Monday, March 16, 2009

More March Cheating

As I pointed out a few years ago, the Sports announcers and the powers that be were upset when the Missouri Valley dominated the tournament and the Sweet Sixteen was one-fourth small conferences as was the Final Four. Last year we sat through ESPN complaining about the six small conference at large bids, historically a fairly low number, and arguing that small conferences should not even have Automatic Bids. Of course the NCAA continues to play up to the money and ESPN and lowered the number of At-Large Bids from 6 to 4. This is ridiculous. Just take a look.

The Big 10 sent 7 teams! 63% of this conference is in the tournament. Wisconsin is in without winning 20 games. You do not even have to finish in the top half of the Big 10 to make the tournament. The Pac-10 sent 6 proving the same thing in that league with 60% of the teams in. The Big East sent 7, but that means that just under half of the conference is in the tournament. Exactly half of the Big 12 is in the tournament. This includes Texas A&M who was 9-7 in their conference and lost to Tulsa (small conference) during the season. Texas lost even more than that and they still made the tournament. It is absolutely ridiculous.

The NCAA is also continuing their policy of eliminating these teams by making them play each other as I told you last year. Gonzaga vs. Akron is unnecessary. So is Xavier vs. Portland State. I could fix this without switching seeding. Let Gonzaga play Mississippi St. and Akron play Washington. Then if I can switch one seed, just let Portland St. play Florida State and then drop Wisconsin to play Xavier. Problem solved. But that is not what they want.

Let us also remember the insanity of their reasoning. They think that Small Conference schools cannot compete against the Big Boys, so let more Big Conference teams play. But just examine the results. Last year Memphis was in the Final Game (only bid from their league Conference USA), and Davidson made the Elite Eight (only bid from the Southern Conference). The year before that I believe Memphis made the Elite Eight and Butler (Horizon), UNLV (Mountain West), and Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley) made the 25% of the Sweet Sixteen small schools. 2006 was the year where 31% of the Sweet Sixteen were small conference schools 25% of the Elite Eight and George Mason (one of two schools from the Colonial that year) made the Final Four to make 25% of the Final Four. While 2005 was an off year with only UW-Milwaukee and Utah making the Sweet Sixteen, 2004 had St. Joseph’s(Atlantic 10) in the Elite Eight and UAB (C-USA) to reach the Sweet Sixteen along with Nevada and Xavier (Atlantic 10). Another 25% of the Sweet Sixteen. In 2003, Marquette reached the Final Four after defeating number one ranked Kentucky. Remember at that time Marquette was in Conference USA, a small conference (25% of the Final Four for the math challenged). 2002 small conference schools made up 13% of the Sweet Sixteen (Southern Illinois and Kent St.). 2001 had Temple in the Elite Eight and Gonzaga joining them in the Sweet Sixteen with Cincinnati, which was a small conference school then. That is about 19% of the Sweet Sixteen.

So examining the facts it really appears as if the Small Schools get better and better and fewer and fewer bids. They routinely got at least 5 and sometimes up to seven. Logic would dictate that perhaps 25% of the At-Large bids ought to go to the Small Schools. Instead this year it is around 11%. Despite out performing every year, the small conferences continually get snubbed.

The biggest losers this year are St. Mary’s whose conference has gotten two bids in the past, and San Diego State. Clearly, they both should have gotten in. One day sanity will take over, but until then please join me in routing against every team from the Big Conferences.