Friday, February 5, 2010

Will the No Clue At All Listen For Once?

As you all probably know by now, the rumbling throughout the internet the last few days is the rumor that the NCAA, aka the No Clue At All, Tournament expansion to 96 teams is a "done deal". And thankfully, people are rising up with their comments.

  • Kyle Whelliston eloquently stated it best on the Mid Majority on Tuesday. "Every wild card, extra round of eliminators, committee decision, and at-large serves to cheapen the accomplishment of "getting in," lowers the toll. A 96-team bracket would be the final straw for Our Game, especially if it's in the name of money."
  • Jerry Beach on the always entertaining Defiantly Dutch gives contrary evidence to the claim that expanding to 96 teams would help mid majors. "I wouldn’t expect the ratio of at-large bids awarded to true mid-majors to increase much at all in a 96-team field. Three true mid-majors (Xavier, Dayton and Butler) received invites last year, a mere nine percent of the at-large field. That translates to about six invites in a 96-team tournament with 65 at-large bids."
  • Joe Lunardi, has repeatedly stated "There is no good basketball reason to expand the current 64/65-team field." (if you are a member of ESPN insider,click here for the article)
  • And the story that re-started it all, Sports By Brooks, noted the following "If they’re going to go to 96 teams, why not just make the whole season a double elimination tournament?And if the NCAA is going to drag out the hoops tournament even more, causing players to miss more class, how can it continue to justify not having a college football playoff? Someone needs to check the water in Indianapolis. Might wanna consider a boil warning."
Well, I am not surprised and if you are one of the ten people that read this site religiously, you know this too. When the story first hit in December of last year, I wrote a followup about this all two days later here.

Now as my December article states, I am not a "purist". The "purists" wanted to keep the tournament to 48, hell 32 teams. I am old enough to remember those days. I can say over time that there was more than enough good teams back then with the NCAA Tournament and the NIT to be able to expand it to 64 teams. And history has shown that. And as I also noted in my December article, if you are going to expand it, expand it to 68 teams. My reason was and still is simple;

"'s usually only a handful of teams, say two or three that truly get wrongly snubbed out of a NCAA bid. Last season, you could seriously make a case for Saint Mary's, San Diego State and Creighton not making the tournament. It's been like that the last four seasons by my count...This way you can get those teams into the play-in round and we can then see which team truly deserved to be in the dance."
I know that Joe Lunardi in the aforementioned ESPN insider article agrees with this same idea. Think about it. On Selection Sunday, we don't talk about 32 teams getting snubbed. It's the not even a handful of teams, unfortunately often mid majors, that all the pundits, experts and even a blogger with a dream like me rail about, the wronged team(s). Let there be a play in round for eight teams and the four winners are each the last at large seed in each region. It ends the bubble talk once and for all and you get an extra day of NCAA tournament basketball.

But expanding it to 96 teams would simply be ruining the NCAA Tournament and here are the reasons why.

1) Basically you are taking the NIT and rolling it into the NCAA Tournament. Based on last year's NIT, there are nowhere near 96 worthy teams to make the NCAA Tourmanent. You had ten teams that had less than 20 wins in the NIT, with half of those teams only four games or less above .500 at the start of the NIT ( Wash. St 17-15, Northwestern 17-13, Georgetown 16-14, Virginia Tech 18-14, and Notre Dame 18-14). Think about it, do you really want to see a team that's two games above .500, such as Washington State or Georgetown from last season in the NCAA tournament? Are those teams really "worthy" of a ticket to the dance.

2) As I stated in my December article and as Lunardi writes in his insider article, adding a first round bye for the top 32 teams creates a dangerous dynamic. As I noted "32 teams would have already played and won one game, which to me is an unfair advantage. That makes it awfully unfair for the 32 teams that got a bye." Lunardi has stated "No. 1 seeds in the 64/65-team era have never lost a first-round game. That would surely change if they were faced with quality at-large opponents instead of low major qualifiers. And that's exacerbated by the fact that said opponent will have just posted a huge postseason victory."

3) Based on number two, the likelihood is that you may have more upsets in that second round of 64, but you will be watering down the product. In other words, you have the potential of very good teams being eliminated immediately. Now some of you would say, "Well isn't this what we want, more excitement?! And if you're a really good team, aka a number one seed, shouldn't you beat anybody, including a team that's already won a game".

The problem is by creating this extra round, you have now put a significant number teams on an uneven playing field. Yes, when there were 48 teams, you had an extra round, but only 16 teams were affected. Now you are doubling that effect, to 32 teams, increasing the likelihood that a good team will be knocked out. Very simply put, from a momentum standpoint, when a good team that has already won a game two days earlier faces another good team that hasn't played a game yet, the team that has already played has the advantage.

And for those of you who say that can't happen, here's a link to the 1980 NCAA Tournament bracket. From 1980 to 1982, forty Eight teams made the tournament (then in 1983 and 1984 it was 52 and 53 teams respectively). Sixteen teams received first round byes. In 1980, in the second round, eight of those first round bye teams lost the second round game. Fifty Percent. FIFTY PERCENT. And it was worse in 1981, it was nine out of the sixteen first round bye teams lost in the second round. In 1982 and 1983, there were only three first round bye teams that lost in the second round. In 1984, it was six out of sixteen.

It's nice to see several upsets in a first round or even a second round of the NCAA Tournament. But those are few and far between. But do you really want to start seeing say half of the teams upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament on a consistent basis? Don't you think it starts to seriously weaken the term "upset" after a while? I do.

So I have given you three reasons why not to expand the tournament. So why is the No Clue At All doing this? Well, we all know why from Whelliston's article - the link to the Division I Cabinet meeting from September of last year. In the cabinet meeting notes, it states "Consider bracket expansion for men’s basketball (to generate more money)." Yup, greed.. pure and simple greed.

By expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams, basically you are doing the following - Take a delicious pint of Guinness, put it into a 32 ounce cup and pour 16 ounces of water into it. Not even Coors Light would taste that bad. But that's what the NCAA is trying to sell you with 96 teams. Voice your opinion and don't for a second buy it.

No comments:

Post a Comment