The NCAA is Stupid
And so is Shaun Rogers
Originally Aired: Friday, April 2, 2010. This is a part of the 93-Second Sports Shot series. 93-Second Sports Shots air weekday evenings at 6pm.
So apparently the NCAA is about to expand the Men's Basketball Tournament from 64 to 96 teams. The reform is all set to pass and would take effect already next year. That is a horrible idea, and it should be especially concerning to fans of Cornell hoops. Let me tell you why.
The way the new tournament is going to be set up is by giving the top 32 teams a bye in the first round. These 32 teams will predominantly be power schools from BCS conferences. Getting a bye in the first round is just another extra boost to these schools that already enjoy tremendous inherent recruiting and financial advantages over the rest of the field.
Beyond that, the teams that fall below the threshold of the top 32 will have to face off against each other. The teams that will fall in this category are going to be the mid majors, who basically occupy the 8-16 seeds in the regionals these days—think Cornell or Northern Iowa. and then 32 more teams. Those last 32 teams will be mostly high major teams that didn't make the cut before. This is where the change really starts to show its ugly side—high majors that aren't good enough to make the current field of 64 are generally the dullest, most generic teams to watch. They tend to be athletic but under skilled, and their teamwork is usually lacking. These are teams that underachieve relative to the resources they have, and they simply do not deserve to be featured on the national stage.
The real joy of the tournament for most fans is the opportunity to see feisty, enterprising teams like Cornell, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Butler, and the like take it to national powerhouses like Georgetown, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Syracuse. Cinderella stories make March Madness the most exciting sporting event in American sports. Never has this been clearer than after this year's tourney, which saw more upsets than ever. People get excited about match-ups like Cornell-Kentucky. The contrasts between the schools, the feel good story, the once in a lifetime feel make such a game special. When you go to 96 teams, and teams like Kentucky end up playing the Arizona States or Florida States of the world, nobody but fans of those teams will care.
The proposed reform will make the tournament less fun and less captivating. But it will make it safer and more profitable for BCS schools. And I guess in this decision-making process, that's all that really matters...
On an unrelated note, are pro athletes trying to outdo each other for who can get in trouble with the law for dumber things? Yesterday I heard that Shaun Rogers was arrested in an airport trying to bring a loaded gun onto an airplane. Wow. Gilbert Arenas, Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, have no worries. You are no longer in contention for the title of “World's Dumbest Athlete.”