March Madness 5 - The Play-In Game and Other Important Topics

So the March Madness controversy du jour yesterday was the "unfairness" of the play-in game last night between Niagara and Fla. A&M (Niagara won). The argument goes like this - these small school won an automatic bid but are not being treated as if they are in the tourney. There is some merit to this argument I suppose. But the fact is these are teams that history tells us will lose the next round anyway. No 16 seed has ever won a game in the regular tournament. So my sympathy is rather limited here.

The argument continues that the last two at large teams should be in the "play in" game. This year presumably it would be Illinois and Arkansas. That would be fine by me. But then they would whine. Someone always does in these things. More.

Jeralyn has documented the thin ice Alberto Gonzales now skates on. It got me to thinking about some advice given a lawyer in the movie "Body Heat:"

Hey, now I want to ask you something, Are you listening, a**h*le, because I like you?

(Racine nods)

I got a serious question for you. What the f**k are you doing? This is not sh*t for you to be messing with. Are you ready to hear something? See if this sounds familiar. Anytime you try a decent crime, there is fifty ways to f**k up. If you think of twenty-five of them you're a genius. And you're no genius.

I hope you know what you're doin' . . . you better be pretty d**n sure about it. If you ain't sure, don't do it. Of course, that's my recommendation anyway -- don't do it. Because I tell you, Counselor, this [lying to Congress], this is serious crime.
< Hillary Calls for Gonzales' Resignation | Wednesday Open Thread >
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    I am against expanding (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by glanton on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:21:51 AM EST
    the field.  

    the actual argument is (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 09:29:34 AM EST
    that the play-in teams are always historically black colleges. therefore, it is discriminatory. and it is, but not for that reason. it discriminates against very small schools, with very limited athletic budgets, who just barely meet the minimum div. I requirements, but have nowhere close to the talent of most other div. I schools.

    unfortunately, these also happen to be the historically black colleges, the ones that get in the tournament by virtue of winning their conference championship. the only way for these schools to get out of the play-in is to compete at a more national level, against better teams.

    to accomplish this would require a greater expenditure of funds. it's kind of a vicious cycle.

    Niagara is a historically black college? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 09:47:20 AM EST
    No, but that's not the problem... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Cros on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 10:09:59 AM EST
    No, Niagara isn't historically black, but that's not why the play-in game has issues.  There are two Division I conferences that are made up of historically black colleges and universities, the SWAC and the MEAC.  One of these conferences' champions has been stuck in the play-in game every year for the last six years.  (SWAC champ Jackson State must have won a coin toss or something.)

    Of course as 16 seeds they're overwhelming underdogs against the Floridas and Ohio States.  But Albany scared the crap out of UConn last year, and Alonzo Mourning needing to block a potential game-winning shot to beat Princeton is one of the more memorable spots in NCAA history.  As conference champions who earned automatic bids to the tournament, Florida A & M and Niagara both deserved their own shot, but NCAA took that chance away from A & M so the Big Ten and the SEC could get one more also-ran in the dance.  

    And that ain't right.  


    I do agree (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by a gilas girl on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 10:55:35 AM EST
    that as conference champs these teams each deserve their "own" chances.  Besides, I'm in favor of anything that keeps down the number of SEC also ran teams in the tournament.



    SEC rules (none / 0) (#7)
    by Slado on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:41:32 AM EST

    UF holds both trophies right now and has a 50/50 shot of continuing to hold those trophies.

    The media simply hates giving the SEC it's due (last year it won the NIT, had two teams int he final four and won the NCAA) etc...

    UF continually wins the all sports trophies and the SEC was the number 2 rated confrence RPI wise this year behind the ACC by .0003 RPI

    If you simply just hate the SEC and don't want to see them in there I can uderstand because I hate the Big Ten for no other reason then their games are horrible to watch.  

    As for the play-in game the easy solution is to drop the at large bids from 34 to 33.  

    That way we could have left Illinois or Purdue out of the tournament.


    SEC (none / 0) (#9)
    by glanton on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 12:48:57 PM EST
    is a great conference, no doubt.  But in this case Arkansas really got hooked up, you gotta admit.  In truth they were no more deserving than Purdue or Illinois, all three teams fit the rubric of also-rans.

    I like the idea of forcing bubble teams from major conferences to do the play-in game.

    Basketball aint what it used to be, there is lots of parity.  I am a dedicated UNC fan and I still think it's absolutely great for the game to facilitate mid-major gains so that there is more excitement in the Tourney.  Mid-majors have quite simply earned a chance to shine.  Schools like Arkansas ans Florida State and Illinois srart out with every possible advantage in terms of dollars, recruiting name brand power, scheduling possibilities etc.

    There needs to be a consistent premium on rewarding teams that have stellar years, not teams that merely survive in big conferences.  Drexel REALLY got the shaft, as did Missouri State.  But hey, the committee's job is a difficult one, and on balance they do a fine job.  IMHO.


