NCAABB, Akron Zips

64 Teams is Madness!

3/20/09 in NCAABB   |   Billy_D   |   369 respect

On Thursday, March 19, I went to the opening round NCAA tournament games in Portland, Oregon. I got to see the #5 vs. #12 and #4 vs. #13 games from two different regions. The overwhelming conclusion that I came away with was that these this should be a 16 team tournament.

The #5 seeds - Illinois and Purdue - have no shot at winning this thing. Obviously Illinois proved that by losing to Western Kentucky. The #4's, Washington and Gonzaga, have a snowball's chance, but no better. Either of them will have to go on an improbable "get every break" type of run to finish in the top 8, let alone 2. These are the teams that should be vying for a secondary, NIT-like, title.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching four consecutive basketball games, with blessings from (and sitting next to) my spouse, but ultimately, I wasn't watching championship basketball. Like the football bowl system where 34 teams end their season with a loss, it seems fun until you realize that 64 of the top 65 teams in the country (theoretically) end their seasons with a loss. For many, that is not a hardship. They make a decent showing, go a couple of rounds before bowing out, and move on. But for a number of mid-majors - including the teams I saw: Northern Iowa, Mississippi State, or Akron  - one and done could be counter-productive and actually hurt recruiting. Even Western Kentucky's win over Illinois will ring somewhat hollow when they come crashing to earth (and they will) when the slipper gets too tight and they don't get the breaks and the shots don't fall and they go back to Bowling Green with a huge dose of reality - good, not great. These are the teams who deserve a tournament where they have a shot. Let Western Kentucky play, and beat, the Illinois of the world. We know what will happen if they were to run into UConn, Pitt, UNC, etc.
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