Alright, let's just keep this going, right here, on this fancy blog. After all, 'tis the purpose....
Deadspin is in the ring, and the url couldn't make it any more clear. Again, as usual, any and all analysis is tainted with the "DON'T CHANGE A THING IT IS SO GREAT AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH" angle. As though the tournament is SOOOO perfect that it could never be altered. I guess that's the question... is it possible to make something more perfect?
Let's go ahead and go through those complaints:
"The dirty secret of the 64-team tournament is that it is already too big. No seed lower (lower meaning weaker) than an eight has ever won it."
Oh god, no, I'm sorry, but no. That's not truth. If we argue on the premise of "no team lower than an 8 seed has ever won it", then we must accept the principle that THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS WHO WINS IT. That is just the antithesis of what the tournament is all about, in my mind. I don't care who eventually wins. Yes, the final four is exciting. But for me, and doubtlessly for many others, it's all about Coppin State, Pepperdine, G. Mason, UNI, etc. These runs by underdogs are what makes the tournament awesome, I'm sorry, I'll never be convinced otherwise. Sure, eventually Kansas or Kentucky or Uconn outlasts the competition and is crowned champion. So how exactly does that change with the new system?
Moreover, I'd like to make the argument that the tournament is WAY more fun once half of the "top teams" are eliminated. Think of it... once Kansas, Syracuse and Kentucky were out in this year's tournament, didn't it really feel like it had "opened up"? Like, seriously, Butler or Michigan State could win the whole fucking thing. MICHIGAN STATE? What were the pre-tournament odds on that one, Dickfer? 1 in a Brazilian? So come on, more competition just means more 1 seeds get shat on... regardless if a #13 never wins (and they never SHOULD, it's the fucking tournament, remember?) I think the level of competition doesn't get impacted by adding more teams.
"And let's face it, those top eight teams probably won't lose their second game either, because we've just given these teams that are already favored more rest, a chance to scout their future opponent live in a must-win game, two extra days of preparation for that opponent, and best of all ... only two days for the opponent to prepare for them"
All is fair come tournament time. So Duke can sit back comfortably and watch Alabama play Tulsa for their "play-in game". But they can't run a practice preparing for one or the other until the game is over. Yep, they get 2 days of rest. But after Tulsa dispatches Alabama easily, (way more easily than Duke thought) then both teams start preparing.
If we accept the notion of "THE TOP SEED GETS 2 EXTRA DAYS OF REST AND THEREFORE WILL HAVE AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE" then why try their hardest in the conference tournament? Does that not ALREADY happen? You think Kentucky gave an ass about the SEC tournament? They were going in as a 1 seed regardless. They could've tanked a game early just to get more rest. Rest and time between games really doesn't matter when it comes to the tourney. Yes, it may prevent a 21 seed from winning it all. BUT THESE TEAMS WEREN'T GOING TO WIN IT ALL ANYWAY. Can they still beat a 1 seed? Sure, why not? It's all luck and good coaching. None of that changes.
Shit, I have SO much more to say, but I'll let others take it away. I have to go for a swim.
The tournament operates like all other playoffs in that, to some degree, the teams that are hot at the right time can go on runs. Teams that are truly elite have to learn to balance their effort as the season progresses. Can they afford to take their foot off the gas pedal? Once a team from a big conference clinches their seed, they can and should rest a little bit. The teams that will be fighting for position, and inclusion, in the tournament are going to be going all out, just like always.
See the great equalizer is the RPI. It's so great that a team like Butler can draw a 5 seed. If the program is truly top-notch, they can schedule whoever they want for non-conference, and provided they handle their conference, they will be rewarded. In football, the Gophers will never be taken seriously because they schedule South Dakota as a non-conference and that is laughed at. But in basketball, you have so many games that you can have both your tune-up, Georgia State games, AND your "maybe we'll catch Louisville when they're tired" games. It all adds up to RPI at the end of the season, and anyone can get in with the right amount.
Then, of course, we come back to the money. Again, failed arguments all around. Oh, the NCAA is doing this only for money? IS THIS RUSSIA???? Since when did we start fighting against the notion of sports trying to make money off of themselves? I understand petty gripes about Spiderman 2 sponsoring the bases in MLB, or BCS sponsorship and blah blah blah. But why are we begrudging the NCAA for trying to get more money and more television coverage out of their product? If we don't like the product, we won't watch. If we all decide that this system sucks, and no one tunes in for the early rounds, they will be forced to deal with that and change it in the future. I don't get these arguments. "HOW DARE THE NCAA TRY TO LOCK IN A HUGE TV CONTRACT TO SHOW THEIR INCREDIBLY POPULAR PRODUCT???"