    Also ran ACC tems are ok though? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 01:30:49 PM EST
    Tar Heels are going DOWN!!!

    be very careful now (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by a gilas girl on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 02:05:43 PM EST

    Heh (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 02:26:00 PM EST
    I picked Duke to win its first round game.

    I'll take this one (none / 0) (#17)
    by glanton on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 02:31:42 PM EST
    No, BTD, Also-Ran ACC teams are not okay.  

    That's the problem is that we can't have conversations like this unless everyone is willing to put loyalty to their own conferences, regions, and even individual teams aside and think about what is good for the game.  

    Defining "also ran", of course, is infinitely tricky.  Arizona for example has so much ability it's scary, and it's no stretch to imagine Georgia Tech making the Elite Eight.  So one must be careful. And for the most part I think the committee is careful, and does a good job.  

    Over the next couple of yuears I predict we're going to see a trend more and more towards avoiding loading up on middle of the pack teams from major conferences, whatever the conference, because such practices are being revealed as not good for the game.  

    (And of course, you may be right about UNC.  They have gobs of talent, maybe the most talent, and I love them but they may also be the laziest great team in the field.  Well, either them or Wisconsin anyway.

    What's great about this year is that no one team stands out head and shoulders.  In my mind it's easily conceivable for at least 13 teams to be left standing when all the smoke clears).


    What fun is that? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 02:42:09 PM EST
    Arizona? (none / 0) (#19)
    by Peaches on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 02:53:07 PM EST
    I cannot remain silent any longer. I mostly talk b-ball on some local blogs in MN. I don't think I am going to get much insight here at TL, but its NCAA time and its fun.

    I'm a big 10 guy and believe me, the big 10 does it every year. Too many teams and most don't go anywhere. Its a big conference and way over-rated. Still, we manage a team or two each year that gets to the sweet 16. Ohio St and Wisconsin are this years teams. I'd be surprised if either goes much further. Purdue and Illinois have no business being in the tournament and Michigan St and Indiana are bubble schools at best this year. It is about money. The big ten schools bring in ratings and fill arenas.

    But, the Pac 10 is also overrated, too. Arizona, Oregon and Stanford shouldn't be in the tournament either, but who would keep these names schools out. But, its always fun to watch these schools get upset - so there is that.

    But, Lute gets matched up with Purdue in the first round (The MN gophers beat Purdue this year for God's sake). What a gift for the guy who has a story and brings in ratings. He survives one round. Scary? not this year.  


    The MEAC and SWAC (none / 0) (#10)
    by Dadler on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 01:00:15 PM EST
    And I LOVE those lower-tier conferences (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Dadler on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 01:04:46 PM EST
    Picked an Atlantic Sun team this year to follow, the Campbell Camels, who play their home games in a 900 seat gym (2nd smallest in the NCAA D-1 -- Charleston Southern Fieldhouse has something like 700, but they play several home games in a larger arena downtown, Campbell plays EVERY home game in that matchbox.  With the internet, you can follow anyone, listen to their games online.  It's crazy.  But Campbell played in San Diego this year, and got run over by 40 at San Diego State, by 20+ at USD.  SDSU is in the Mountain West, the number 8 conference, I think, and USD is in the West Coast Conference, which I think is 12.  

    Not that I'm a college hoop freak or anything.



    NCAA Tournament (none / 0) (#5)
    by Bill Rudman on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:11:58 AM EST
    The solution to all this whining is easy: any school fielding a Division 1 basketball team makes the tournament (I believe I first heard this suggestion many years ago in a column by SF Chronicle sportswriter Glenn Dickey, but can't be sure). There are only 300 some odd teams, so this would add only one week to the event. As many preliminary games (play-in, if you will) as required to reduce the field to 256 would take place Tuesday; then a Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun two rounds would reduce the field to 64 (as we're at now).

    You just can't please everyone (none / 0) (#8)
    by HeadScratcher on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:52:34 AM EST
    Some are against expanding the field, some are against historically black colleges getting the play-in game, others hate this and others hate that. There is no perfect system. Heck, a good team has a bad day against an inferior team (or an injury or something) and that season is finished so that's no fair either.

    My biggest problem is that the atheletes don't get paid (other than scholarship) for bringing in millions of dollars to the NCAA and their member schools.

    But, having said all that, go Bruins (UCLA, not Belmont).

    Niagara is a historically black college? (none / 0) (#13)
    by cpinva on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 01:35:46 PM EST
    i didn't say niagra was, i said that's the actual argument going on now, about the play-in game: it historically has included mostly teams from those small, historically black colleges. because of that seeming disparity, the play-in game is discriminatory. again, not my words or argument.

    whether this argument is valid or not is another issue entirely. as dadler noted, the MEAC & SWAC are the two lowest rated div. I conferences, reflective of their inability to draw in major talent. this is quite naturally going to impact their position, with regards to seeding in the tournament. were these conferences both historically white schools, all else being equal, the same situation would apply.

    it all boils down to cash. that color would be green.

    It isa FAMU's argument (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 01:53:48 PM EST
    Niagara has been argung too.

    So you are worng, it is not THE argument.

    Heck, I doubt it is the principal argument.