Adding three play-in games to the NCAA Basketball Tournament was really stupid.
I'm sorry. I meant to say the new first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Apparently, league officials don't like the term "play-in game" because it makes it sound like the teams competing in them are not really in the tournament. But let's be honest, if a team is playing to make the 64-field tournament we all know and love, they probably don't deserve to be there and are wasting our time.
What was the point of expanding the tournament from 64 teams? Simple. Money. Expansion allowed the NCAA to negotiate more lucrative television contracts. They didn't do it because they thought more teams deserved a chance at the National Championship or to raise the level of competition.
You would think the NCAA would at least come up with a logical setup. Instead, we have teams competing for the No. 12 seed in one region and the No. 11 seed in another region.
How does that work? Teams that didn't deserve to be one of the top 64 teams will get higher seeds than other teams that made the 64-team field without play-in games. I can imagine there are some pretty upset 12, 13 and 14 seeds. And they have every right to be upset. Why should they have to play higher seeded teams than two teams that would not have made the tournament if it was still just 64 teams?
By the way, I know it was 65. I never really counted the play-in game before either. At least I'm consistent.
The tournament itself will still be great. It always is. But the NCAA needs to stop making stupid changes.
I'm not saying don't ever change March Madness. There are always ways to make things better. Let's make the selection process more transparent so fans know exactly why UAB had an opportunity to dance while Virginia Tech was at home. Just telling us that one team didn't get enough votes isn't enough. Why didn't they get enough votes? Who didn't vote for them, but did vote for another team in question?
Expansion could even be a good change if it's done right. Make all the winners 16 seeds. It might make for some unusually challenging games for No. 1 seeds, but wouldn't that be better for the fans than watching the one-sided affairs these games usually produce?
The tournament wasn't perfect before, but the changes this year are lame.
Speaking of the tournament, there is still time to register a team in the SDEE March Madness Challenge. Click the link here and join a private group. The group ID is 132586 and the password is sdee2011. Winner gets $10 if we get 20 people!
Dropkick Murphys - Finnegan's Wake