Sunday, March 19, 2006

march madness and march bitterness

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams was bitching and moaning about the fact that the NCAA selection committee ONLY gave 26 out of 34 at-large slots to the six power conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, Big East, SEC), passing up programs like Cincinnati and Maryland that had only fair seasons in favor of no-account minor conference at-large patsies like Wichita (beat Tennessee) and George Mason (beat Michigan State) and Bradley (beat Kansas). Williams made the ultimate non sequiteur in his passionate defense of the merits of picking the #9 team in the bloated Big East over the Colonial Athletic or Missouri Valley #2 or #3 teams, saying "The problem is, coaches in the major conferences get fired for not making the tournament."

Oh boo hoo, that's just ridiculous. I didn't realize the NCAA tournament was supposed to be some sort of social security arrangement for overpaid basketball coaches at the big schools. And besides, don't the mid-major coaches (oh, and players, sometimes in big-name college basketball where the sportscasters make it sound like Mike K or Roy Williams are on the court making all the shots, we forget about the players) also deserve a shot at the limelight -- and for the coaches, a chance to get fat contract with a desperate power conference program who just fired their guy for finishing 15-14?

College basketball is already sufficiently weighted in favor of the big schools, with TV exposure and the rest of it. Give strong mid-majors like George Mason and Wichita that stumble in their conference tournament a chance. And for that matter, Hofstra deserved a slot in the NCAAs more than Seton Hall.

But in one way I could agree to something that would let Williams have a guaranteed shot at the tournament every year -- open it to ALL division one schools, the way states run their high school tournaments. You could seed the top 30 or so schools and let the other 290 or so play to get to the final 64, thrown together at random (maybe by region to cut down on travel a bit). It would extend the tournament by a week, let CBS or whoever show a lot more games regionally, and give everybody a long shot at a little glory.

Maryland did get a consolation prize this year for their mediocre 19-11 regular season -- a home game against mid-major Manhattan. And they lost. Maybe MANHATTAN deserved the NCAA bid more than Maryland.

2 Comments:

Anonymous BearcatPoontang said...

I agree with what you said, but Cincy did get a bit slighted more than Maryland - #5 strength of schedule and in the toughest conference... BUT... if you're only 8-8 in the conference of 16 teams and 8 have already been picked - then you're a fence team.

2:36 PM  
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11:22 AM  

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