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How Would The Tourney Look If We Just BCS’d It

When you have eight hours of programming to fill, the best way to do it is to get about 15 people, put ‘em in a room, and let ‘em bicker over how the NCAA selection committee screwed up.

Last year it was Jay Bilas enraged over VCU’s invite to the Big Dance.  (The fact that the Rams went on to reach the Final Four did nothing to change Bilas’ opinion of their selection and seed, by the way.)

This year it was the CBS crew mystified as to how Iona could grab an at-large bid over Drexel.  Iona over Drexel?  Come on!

If you’re sharp enough to know the following things, you don’t get too hung up on all this:


1.  The networks are trying to put anything NCAA-related on the screen on Selection Sunday because it draws eyeballs.

2.  The whole selection process is highly subjective and therefore nits can always picked.

3.  Teams that are riding that “can we get in?” bubble have failed throughout the regular season to put together a body of work that guarantees them a bid.  If a school leaves room for debate, that school and its fans shouldn’t complain when it’s left out of the party.

4.  Don’t we hate the BCS process, too?


And that’s the rub for this writer.  With talk of a revamped college football postseason in the news of late, many have said it’s time to dump the blasted computers and pollsters and formulas and instead bring in a blue ribbon panel of football folks to select the teams who’ll go playoffing.  “You need to have a selection committee like basketball.”

But year after year after year people yelp about the job of basketball’s selection committee.  Why is one better than the other?  They’re both subjective — whose computer rankings do you use, what formula does their system use, who do you put on your selection panel, what biases do they have?

Just look at the NIT and NCAA selection committees.  The NCAA is made up mainly of athletic directors and conference muckety-mucks.  The NIT’s is made up of ex-coaches.  They’re both given the exact same data and given the exact same instructions.

Yet one group pays little attention to who gets hot at season’s end while the other puts a lot of weight on that category.

The point?  There will always be complaining.  (Especially since we’ve become a nation of anonymous online critics, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)  Even if ESPN’s Bilas were declared Grand Poobah High Exalted of Tournament Selections, there would be crying and weeping and wailing from North to South and from East to West over who the man handpicked for inclusion in the Big Dance.

Remember this the next time you hear someone yapping about creating a selection committee for football.  Apparently people hate the committee in March but by January of the following year they’ve forgotten how much they griped 10 months prior.

So instead of hiring a panel to pick a four-team football playoff poll, why not go the other way and just BCS the NCAA Tournament?  Turn the thing over to the computers and get out of the way.  When it comes to bracketing the teams selected, just use a straight S-curve and forget worrying about separating conference mates and handing out homecourt advantages.

This year — using the numbers provided by RealTimeRPI.com as of 10:30am ET — we’ve put together a BCS’d version of the bracket.  On a standard bracket the first-round seeds should equal 17 (1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, etc).  In a top-to-bottom S-curve bracket, each bracket would equal 65 (1 vs 64, 2 vs 63, 3 vs 62, etc).  That’s what you’ve got below.  We list two numbers beside each team… their seed within their region and their overall seed based on RPI and nothing more. 

Oh yeah, to heck with the automatic conference tourney bids, too.  Why let a lucky weekend muck up a true bracket?


EAST REGION (BOSTON)

1  Syracuse (1 overall)
16  N. Mexico State / Davidson (64)

8  New Mexico (32)
9  Iowa State (33)


5  UNLV (17)
12  Oral Roberts (48)

4  Memphis (16)
13  Kansas State (49


6  San Diego State (24)
11  Xavier (41)

3  Marquette (9)
14  Middle Tenn. State (56)


7  Creighton (25)
10  Iona (40)

2  Baylor (8)
15  West Virginia (57)


MIDWEST REGION (ST. LOUIS)

1  N. Carolina (4 overall)
16  Miami (Fla) / St. Joseph’s (61)

8  Florida (29)
9  California (36)


5  Indiana (20)
12  BYU (45)

4  Michigan (13)
13  S. Floirda (52)


6  Southern Miss (21)
11  Marshall (44)

3  Wichita State (12)
14  Virginia (53)


7  St. Mary’s (28)
10  Notre Dame (37)

2  Duke (5)
15  Colorado (60)


SOUTH REGION (ATLANTA)

1  Kentucky (2 overall)
16  Northwestern / Nevada (63)

8  UConn (31)
9  Harvard (34)


5  Vanderbilt (18)
12  Purdue (47)

4  Georgetown (15)
13  NC State (50)


6  Wisconsin (23)
11  S. Dakota State (42)

3  Missouri (10)
14  Akron (55)


7  Gonzaga (26)
10  Long Beach State (39)

2  Ohio State (7)
15  Belmont (58)


WEST REGION (PHOENIX)

1  Michigan State (3 overall)
16  Oregon / Seton Hall (62)

8  St. Louis (30)
9  Alabama (35)


5  Temple (19)
12  Ohio (46)

4  Louisville (14)
13  Texas (51)


6  Murray State (22)
11  Cincinnati (43)

3  Florida State (11)
14  UCF (54)


7  Colorado State (27)
10  VCU (38)

2  Kansas (6)
15  Ole Miss (59)


Now, is that better than what we got from a blue ribbon panel?  Is it worse?  Better yet, would you still have arguments and complaints about such a computer-centric system?

Stop.  I already know that answer to that.  And that’s the point.  There is no perfect system for selection playoff teams be it in basketball or football.

Until the NCAA breaks off into conferences of equal numbers that play balanced schedules like the pro leagues — and that’s not going to happen anytime soon — subjectivity will remain a big, big party of the selection process.

Best just get used to it.  In both major NCAA sports.

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