most of the "student-athletes" probably shouldn't drink out of it anyway.

posted by Spitztengle at 12:28 PM on March 17

The NCAA tournament is the best three-plus weeks of hoops, maybe of anything, on the planet. Hardly. The World Cup and the Olympics are two sporting events that come immediately to mind that are vastly superior in both excitement and pagentry than a domestic college basketball tournament.

posted by tommytrump at 01:03 PM on March 17

I saw the numbers they put up for Arizona State on ESPN after the selection show last night when everyone was arguing for them, and frankly I wasn't very impressed -- 5-10 in the last 15, very low strength of schedule. If anyone got hosed, I would say it was Dayton or Illinois State. I'm of the opinion that the #2 or #3 team in a small conference should be given the nod over the #6/7/8 team from a large conference. The BCS conference teams had their chance to make their statement in league play. If based on that they are a bubble team, then maybe they're not that great. At least they had their shot. The smaller teams, on the other hand, did not have nearly as good a chance to turn anyone's head with their schedule. If they were good enough to warrant consideration, then they should get they opportunity in the tournament. Maybe Dayton isn't better than Arizona or Arizona State, but those other two have already had a chance to show how good they were and ended up with bubble-worthy resumes. (And no, I'm not a fan of a small school--my team is Ohio State. While I would have been excited to see us get selected, the NIT is all we earned this season.) I have a second bone of contention that didn't exactlty appear here but is certainly related. I think the conference tournaments should be scaled back so that only the better teams are allowed in. As it is--and particularly for the one-bid conferences--the regular season is effectively rendered meaningless when every team gets into the tournament and any one team can get hot and string together 4 wins and get into the NCAA tournament over a team that had a much better season. Why should the last 4 games count more than the first 25?

posted by bender at 01:22 PM on March 17

Given the smaller tournament field in the '60s, Pete Maravich's LSU never appeared in the Big Dance, so far as I know. I believe you had to win your conference to get in. The upside was, this made the NIT an exciting tournament. Also, Bob Knight is the only coach to win NCAA, NIT, and CCA titles. He's still a dick.

posted by afl-aba at 02:50 PM on March 17

I agree with bender to a degree about the smaller conference tournaments and who is representing them. The regular season champion is the team that should represent those conferences, not the tournament champion. This doesn't bother me in the bigger confereces as much, because a team like Georgia winning doesn't keep teams like Mississippi State and Tenneesse out of the big tournament. But when a #7 seed in an 8-team tournament gets hot for three days and the regular-season champion has to sit at home because of it, that's making the regular season totally meaningless. I like the idea of a 68-team tournament far more than the idea proposed by some last night of going to 128 teams. I think it was Knight who argued that doing so would allow more teams to experience the magic associated with the tournament. The problem is: How is it special in any way if every frickin' team is playing in it? The size it is at is just about right, because you still have to do something to earn your way in. Minnesota, for example, would easily be in a 128-team field, but I can't look at this season and see any good reason why they should be there. I also like the ".500 rule", which might play well into the first point above.

posted by TheQatarian at 03:55 PM on March 17

One other thing: tommytrump, I'll believe what you say as soon as I see a synchronized swimming bracket pool at work.

posted by TheQatarian at 03:57 PM on March 17

I really don't think anyone got shafted this year. I think that the committee did a pretty darn good job of bringing computer numbers in line with the so called "eye test". If you are an A-10 team, and go 8-8 in conference, I'm sorry, you don't deserve the dance. Fact is, while they started out well, they were garbage down the stretch, which is why they were overlooked. Illinios St. did not beat one truly good team this year, and in their big match up in the Valley Championship, they got blown off the court by Drake. Again, eye test failed. As for Arizona St., while its good that they swept Arizona, they did suffer a 5 game losing streak, which is pretty tough for the committee to swallow, and didn't really challenge themselves in OOC. I will say however, I am a big fan of Sendek, and I think ASU will be solid next year, but this year, Arizona was still overall a better side. Virginia Tech, another team who though they got snubbed, beat only one tournament bound team all season, Miami. This year was a very weak bubble, but I still don't think that there is any strong agument to be made that these teams were better than the last five at larges in the tournament, Villanova, K-State, St. Joe's, Kentucky and Baylor.

