Leveling Out The “Madness” In The NCAA
By Cheval John
It’s that time of year again as tonight begins March Madness.
This year’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, which consists of 68 teams, will be very intriguing because of the fact that the University of Kentucky is trying to become the first undefeated team to win the national championship since 1976 when the University of Indiana won the championship undefeated.
Though the focus will be whether they will finish undefeated or suffer a loss at the worst time that can derail their hopes of a great season, I want to chat about how as always how this whole system works.
You might have noticed in my last blog post, “Choose Yourself In Order To Earn Attention For Your Talent,” I shared how the only way for teams from mid-majors and lesser known schools to gain the same exposure as the big named schools is if they are in the NCAA tourmanent.
The sad thing is that many schools who have mediocre records are in the tournament because they are in the top conferences (SEC, Big 12, Big 10, ACC, Pac 12) and they are perceived to have played a tougher schedule than the schools who are in lesser known conferences.
So if a school in a lesser known conference had a great season, won the regular season title and then lost in the tournament, they don’t have a chance to make the tournament.
I think that in any professional sports like the NBA, anyone can make the playoffs if they had a great record and are in the top 8 of their conference.
Except for the NCAA.
If you are not in the big five conference, possibly a few mid-majors or a school like Gonzaga who have made 16 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and have given the chance for the West Coast Conference to have other at-large bid teams, then you have no shot.
Merit does not rule in most NCAA sports like football, basketball and baseball.
I suspect that the name of the game for these tournaments is money.
Of course the big name schools like the University of Texas, Notre Dame, etc. has a large fan and alumni base.
So if they are many big name schools in the tournament, that gives the NCAA a better chance to make more money because it has a bigger draw to television viewers.
It is a big reason why they are in the midst of a 14 year, near 11 billion deal with CBS/Turner Broadcasting to showcase the men’s basketball tournament.
That means the NCAA has to put out a great showcase of top talent every year in order to prove to CBS/Turner that they made the right decision to spend all of that money for them to be the exclusive home of the tournament.
Of course, many mid-majors and lesser known schools have to compete every year with the big name schools and also schedule to play these big name schools even if they are going to lose.
Not just because they want to make their team tougher, but it helps to possibly improve their Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which is one of the metrics that the NCAA selection committee uses to choose the teams who will be in the tournament.
So even if a team have a mediocre record like a 18-12 or 17-11, etc., if they are in one of the Big 5 conferences, they have a much better chance to make the national tournament even if they did not win their respective conference tournament.
It is unlikely that the system for selecting teams in the NCAA tournaments will change anytime soon.
All of what the teams in the lesser conferences can do to make the big dance is to win their respective conference tournament, schedule tougher non-conference teams in the Big 5 conferences, or advance in the tournament like Gonzaga has done in order to show the nation that their conference is not as easy as they think it is.
Perhaps, this will level out the playing field of collegiate basketball at the Division I level.
What are your thoughts on the way the NCAA basketball tournament is run? You can leave your comment below.