One week from now, the majority of us will be huddled around televisions somewhere in our places of work or we’ll be hiding in an office or cubicle watching someone’s computer as the second day of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament begins.
Please don’t try and tell me that “it already began with the play-in games.” Those games are a joke and you know it as well as I do. The real fun begins a week from yesterday when the field of 64 actually starts playing.
It’s very hard to argue with what the NCAA has created in terms of the tournament. It makes hundreds of millions of dollars for everyone from the member schools to the taverns on street corners throughout America. Even with all of the perfection it has I still have a few suggestions that can make it even better at least in my opinion.
1. The home-court advantages teams get needs to stop. I understand the argument that teams who enter as one or two seeds deserve to be close to home but let’s stop using that as the major reason why when teams are in that position they rarely have to travel far. The real reason is money and more precisely, money from tickets.
Take Kentucky for example. They’ll enter the tourney as a number one seed regardless of what happens in the SEC Tournament. They will also likely be sent to the second/third round site in Louisville meaning they won’t even have to leave the state. Should they advance, they’ll head to the regional in Cleveland. While that’s out of state, it’s less than a day’s drive for Wildcats’ fans.
Of course if they advance to the Final Four, they’ll play in Indianapolis which is even closer than Cleveland. I guess I can understand doing this for top seeds but that’s where it should end.
2. I say this every year yet it falls on deaf ears but the NCAA needs to tell the media folks to get lost. The number of media credentials issued is absurd in and of itself but then they give the media row after row of tables on each side of the court. What makes college basketball great is the interaction of the fans and the sheer excitement they bring to the environment.
Put the media up higher in the arena and let the fans get back down near the floor where they can be a part of the game as they are throughout the regular season. Forcing the competing teams’ fans thirty yards behind each basket is ridiculous.
3. Follow Jay Bilas’ lead. There’s a reason Bilas is one of the most intelligent and forward thinking analysts in college basketball today. He recently advocated that the selection committee meet prior to Selection Sunday and rank the teams 1-68. Regardless of what happens in their conference tournament, their overall seed doesn’t change because of the significance of the regular season.
As automatic bids are filled, at-large teams are dropped from the list. This would keep teams who have great regular seasons from being punished by early exits in their respective conference tournaments as well. Traditionally, the committee puts too much emphasis on top teams getting beat early in conference tournaments and this would ensure more balance.
When the tournament is already pretty good it’s hard to be too critical but I think even the most perfect things can sometimes use changes.