Increased tournament field ruining college basketball
April 1, 2011
With Butler playing VCU on Saturday, an eight-seed or lower will play in the NCAA championship game for the first time since eighth-seeded Villanova won the National title game 26 years ago.
VCU is in the tournament only because the field was expanded this year. This is also the first year that neither a one or two-seed has not made the Final Four.
Many fans, pundits, and particularly coaches have lauded the expansion as a way to give more teams a chance to participate in the tournament. Subsequently, the proponents of a larger and larger tournament field point to the make-up of this years Final Four as a reason for further expansion, that 11-seed Virginia Commonwealth makes for a great story and gets fans excited about college basketball.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. The average fan has little feeling, good or bad, towards VCU and Butler.
Joe Rube may root for them when they are the underdog, but playing against each other, who cares who wins? No one picked either team to get this far so there is no betting interest. Virginia and Indiana will be the only ones watching.
When Duke plays Ohio State at least Joe Rube has built emotions over time to love or hate a given team. He picks sides and watches.
Admittedly, Connecticut and Kentucky are traditional basketball powers on the other side of the bracket and give Championship weekend some history. However, only one of those teams will play for a trophy on Monday.
The Championship has already lost the mass appeal it would’ve had if Kansas or Florida had won and would be playing in it. CBS is losing out on ratings. Butler and VCU deserve credit; they have made the most of the opportunity given to them. But neither team would have beaten Kansas or Florida in a seven-game series. That point warrants little argument. The best teams rarely win a tournament in a one-game format.
This means to get the best product on the biggest stage the tournament should be retracted. I say to 32 teams. I want to see NBA prospects playing each other, not a couple teams comprised of six-foot jump-shooters.
The same goes for those in favor of a playoff in major college football. Nobody wanted to see 8-4 Connecticut play in the Fiesta Bowl already. Expand to a playoff and Auburn will play Marshall in the first game. No thank you. I’ll take Auburn versus Oregon or LSU instead. Expanding anything dilutes the product.
I was recently at the original Famous Dave’s restaurant in Hayward, Wis. Fantastic. The ribs were smoky and the cornbread was moist. The food is very good at their Famous Dave’s franchises, but it doesn’t compare.
The restaurant chain expanded and the food quality slipped a bit. So, if you do bother to watch the Final Four ask your self this, ‘Do I want good food or great food?’