I know most people are ranting and raving about their college basketball brackets right now. While all the number one seeds are still alive for the moment, the number two seeds have taken a huge hit. My brackets – yes, I filled out two this year – don’t look pretty but I still have a chance to have the overall winner correct in both of them.
I want to rant about something else, something that grates on my nerves almost as much as the Bowl Championship Series in collegiate football.
Let me preface this all by saying I am a huge college basketball fan. Do I like professional basketball? No but I love college hoops. I have been a huge fan since, well, college. I do tend to lean towards West Virginia if they are playing but was smart enough to not let my alma mater make me think they could go all the way. It’s bad they lost in the first round – there is the real topic of this rant – but my brackets live on.
What annoys me – and more than I thought as I fell asleep thinking about this last night – is the “expanded” tournament. What was wrong with 64 teams? This is called March Madness, the Big Dance. This is not everyone gets to play time. This is not Dayton – although, from everything I have heard, Dayton does a great job with the play-in games, “first four” or whatever you want to call them – Delight. This is for just a select few. To be close to precise, approximately 20 percent of the Division 1 NCAA men’s teams get to play in this tournament.
First, conference champions get an automatic bid. So why do some conferences get a bid to a play-in game? If you are your conference’s champ, you should be in the Big Dance all the way without any additional hoops. Like I said, from all I know, Dayton does a great job with these games. The Dayton pep band even supported my daughter’s alma mater when they had a play-in game after winning their conference. I have nothing against Dayton. I do, though, have something against a conference champion having to play a game to get into the Big Dance.
And, this year, my bigger beef is the CBS commentators – come on JB, you have a Harvard education – calling the “first four” games – those play-in games – the first round. How do you have a first round where 60 teams get byes? That is not a round. That is not even a part of the tournament in my mind.
The NCAA has to go back to 64 teams. Will someone complain? Of course but like I said, this is not everyone plays. This is a tournament. Do your best during the regular season and you may get in. Don’t count on expanded numbers and funny terminology to make you a part.