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What was the latest and greatest Cinderella team story of them WINNING the tourney? Just asking.
Maybe it is my memory failing, but the last I can think of was UTEP way back when.
Butler made it to the title game in 2010 and had the game-winning shot rim out. They were obviously a much better program than a typical cinderella story, but they don't beat out any of the BCS conference schools for top recruits, and especially weren't doing so 2-3 years ago.
And VCU played against Butler in the Final Four that year.
It almost seems like the NCAA is giving "competition awards" to all the smaller conferences for automatic entries by their league champions. Oh, please!! Have we not all had enough of that p.c. garbage? The majority of them are there out of a sense of fairness, I guess, and maybe even a possible first round upset to screw up everyone's bracket picks. Makes it fun, but it lacks competiveness in the end and a lot of superior teams sucking on the hind NIT.
Want more games? How about a play-in tourney of the least of these conferences for a spot at the Dance, and let more of the big boys in to at least have a more likely chance of becoming a true CInderella team instead of a bunch of female impersonators?
It is what it is, as they say. Maybe this rant is just because our Hawks are down for 2 counts under the bubble water and they certainly look like a team who, to me at least, can play against some of the best of them and look good doing so, even if they should end up losing.
i appreciate your frustration, golden. however, as a practical matter, a team with a legit chance to win the tnmnt almost always survives the first round. essesntially, what we have now is a 32 team tnmnt with a play-in round. letting in the winners of lesser tnmnts must be a windfall for the small conferences. there's something at stake and that means fans in the stands and bucks in the scholarship accounts. it isn't a perfect set-up, but after the first round, the competition isn't artificial and a bunch of small schools in small conferences do get some good out of the first round charade.
Just as a basketball fan in general, not of a specific team, I love the fact that the non-BCS conference schools can get an automatic bid to the tournament. Upsets do happen every single year, and near-upsets happen even more often. The prospect of seeing that happen adds to the allure of the tournament, and is one of the major reasons the tournament is as popular as it is.
Also, it's not like the BCS conference teams that get left out are legitimate title contenders anyway. And, IMO, they've had their chance all season long to prove they belong, and they didn't get it done. They have the finances, exposure and resources to be able to field a tournament qualifying program, but failed to do so. Why not give a chance to the schools that don't have nearly those same resources to show what they can do?
I'm not saying that as a dig to Iowa, as no matter what happens, Iowa is clearly a program on the rise and Fran has done an outstanding job turning the program around.
But on a year-in, year-out basis, the BCS conference schools have every opportunity to play their way into the tournament. If they don't get it done, why not give the little guy a shot, especially when he's proven many times that he can slay Goliath?
Personally, I'm whole-heartedly in favor of the automatic qualifiers for the non-BCS, primarily for the reasons you mentioned. Those upsets are genuinely fun to watch, and add a lot of excitement to the NCAA tourney - hence the term "Madness."
However, as I stated above, I'm not sure I'm down with the idea of a team with a losing record getting a bid. I would be in favor of leaving the automatic bids as is, but establishing some basic qualifying criteria, such as at least .500 in conference and/or a winning overall record, or something along those lines.
I agree- in the end it is all about the money, and always will be from here ever after. That beer or restaurant commercial about the field being expanded to 200+ teams may be closer to the truth than we know today.
If there are about 346 Division I teams, let's take ALL the teams with .500 and above winning records and let 'em loose on one another! There would only be a couple more rounds of play, and no more whining from those that are "on the bubble". They would either be in or out based on their record. Would also add a little strategy for the pre-season scheduling for everyone- whether to ask someone or whether to play those who ask. (The lowest winning percentage teams would play the extra games required to advance to the final 64.)
UI2015 can crunch some numbers to determine how many possible teams would be elgible, TV network coverages and times, and figure out the tourney scheduling and venues for the bottom feeders.
I know it may sound a little crazy, but...It really is all about the money anymore, so why not?
I'd rather a minimum in-conference record than overall record, because a lot of those teams play very challenging nonconference schedules for financial reasons. You might see a pretty good team start out 1-7, 0-8, etc because they're playing so many difficult away games right off the bat.
Liberty is probably the exception rather than the rule, in terms of all the adversity they faced as a team this year, but it'd be unfortunate for them not to have a chance once they began putting it together late in the season.
I guess the issue becomes what to do in a situation where a team with a losing conference record wins its conference tournament. Do you send the regular season champ? Or the runner-up in the conference tourney provided they have a winning conference record?
Yeah, it's a tough issue, and I agree, I would tend to favor the conference record as the criteria rather than overall record. I see it as being similar to football and bowl-eligibility: you have to end up with a certain number of wins to be in the conversation, and basketball should probably have a cut-off of some type, and a conference record of at least .500 seems reasonable.
Your last question is the one I struggle with as well. I guess you would either choose the regular season champ, or the other possibility is that the conference would lose it's automatic bid for that year and hope for an at-large spot (it sounds harsh, but in some cases that may be appropriate if the conference as a whole has a down year). Again, it all boils down to fairness, and making sure that the best teams end up in the tourney.
A situation could occur where a team such as Charleston Southern has a banner year and all but locks up an at-large bid, but has one off game in the tourney (perhaps resting it's best players), and Liberty wins. Then you have two teams from the Big South in the tourney at the expense of several bubble teams that are obviously better than LIberty. Unfortunately, that situation occurs almost yearly and goes against the commitee's stance of focusing on making sure that the only criteria is getting the best teams in, irrespective of "balancing out" the conferences, etc.
For what its worth Iowa has moved to a top seed in three NIT Bracketology pages. Interestingly the NIT Bracket Project has Iowa with a potential 2nd round match up with UNI and a this one's for the logo game against Southern Miss.
Great post, and thanks for the conversation. I agree that there's no perfect solution to this at all.
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