Feb 282005
 
Authors: Pete Scalia

March is right around the corner and with March comes "March Madness."

But after all of the conference tournaments have ended and when Selection Sunday finally arrives, there will be a handful of teams walking around wondering where they went wrong.

Meanwhile, the tournament will also allow in teams that will get destroyed in the first round of competition. Does anybody actually think a team from that enters the tournament as a No. 16 seed has a snowball's chance against an Illinois in the first round?

At the same time, as the NCAA Tournament is holding its blow-out weekend when the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds feast upon small-conference tournament winners, the National Invitational Tournament begins its annual show.

Since 1938 the NIT has been around longer than the NCAA Tournament. However, the NIT is a post-season tournament that gets very little respect from most sportswriters because of the lack of big teams in the brackets.

Thirteen times a Final Four finisher in the NIT during one season went on to make it to the NCAA Tournament the following year and made it to the Final Four in that tournament, four times winning the championship. That statistic proves that many quality teams are left out of the Big Dance.

What if, instead of the NIT running at the same time as the NCAA Tournament, it waited to see how that tournament turned out and then selected its teams?

Teams that were left on the outside looking in after Selection Sunday and teams that pulled off big upsets in the NCAA Tournament could play against the teams that made it to the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight.

But if the NIT wants to remain a second-class tournament, maybe the NCAA Tournament could give a little to allow all the "Bubble Teams" into the tournament. The NCAA Tournament allows 65 teams into its brackets – there are 63 main teams, and two small schools have to play each other to decide who gets to lose to the best team in the tournament in the first round. It seems as if the tournament has stacked the odds against the smaller schools.

What if every school in the tournament had to play one more game to win the national championship? This would extend the number of teams in the tournament from 65 to 128, essentially eliminating any school without a winning record and at the same time getting rid of bubble teams all together.

That would still allow for all of the upsets and buzzer-beating shots that make March Madness so great; it would just present the opportunity for more of them.

 

Pete Scalia is a junior technical journalism major. He is a sports reporter for the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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