I have long since held the idea that the NCAA Tournament is a flawed way of determining a national champion. Before you call me crazy, hear me out.
I love upsets (except when they happen to MSU) in the tourney, but is one 40 minute game really enough to determine which team should advance to the next round? Can you say the best team will win in each round, or will the team who happens to get hot in that particular game win? After a team has played 30+ games in the regular season, is it really fair to judge them all on one quick game?
You and I both know the answer to those questions. The best team really only wins 60-70% of the time. We had a 3, 4, 8 and 11 seed make the Final Four last year. Was VCU really one of the top 4 teams in the country? Would you say that is a good representation of the best teams in the country? UConn was a deserving champ, but shouldn't they have had to beat some of the other great teams of 2011?
Here is what I would like to see - each round be best 2 out of 3.
Yeah, I'm nuts. Who would complain about March Madness? Well, I'm not really complaining so much as I am suggesting that people recognize that the best teams don't always win in the big dance. I'm suggesting that an early exit or long run in the tournament isn't really the best indication of how good your team ultimately was. It's a flawed tournament; a fun one, but flawed.
The NBA is best 4 of 7 in each round of the playoffs. The reason is because the teams adjust to one another after each game. It may take the Mavericks two games to realize what they need to do to score on the Lakers for example; but after they do, they may beat them four in a row. The best team always wins. I don't think that is the way to go for college, but 2 of 3 would be a better way than do or die.
Here's how I would do it: 64 teams, all neutral site games. At first I thought the idea of a home and home and neutral site would be amazing for college basketball, but that is not logistical. Play Game 1 on a Friday, Game 2 on Saturday, and Game 3 if necessary on Sunday. Then do the next round the following weekend. It would take six weeks.
That's a long time you say. Well, does anyone out there love the regular season of college basketball? I'm saying double the part of the season which is by far the most enjoyable, and decrease the boring regular season. All we'd have to do is move the start of conference play to mid-December and start the NCAA Tournament in mid-late February. We'd already be into Round 2 today!
And here's what it would do: 1. allow for a mulligan. Not two mulligans, just one. And you'd still get those amazing upsets. Say for example a 14 seed was going to upset a 3 seed. Well, they still do in Game 1. Now the 3 seed still has a chance to come back and win the next two games. They are the better team, and it's likely they will, but they might not. I just don't think a team who was 24-5 during the year should exit early because southwest San Francisco state got hot and made 12 of 14 from behind the arc.
2. You'd get better match-ups. Those first two days of the tournament are probably the best days of the sporting year, I agree. But then you get to round 2 and you realize you've got southwest San Francisco state playing Billy's cow college for the right to go to the Sweet 16. Snooze. Of course, it's still amazing when you get that Cinderella who slays the dragon in round 1 and round 2. But then you get to the Sweet 16 and you thought you'd see Michigan State vs. Kentucky but now your left with North Dakota Academy facing a Kentucy team who has prepared for them all week, result: 80-45.
3. The best teams make the biggest games. If Kansas is going to win it all, I'd rather them play four or five top 25 teams on the way to the national championship instead of two. I'd like to see a Sweet 16 and Elite 8, a Final Four filled with compelling matchups...none of those blowouts when Cinderella losses its slipper. How big of a let down was Bulter vs. VCU in the Final Four? Sure, it was nice rooting for Butler both years (and I'll say they are legit no doubt), but that game left little to get excited about.
Anyway, that is my two cents about a topic probably no one other than me would bring up. March Madness will be fun again, but I won't take too much stock in Sweet 16s or teams getting upset in the first weekend.