Thursday, March 8, 2012

A March Madness Thrash

I mean really, truTV?
I'm not sure I understand conference basketball tournaments.  You play 30-some games during the regular season and you reward them by a good seed?  That doesn't make much sense to me.  Take the Big East Tournament.  DePaul won 12 games and only 3 in the Big East and still gets a chance to make the NCAA tournament by winning 5 games in 5 nights similar to #9 UConn last season (who eventually won the whole darn thing).  Now, granted, Kemba Walker and the gang was a great story but the whole get hot late and win 11 in a row isn't rewarding the best teams.  Jay Bilas said on ESPN earlier this week, and I agree, the whole tournament rewards mediocrity.

This guy knows what's up
68 teams is not a lot in comparison to how many schools there are total competing.  However, when you look at the small conferences who may have 1 or no teams ranked, who are you rewarding?  Take this year's Sun Belt tournament.  Middle Tennessee was 25-6 and 14-2 in the conference.  They got the #1 seed, lose and now Western Kentucky who finished 15-18 and 7-9 in the conference has punched their ticket.  We love the upsets but how in the world do you justify that WKU is one of the best 68 teams just based on a short 4 game stint?  It just seems silly to watch "analysts" argue about what teams need a conference win or 2 to pad their resume.

The Ivy League does it right with the regular season winner and this year it's Harvard.  You see, like their reputation, Ivy League schools still are smarter than the rest of us.  Now in the big conferences it's not really going to matter.  The top teams are still going to get in with maybe a few juggling amongst seeds.  Some schools like WVU and Northwestern need the tournament for a couple extra good wins.  It's dumb they even get a chance.  These schools didn't even win 20 games and are hovering around .500 in their conferences.  All regular season conference champions should get an invite because it's a long season and they should be rewarded.  Nothing like dominating your conference for nearly 4 months only to lose 1 game and not get in.  To me, that's a complete joke.  If there's a tie, use your tiebreaking scenarios and if necessary, play an extra game between the two.

Listen, I know why these conference tournaments exist.  Money and headlines.  Conferences and schools get more money and the fans get more feel good moments.  I studied sport administration in graduate school, I've been in the field.  I know why things happen.  We can argue it's about the student-athletes but we know it is not.  Finally, this is just me and my feelings because I'm a believer in amateurism and non-commercialism in collegiate sports.  In the big scheme of things, the schools that are really affected aren't going to go anywhere in the big dance.  The best teams usually win.  In all honestly, last year might have been the only fluke.  Butler made it the past couple of years but they earned that right.  Connecticut just got hot at the right time.
I love March Madness.  I love Selection Sunday.  I love doing brackets.  I love being wrong.  I love being right.  I love being upset.  I love being jacked.  This is a small blip in a system that definitely does it better than college football.  I wish it would change but if it doesn't, that's okay.  Enjoy the madness bottom dwellers even if my thrashing is for nothing but hopeful wishing.