NCAA tourney winner not always the best team

I’ll be the first one to admit that March is the most perfect time of the year. As if this summery weather in Erie isn’t enough to enjoy, every year the madness ensues at this time of the year.

Of course I’m talking about the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. There’s something magical about the event that captivates an entire nation.

Whether it’s the thrill of trying to fill in the perfect bracket or watching mid-major schools knock off Goliaths such as the likes of Duke and Missouri, you have to love March Madness. There’s so much drama and enjoyment that come from watching the games.

I love the tournament. The games themselves are some of the most competitive basketball games you’ll witness all year. But I’m also willing to admit that it’s not always the best team that wins every year.

Every team that makes it into the field of 68 deserves a shot at the national championship. And that’s just scary to think about if you ask me. To think that every year some small school like a Lehigh or a Norfolk State has the chance to be crowned national champion is laughable when you look at the big picture.

Do you think those schools, which hail from the Patriot League and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference respectively, could survive a rigorous schedule in one of the power conferences such as the Big Ten or the ACC?

They would probably win a few games, but they wouldn’t stand a chance in those conferences over the long haul. And therefore, as a more-than-likely bottom dweller, if you put them in those power conferences, they wouldn’t have even made it into the tournament in the first place.

I’m not saying that those two schools are bad teams. What I’m saying is just because they advanced to the round of 32 does not necessarily mean that they are a top-32 team. I bet if Duke or Missouri had another shot at them or played them in a series of games, they wouldn’t win again or at the very least they would certainly lose the majority of the time in a playoff series.

In college basketball, the NCAA crowns a champion that is the best team over a six-game stretch instead of the best team of that season. All those regular season wins, accomplishments and feats can easily be flushed down the drain because none of it matters until March.

A team can literally go into hibernation for four months, wake up in time for the conference tournament, win that tournament and it’s automatically in. There’s something fundamentally wrong with that if a sport decides a winner that way.

But how do you change a flawed system, you might ask? Reduce the amount of teams to 32, where it was originally, at and make teams play a three-game playoff series in order to advance to the next round.

And eliminate the conference tournaments as well and only let in at-large bids. For a sport such as basketball, I believe you need a playoff series system in place in order to determine who the best team is. The NBA does it. Why can’t the NCAA do something similar? I love basketball, but when it comes to the NCAA and its handling on the basketball tournament format, I find it incredibly flawed.

 

JACOB TARR

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