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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stop the Madness (of crying over snubbed teams)

With little to say between the Selection Show and the actual NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, college hoop pundits are in their usual groove of bemoaning which teams didn’t get into the tourney. It’s one of the most ridiculous rites of spring in the sports world, with the dumbest so-called solution to add more teams to the field of 65 actually finding more backers.

Enough already. Drexel wasn’t snubbed. Neither was Syracuse or any other team. They weren’t good enough.

This isn’t college football and the BCS, in which the third-ranked team in the country doesn’t get to stake its claim to being the best by settling matters on the field. This is college basketball, and we’re talking about possibly the 66th best team in the country. Who gives a damn?

Don’t bother me with the logic that we’re actually debating the 35th best team, because 31 slots are filled with automatic bids from conference tournaments. All that proves is that these so-called snubbed teams couldn’t beat supposed lesser teams when it counted most. It’s an especially weak argument in the case of the “mid major” schools, like Drexel, that came up short against schools not even considered bubble teams. If anything, dump some of the automatic bids for small schools and let more of the big boys dance.

Of course, there’s no chance of that happening, because conference tournaments would mean less, and ultimately make less money. And anyone that doesn’t think that’s the point just isn’t paying attention. Money may even be why some schools are “snubbed” in the first place. I can’t imagine I’m the only guy that missed the fact that the NIT is now owned by the NCAA. Think maybe they’d like a few big name teams in the other tourney to attract viewers?

Regardless, the fact is expanding the field for the NCAAs would only make these debates more absurd. After all, adding the play-in game to allow a 65th team has clearly done a lot to quell debate, right? I’ve heard everything from adding three play-ins to add 3 teams that determine the 16th seeds to the extreme of doubling the field.

Gee, I can’t wait to hear the 129th team whine about not getting in.

I mean, why not just start the tournament in December and put every Division I team in? We can just half the field every weekend. (That was a joke, but I might actually watch college hoops before February if they did that.)

So, while the experts prattle on about who got snubbed – ensuring future interviews with local coaches, filling column inches, or using up air time – relax. Sure, everyone loves the Cinderella, but in the end this is the championship. The best teams should be playing the best teams.

If the 35th or the 66th best team feels snubbed, it really doesn’t matter.

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