Fans of (revenue-generating) college athletics expect shenanigans from the BCS and the college bowl system. Teams being pushed out of major bowls by a random number generator possessed by the NCAA is to be expected within the world of college football.
That is part of what makes the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament pure to fans. The selection process is based on a meritocracy (for the most part), and each team is given a fair chance at winning the tournament. But somehow, over the past two years, the NCAA has managed to allow the cess and idiocy from the BCS to spill into the selection process.
In an effort to limit the amount teams have to travel after Sept. 11, the NCAA decided to keep teams closer to home. But in doing so, it rearranged the selection and site assignment process more than a Picasso painting.
The NCAA mixed and matched sites, placing Spokane, Wash. in both the South and Midwest brackets. It is not clear exactly how far Spokane is from either the South or the Midwest, but the logging town in eastern Washington is as close to the two as Bogota, Columbia.
What makes this an even more flagrant error is that of the eight teams playing in Spokane, 12th-seeded Weber State (which is located in Ogden, Utah – due east of the Great Salt Lake) is the closest university to Spokane. The 700-mile separation between Ogden and Spokane should give Weber State the home court advantage over Big Ten champion Wisconsin.
And in a further effort to limit the amount of money teams need to spend on traveling, the NCAA placed No. 5 Connecticut in Spokane (which is a meager 44-hour drive across 13 states from Storrs) instead of Boston – is a two-hour drive in rush-hour traffic. But who can blame the NCAA for such a mistake because, according to it, Boston is now in the East and Midwest – which surely has John Adams spinning in his grave.
The NCAA also went and placed Indianapolis in the West bracket. The last time Indianapolis was considered to be in the West was when Henry Clay was still trying to decide who went where.
Such geographic errors should be no more acceptable for the NCAA than for an eighth-grader.
As for neutral sites, the NCAA missed the mark on that one, too.
No. 1 seed Texas, which has arguably the best guard in the nation in T.J. Ford, will play in San Antonio if it makes it into the Sweet 16. That should allow it to march through the South Regional – which already appears to be the weakest region – like General Sherman on his march to the sea.
In the East Regional, top-seeded Oklahoma gets to play its first two games in Oklahoma City, which is no different than the Brazilian National Soccer Team playing in San Paulo. But the tables will be turned on it when it travels up to Albany, N.Y. the following weekend, where Syracuse and Carmello Anthony will be waiting for them like an angry Tony Soprano.
And as if none of these mistakes were egregious enough, the NCAA also placed Brigham Young University in a bracket that would have them play in the Elite Eight on Sunday. But school rules dictate that the teams not play games on Sunday due to their religious fervor. Should the situation arise that Brigham Young makes it to the Sweet 16, it would be switched with the winner of the Wisconsin-Dayton-Weber State-Tulsa pod, and likely play No. 1 seed Kentucky instead of Texas.
And if none of this helps in filling out your bracket, just go to Angell Hall and print out the 4,536,559,206,400 copies needed to mathematically guarantee that you win your office pool.