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Does This Year’s NCAA Tourney Bracket Make You Feel Good About New Playoff Selection Process

committee 1So undefeated Wichita State is put in a bracket with 19 teams (thanks to three “First Four” games assigned to WSU’s region).  Louisville — a team most thought would battle for a #1 seed was handed a #4 seed instead.  They’re one of those 19 squads in the Shockers’ bracket.  Another team in WSU’s region is Tennessee.  Never-accepted Cuonzo Martin finds his team in a play-in game, sparking further outrage from Vol fans who feel the only coach for them is now at Auburn.  But a report by WNML-AM/FM in Knoxville yesterday revealed that the Volunteers were shifted into one of those four play-in games simply because the selection committee didn’t want to put Dayton on its home court for a First Four game.  Congrats, Tennessee, you drew the short straw.

Then there’s SMU.  Larry Brown’s Mustangs had been ranked in the top 25 right up until the final week of the regular season.  Bully for them, the selection committee didn’t put them in the tournament field at all.  Wisconsin-Green Bay — who many felt deserved a bid — didn’t get in either.  The same goes for Florida State, Georgetown, Minnesota, California, etc, etc.

Yes, another Selection Sunday has come and gone and complaints continue to pour in from North, South, East and West.  Bizarre bracketing, senseless seeding, teams shifted due to other schools’ locations.  It’s bad.  It always is.

Thank goodness, then, that the teams for the new College Football Playoff will be selected using the exact same model.

When the conference commissioners decided to do away with polls and computers in favor of a selection committee, we warned that come March everyone would be reminded of all the things they dislike about selection committees.  Here we are.  And with people complaining about the sheer randomness of the seeding process as well as the hard-to-figure out invitation process for the final four or five bubble teams, it should all be quite worrisome for college football fans.  If there’s this much debate over 68 teams, how hot will temperatures rise when we’re talking about a bracket that will include only four teams?

The good news is that the football panel will have a former Secretary of State, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, and a career basketball man to help pick the teams and set the matchups.  Yes.  That was sarcasm.

If anything, the 13-member football panel should expect to receive even more hate mail than the hoops group.  As we noted above, more teams will be getting turn-downs in football.  And American sports fans are also more passionate about college football.  (Check the TV ratings and recent TV contracts if you need proof.)  There will be some serious howling when a team ranked in the top four of all the (now meaningless) polls gets jumped by a fifth- or sixth-ranked team that won its league.  Top 25ish SMU not getting one of 36 at-large bids?  Try an SEC runner-up getting bounced by a lesser-ranked Big Ten champ.

Every March we’re treated to Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale and Seth Davis and Andy Katz telling us what the hoops committee got wrong.  Set your DVRs.  This December we’ll get another batch of analysts telling us everything the football committee botched in carrying out its duties.  So prepare yourself right now to be disappointed.  We see no way the College Football Playoff selection committee escapes controversy.  The basketball committee never does.

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New Tourney Broadcasts Will Take Some Getting Used To

It’ll be a headline-heavy morning today and we’ll jump write into that fray in just a second.  But first…

The new CBS/Turner coverage of the NCAA Tournament is going to take some getting used to.  After 30 years on CBS, not seeing the familiar graphics and hearing the familiar theme music was more than a little jarring on Tuesday.  Last night’s “First Four” games did not seem like actual NCAA tourney games… and it wasn’t just because they were played before the brackets really get under way. 

Looking at the screen, it was as if the ol’ television had clicked over to an NBA D-League game on Versus by mistake.

It wouldn’t have helped Turner’s branding, but this season’s expansion of coverage might have gone a little smoother for viewers had CBS/Turner kept CBS’ old music and look while adding Turner’s logos and personnel.

We’ll see how things go on Thursday when things tip off in full.  But for now, it’s unlikely this year’s tourney will feel like the NCAA Tournament at all.

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Jrlz talks Basketball part I: March Madness Changes 101

LSU
Content provided by And The Valley Shook.

68teambracket_medium

The bracket you see here is not quite accurate.  This will be explained below.

via sports.cbsimg.net

 

The biggest news in hoops this off-season is that the number of teams in the tournament has been increased from 65 to 68.

The new NCAA tournament is made up of 31 automatic bids and 37 at-large berths.

The automatic qualifiers are the winners of each of the 30 conference tournaments plus the Ivy League’s regular season conference champion.  The at-large berths are awarded to the teams the NCAA selection committee deems the best 37 of the remaining field.

Now, all these teams are ranked, roughly, from first to 68.  The last dozen of these teams are always automatic qualifiers from weak conferences like the Big South, the Northeast, etc.  Back when there was 65 teams, the bottom two of these teams, 64 and 65, got their own matchup, and the winner would face a #1 seed team.  That was the “play-in game”.  

This year, there will be four play-in games (“the First Four”, which will be played at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio), and not all of these games are the same.

Two of these play-in games will be played between the last four automatic qualifiers, teams 65 through 68.  The winners of these two games will face a #1 seed team, a set-up similar to the play-in game that we’ve known for many years.

The other two “first four” games?  That’s where things get interesting.  You know how they always talk about the “last four teams in” when March nears?  They are referring to the last four teams to receive at-large berths.  These teams usually get inserted as #13 or #14 seeds.  Now, these “last four in” get their own two play-in games, but the winners of these two games will not face a #1 seeded team, but rather, a #3 or #4 seed team, and where these two play-in games will be placed on the bracket will be determined by the selection committee when the time comes.

So the bracket pictured above isn’t exactly accurate.  Two of the play-in winners will indeed face a #1 seed, but the other two play-in winners will face a #3 or #4 seed.  The actual bracket we will see come March will be a little odder looking than you’re used to, but the two at-large “First Four” games promise to deliver a couple of intriguing matchups that will get everybody warmed up for Madness.

These changes have a ripple effect on the rest of the tournament.  The fields of 64 and 32, previously referred to as the first round and the second round respectively, will now be called the second round and the third round.  So now you have:

First Four (last four automatic bids, last four at-large berths)

Second Round (field of 64)

Third Round (field of 32)

Sweet Sixteen

Elite Eight

Final Four (at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas)

 

So, do you like the change?  If you were Czar of the NCAA, how would you lay out college basketball’s postseason?

Also, “Drive for 65″ is obsolete.  ”Skate for 68″?  Any other suggestions?


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