Blog Entry

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

Posted on: July 12, 2010 3:55 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 10:19 pm

Let's start with what they're calling it.

The First Four.

I like it because it's snappy!

We'll now go from the First Four to the Final Four in a matter of three weeks, and the First Four will include the final four at-large teams, which isn't exactly what I wanted, but I'm willing to compromise. I wanted the final eight at-large teams to battle it out in Dayton for the right to enter the conventional 64-team bracket because I would like to be interested in what are unofficially play-in games. That just hasn't been the case in the past because I couldn't care less about watching the SWAC champion and Big South champion play for the right to be murdered by the ACC champion. Sorry, NCAA, but that Tuesday night is reserved around my home for catching up on real-life stuff or chasing down coaching rumors. I know your "opening round" game was on, but I never watched it. Swear to God, I don't think I ever saw more than five minutes of it. It was a pseudo-boycott rooted in a lack of interest.

And now there will be two of those pathetic games instead of one.

So, no, this is not perfect.

But two of those games is better than four of those games, which is why Monday's unveiling of the new concept for the new 68-team field was a pleasant surprise. The odds of the NCAA making the final eight at-large teams play "opening round" games were way lower than the odds of the NCAA making the eight worst automatic qualifiers play "opening round" games because the NCAA is not in the business of helping the little guys while screwing the big boys. That's just not how this organization is run. So perhaps the NCAA has me on board for the same reason I was on board with the decision to expand to 68, because I go into these things expecting the worst and find myself pleased when I don't get it.

I wanted no expansion, but I thought the NCAA would expand to 96. So a 68-team field is fine with me because it's not as bad as it could've been. Likewise, I wanted the final eight at-large teams to play "opening round" games, but I thought the NCAA would simply take the eight worst automatic qualifiers. So a compromise between the two -- the final four at-large teams and the worst four automatic qualifiers will compete in the "opening round" games  -- is not as bad as it could've been. So I'm not as mad as I could've been. In fact, I'm cool with it. Had this format been in place last season, we would've got something like UTEP vs. Mississippi State and Ole Miss. vs. Illinois on the Tuesday or Wednesday after Selection Sunday, and though those games aren't marquee in the traditional sense, they are much more intriguing than Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Winthrop.

In other words, I'll watch.

For the first time ever, I'll watch the NCAA tournament before Thursday.

(Click this link to view a sample bracket of a 68-team field.)
Category: NCAAB

Since: May 5, 2010
Posted on: July 14, 2010 3:42 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

I couldn't agree more.  64 was the perfect size for this tounament and expansion beyond that was silly to begin with.  The 65th team was added because a 31st D-1 conference was annointed and this would have meant cutting down the at-large bids from 34 to 33.  The big conferences didn't like that much and were protecting their 34 at-large bids and the 65-team field was born.  But these "last few in" at-large teams never really impact the tournament, and they aren't needed to make this a good experience for the players or fans.  My vote is to go back to 64 teams -- 31 automatic and 33 at-large.  The big conferences will squawk about it but so what?

Since: Mar 27, 2009
Posted on: July 14, 2010 12:33 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

The addition of these games arent so much to give us more games to watch but to give the guys on the bubble a fair chance and possibly take pressure off the selection committee in choosing those last guys in.

Only thing is any way you expand it, there are always gonna be guys on the bubble that can make an argument towards a shot in the dance. Keeping it at 64 with a play in game was just fine by me.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: July 14, 2010 12:59 am

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

My major problem.  They call these play in games, right?  Ok so no team that has an automatic bid should play in these games, right? 

Nope. These four games will be called the first round.

Since: Mar 16, 2009
Posted on: July 13, 2010 5:55 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

My major problem.  They call these play in games, right?  Ok so no team that has an automatic bid should play in these games, right?  I think if you are going to call them the first four you take the last four in and the last four out and the play for a place in each region.  They will get the last seeding in those brackets.  They should be a 13 seed and they should be the same in each bracket.  Why I picked the 13 seed is that they will play a four in the first round.  We already know 1s always win, 2s have only been bounced twice in the first round (I think) and 3s happen infrequently.  So let's have some drama the first day besides 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12s have the only real chance to win.

Since: Mar 6, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2010 2:07 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

I actually like this solution the best among all considered, including the extant 65 team field.  First, we give three more teams the opportunity to play their way into the main draw.  Not only do Bracketologists everywhere get to know, for sure, who were the 'last four in', we also get to see matters settled on the court.  Second, the pool of 16 seeds has increased from 4 to 5, and now to 6.  This not only means the 1 vs 16 games have a larger chance of being at least competitive, but more importantly means slightly stronger 13-15 seeds as the automatic qualifiers are all 'bumped up'.  Given that 13+ seed victories are the most memorable of upsets, this can only help the quality of play in the first weekend.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2010 1:26 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

Expansion HAPPENED folks. Deal with it. It will happen again in the future. Deal with it.

I agree with Gary that the games would have been better if they were the last 8 at-large teams added into the tournament. What better way to see which bubble teams deserve to get into the tournament than let them play head-to-head. The ratings for those games would have been great!!!

It will be interesting to see what the brackets look like this year. It will be fun to see how people's bracket pools are affected.

Since: Jun 26, 2010
Posted on: July 13, 2010 1:06 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

why do u want expansion? so illinois can actually make to the tournament? how bout they actually earn their way into the tournament.

Since: Dec 10, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2010 12:18 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

No they really haven't messed with the integrity.  Slotting the At large games as definite 12 seeds would have been messing with the integrity.  They are slotting the At Large Play Ins where they fit in the bracket in a given season.  So in other words, some seasons the smaller conferences have teams like VCU or Nevada or Winthrop (dominant auto bids of past seasons) that are deserving of 10 seeds ahead of the 30th at large selection, and other years that is not the case.  So the seeding is not compromised.

I'm with Gary - would have preferred to see the play in games as a right of passage for the selection of 64 teams in the main bracket but this solution is better than reserving a designated 12 seed, and better than 4 mid-major teams getting eliminated before the real tournament starts. 

Actually, the idea of 4 At Large Play Ins and 4 Auto Play Ins seems pretty fair.  Think about it this way, instead of one mid-major At Large team getting eliminated before the bracket of 64, now there will be 2 mid-major teams eliminated.  Not such a big change, and on the flip side, there will be year's where the UTEP's, VCUs, and Wichitas of the NCAA that would have been NIT bound now end up getting an opportunity to play in to the tournament as At Large teams.     

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2010 12:14 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

"why would you want it to expand, it was perfect at 64 if anything they should go back to that.."
Going above 64 is what led to this trainwreck in the first place.
This new "solution" tries to have it both ways. They needed to decide -- either saddle 3 more 16's with a play-in game or establish one seed line (probably the 13) as an at-large play-in. The latter is more fair, but I could've lived with either one. This wrecks the symmetry.
And the worst thing about the two at-large play-ins is filling a variable seed. How can one bubble team be at a 10, possibly above a solid bid that's an 11? 
The best idea would be to take the final 8 at-large candidates and play four seeded games, two on Monday and two on Tuesday. Monday's winners fill the 13 seeds on Thursday, Tuesday's fill 13 on Friday. If necessary, there would be an exemption for the rules for conference afiliation (and other seeding rules) within subregions.
Tournament begins.

Since: Mar 22, 2007
Posted on: July 12, 2010 11:48 pm

Perfect? No. But I kind of like the new bracket

I'll have to watch on my computer--March Madness On Demand--since I don't have cable and, even if I did, I don't think most cable systems carry TruTV.  It's sad--one of the biggest sporting events of the year going to mostly cable TV...

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