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Travis' Take: How to Improve the NCAA Tournament
By TRAVIS MacKENZIE, MOP Squad Sports Staff Writer
Mar 12, 2005 - 9:38:00 PM

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Welcome to a topic I donít know much about: NCAA basketball.  One thing I do know is that their championship tournament is one of the great ideas of sport, all-time.  We need more tournaments like this.  Filling out my bracket annually is a blast.  Iíll be starting mine on Monday just like everybody else.  Somethingís not right with it though.  Itís too spaced out, thereís all of the controversy about bubble teams getting left out, and the top 65 definitely donít make the field, due to the conference champs rule.  Therefore, here are my seven ways to fix the NCAA Tournament.


1. Allow all 327 teams in.  Most people think this is idiotic.  Most people think this just demolishes the idea of the regular season.  I think this helps the NCAA.  Fans love massive upsets, theyíll get massive upsets.  Fans gain the ability of learning about every team through this process.  This also would help the NCAA recruit more players.  Less would skip for the NBA if they knew they could play in this tournament for sure.  Carmelo Anthony took his shot, got a title, and improved his draft position because of this tournament.  It also encourages more players to go after basketball, just to play in this tournament.  TV money explodes as well, as youíll have to get all sorts of networks involved.  Lastly, it increases the probability of a 327 man dunk contest the day after the finals.


2. Teams play 2 out of 3 days.  This accelerates the pace of the tournament ridiculously.  A team plays a day game on Thursday, a night game on Friday, gets Saturday off, plays another day game on Sunday, and so on.  The tournament stays approximately the same length, with much shorter layover periods.


3. No Regions.  Teams are seeded 1-327, best to worst.  Imagine Andy Katz and Joe Lunardi writing exhausting daily columns for weeks leading up to the tournament deciding whether Duquesne or Idaho should crack the top 300.  With this, the bottom 142 teams are the only teams playing in the first round, creating an even field of 256.


4. Top seed always plays bottom seed.  Always.  No brackets.  This could make virtually everybodyís picks different.  It also emphasizes seeding, emphasizes the regular season.  Plus, it goes NHL style, and that leagueís got the best playoff system by far.


5. Home court advantage.  The same regular season philosophy.  No locations are set.  The better seeded team gets the game in their home arena.  It gives more fans the chance to see their team play for the title.  To be honest, Iíve never been a fan of set locations.  If a team does well, they deserve to play in their home yard.


6. Conference tourneys determine order of seeding in national tournament.  Thereís no way this system works without conference tournaments.  The conference champ is automatically seeded higher than anybody in their conference in the national tournament.  The team they beat in the finals gets exclusive #2 rights.  Semi-final losers have to depend on regular season records (if those are tied, go with RPI, and then SOS).  And it keeps going down.  It gives those teams who beat the Illinoisí of the world in the conference tourney a huge boost, as a one or two loss team canít be dropped down very far.  Adds all sorts of importance to the conference tourneys, and makes or breaks tonnes of national chances.


7. Selection committee comprised of top 100 tenured media members, plus head coaches of each conference champ.  I donít want NCAA officials creating the best matchups for t.v. ratings, I want media members voting on seeding.  These guys are experts at catching stories that fall under the cracks.  We could get some great articles about the process.  As for the head coaches, another definite conference tourney advantage, and something that puts loads of drama into determining the number one.


Enjoy selection Sunday everybody.  Feel free to give me your comments on the MOP Squad fan forum, or in the comments box on Travis Time.  I guarantee a reply.

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