Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The One-Month Countdown!

It's February 15th: do you know where your children are?  Oh, I meant to say "do you know what that means?"  It's the day after Valentine's Day!  That means you can return all those lousy gifts you got for V-Day (at least the ones that weren't homemade).  Oh wait, that's a Christmas thing.

Oh, then it must be a month until March Madness!  Silly rabbit.  And it's good timing, because there's all this uproar in the sports commentary community about the fact that two teams that were #1 in the polls have lost in the last three days (Ohio State to 14 Wisconsin and Kansas to Kansas State).  People are complaining that these losses, though they seem big in the heat of the moment, really won't affect Ohio State's or Kansas' tournament seeding or chances much at all, and thus the hoopla is really not warranted.  They argue that the regular season games in college basketball are cheapened by their minimal individual impact on the playoff picture and the fact that the NCAA tournament is such a big deal.


First of all, don't you think the game's sort of important to the winning teams, whose resumes are going to be critical come tournament selection time?  Wisconsin is now #10 in the polls and could really serve to benefit by moving up from a 4 to a 3 seed, thus potentially avoiding a top seed in the Sweet Sixteen.  Kansas State, despite being a top team at the beginning of the season, went 5-7 from the middle of December to the end of January and is now a bubble team.  A win against conference and in-state rival Kansas could be a huge boost for their confidence and tournament resume, and may give them the surge they need to make the tournament at all (where they got to the Elite Eight last year).

Second, of course regular season games aren't individually THAT important.  People on TV today were comparing the importance of a regular season matchup in basketball and football, but there are 3 times as many games in a college basketball season!  That means that each game is worth approximately 1/3 of what it would mean in a football season.  It's just simple math.  However, if you want to have a schedule that includes a sufficient amount of both conference and non-conference games, you're gonna have to deal with 30-some games and a little bit of an empty feeling inside sometimes.

Third, HELLO!  The NCAA Tournament is the greatest sporting event of the year, every year!  Why would you ever consider making changes to a system that has such profound success on an annual basis?  Pundits complain about the BCS playoff system all the freaking time because it's flawed and all that, but it makes the whole regular season essentially a double-elimination tournament.  You can't have your cake and eat it too here.  Increasing the excitement of the regular season in college basketball is just going to end up reducing the subjective impact of the tournament, and nobody wants that.  Just let me ignore the first few months of the season and have my five brackets busted in the first round of the tournament as I return home with my tail between my legs.

Stop complaining.

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