posted by Chargdres at 03:58 PM on March 17

So the most accurate metric for the best-ness of an event is how many yobs are willing to bet on it around the office water cooler? I guess based on that, NASCAR really sucks.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:58 PM on March 17

Yeah...the opening round game is a farce. There's no honor in playing a game to see who gets destroyed by a 1 seed. And it does bother me that teams get the de facto home court advantage in many cases. Hello selection committe, have you been introduced to neutral site? The World Cup and the Olympics are two sporting events that come immediately to mind that are vastly superior in both excitement and pagentry than a domestic college basketball tournament. Different strokes for different folks. No sporting event is more exciting for me than the NCAA tourney.

posted by curlyelk at 04:05 PM on March 17

So the most accurate metric for the best-ness of an event is how many yobs are willing to bet on it around the office water cooler? I guess based on that, NASCAR really sucks. This should end well/ wendell/ bell end.

posted by yerfatma at 04:45 PM on March 17

Only if we could have a college football playoff system...ahhhhhh

posted by 4ArmShiver at 05:05 PM on March 17

I think that the tournament would be better if they could figure out how to make the basketball burst into flames when a shooter goes "En Fuego" ala video games. I guess based on that, NASCAR really sucks. No, that 'aint it. It's the way the numbers on the cars are all backward slanty from the "effect" of speed. Ruins the sport for us all.

posted by THX-1138 at 07:37 PM on March 17

Yeah...the opening round game is a farce. There's no honor in playing a game to see who gets destroyed by a 1 seed. And it does bother me that teams get the de facto home court advantage in many cases. Hello selection committe, have you been introduced to neutral site? I don't agree that the first round is a farce. For every #1 blowing out a #16 there is a #11 upsetting a #6 or a #14 or 15 making a run at beating a #2 or 3. Plus the fact that Most 8-9 and 10-7 games are basically toss ups of two pretty much even teams.

posted by scottypup at 07:52 AM on March 18

If you look at the first round (play-in) game a different way, either of the teams playing in that game is surely going to get destroyed by the 1 seed they will be playing 3 days later. However, by playing in the first round game, they both have what is essentially a 50-50 shot at doing what 33 of 65 teams won't do in winning 1 game in the NCAA tournament. It may not be as glamourous as the rest of the tournament, and there is of course the complementary 50-50 shot at losing out before the tournament really begins, but I suppose there could be some redeeming quality to playing in the game. That said, what is magical about 34 at-large teams in the tournament? I don't understand why they couldn't just drop it to 33 and bring the tournament to 64 teams like it should be.

posted by bender at 08:18 AM on March 18

Scottypup - I was referring to the play-in game. Sorry to be vague. The first round of games starting Thursday and Friday are the best basketball games of the year. It seems like half the games come down to a last second shot.

posted by curlyelk at 08:42 AM on March 18

A couple of years ago, I heard Lefty Driesell (former Maryland, JMU, and Ga St. coach) on local sports talk radio advocating expanding the tournament to all Division one teams in the country. It sounded crazy, but the way he sketched it out would have only added two additional rounds. I believe there were some byes for the higher seeded teams or something. I'm too busy to google for the details, but it ought to be considered in any conversation that mentions expanding the field.

posted by trox at 10:52 AM on March 18

I heard Lefty Driesell (former Maryland, JMU, and Ga St. coach) on local sports talk radio advocating expanding the tournament to all Division one teams in the country Maybe the solution (if one is really needed) is to create something like a Division 1AA for basketball, as there is in football. Have 2 separate tournaments, but once you get to the "Sweet 16" or "Elite 8" stage, combine the two. At that point, you will have the best of the mid-majors going against the best of the "large" schools. It adds one more game to those that winners would otherwise have to play, but if bracketed correctly, it could result in a number of upsets. Crazy idea, I know, but it might just work.

posted by Howard_T at 11:18 AM on March 18

The NCAA tournament already consists of every team in DI. Its called conference tournaments. For teams in bad mid major teams, those are their play in games. Expanding current field would be ridiculous and would only serve to water down the field unneccesarily. I don't agree with some pundits analysis that auto-bids should be discarded so that the field is truly the 64 "best teams", because I like the idea of having a diverse field, but I also don't want to see Radford or Savannah St. in the dance, nor do I want the Oregon States, Rutgers or Minnesotas (from this year). Those bubble teams that did not make it this year, instead of complaining that they were really the 50th best team in the country, and thus have a right to play for the championship, they should just work on improving for the next year so that they can make the field on their own merits, and not on some poorly thought out expansion.

posted by Chargdres at 04:25 PM on March 18

The NCAA tournament already consists of every team in DI. Its called conference tournaments. Chargdres, I agree with you in part. That is, teams in the weaker mid-major conferences must win their conference tournament in order to get to the NCAA. Getting to the NCAA tournament means $$$ for the conferences that make it. The more schools from your conference, the more $$$. There have been allegations in the past that some conferences have "influenced" the outcome of their tournament in order to get what otherwise might be a bubble team into the NCAA's. Generally, these conferences have enough strong teams, that they would not lose a slot by doing this. I'm not saying that it has happened, but there were some rumblings. What I was trying to get across was that placing the majors and mid-majors into 2 separate tournaments, then merging the final 8 or 16 from each into one championship, would accomplish 2 things. First, some of the mid-majors who did not make it in, despite good records and a fair RPI, would have a way to at least have a chance. Second, those major schools that are complaining would be into the tournament, and those that don't make it would truly have nothing to complain about. You could even cut down the number of teams in each tournament. Perhaps you start with 56 teams selected for each tournament. The #1 and #2 seeds get a bye, and the other 48 play a first round game. This then leaves you with 32 in each tournament and gives those teams who pre-selection have a shot at a #1 or #2 something to play for in their conference tournament. Of course, in my comment, I parenthetically said "if a fix is needed". Those who say one is not are very likely correct, and I have been having some weird thoughts lately.

posted by Howard_T at 05:33 PM on March 18

That's a good idea howard, but I don't like the specifics. While it is true that mid-majors do not always recieve the best chances to enter the tournament, I'm not sure a solid argument can be made for sixteen mid-majors that are better than the major conference teams that could have moved on in the normal field but lost in a bracket consisting only of majors. I agree that some mid-majors get shafted, but I don't think these teams are talented enough go the distance in the tournament often enough.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:33 PM on March 18

As a Gopher alum, I am surprised that anyone thought they should be in the tournament...they needed to step up and take care of Illinois. That being said, clearly, Minnesota (and a lot of DI teams that did not make the event) would make short work of the Coppin State/Mt. st. Mary/TX Arlington/etc teams. Maybe we can have a provision that states, if a mid-major conference's champion fails to win a game in the NCAA five straight years, that conference loses it's automatic bid for two years. That would open up a spot for the team that we have every year that should have made it, as in Arizona State this year.

posted by dviking at 11:06 PM on March 18

The opening game is good...it gives two unknown teams a chance to be on TV.

posted by Landis at 09:19 AM on March 20

What other "Three Weeks of Hoops" is the NCAA Tournament competing against? The Pan-Am games? I'll take the next three weeks (exluding the off week in early April) of college hockey any day over the NCAA tournament. The conference tournament semis, finals, and the NCAAH tournament are my favorite few weeks in sports. At least you have to have a great season to even get into the hockey tournament. But yet, like some one said, different strokes for different folks.

posted by BCHockey at 08:18 AM on March 21

The conference tournament semis, finals, and the NCAAH tournament are my favorite few weeks in sports. I'm with you, BCH. Sadly enough, once you get away from the NESN coverage area, or outside of the hockey hotbeds, you won't see much of the action. I'm going to be on the road starting early next week (yes, it's back to the desert), so I won't even be able to see the usual one-paragraph blurb in the newspaper. I'll have to be satisfied with the Hockey East finals this weekend.

posted by Howard_T at 05:15 PM on March 21

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