Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
It looks like the train that is a 96-team NCAA basketball tournament in 2011 can’t be derailed. The first two days of this year’s tournament – 32 games in two days – is already borderline ridiculous. Nobody who seriously wants to follow all of the games (16 each day) can do that – even if they have five TVs. The games just blend into each other and, before you know it, you are mixing up teams, games and scores in your mind.
It will be far worse next year when the top 32, apparently, will get a first-round bye and there will be 32 games on Tuesday and Wednesday (or whatever the first two days of the tournament would be – the previous weekend would be absurd but that’s what might happen for ratings) and then 32 more on Thursday and Friday.
What a disaster!
HOW MUCH WILL THAT CHEAPEN THE REGULAR SEASON AND THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS?
Well, it will cheapen them plenty. The regular season (other than the Ivy League, where there is no conference tournament) long ago left the building as having any more than minimal importance. Very few pick up on college basketball nowadays before mid-January and most football fans don’t think about it until after the AFC and NFC Championship games (or even the Super Bowl in early February).
But, now, the automatic bid for winning a conference tournament will also mean less. With 32 extra teams in the tournament, it will be hard to be any good (not real good) and not make the tournament. For example, many stated that, next year, a team like Connecticut would make the tournament, an embarrassment given the way they played down the regular-season stretch and then in their mind-boggling performance in a weak loss to St. John’s in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
And what will the regular season AND the conference tournament mean when 10 or 11 (or 12?) teams from one conference make the tournament?
Very, very little, if anything at all.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
You know it’s almost always about the money. And this is no different. If the powers-that-be at the NCAA are going to further water down their product by adding ANOTHER 32 games, that’s how it’s going to be.
But it says here that this mistake will wind up with fewer viewers during the regular season, fewer viewers during the conference tournament and a big yawn for the first four days of the 2011 tournament (i.e., wake me up for the Sweet 16, which already happens with some fans).
SO, WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
Well, that’s easy. There really are some “bubble” teams every year that have a legitimate gripe about not getting into the field of 65. The easy solution would have been to have the last four out, according to the committee, go on the road that first Tuesday and play the last four in (see Kallas Remarks, 3/18/08). Then have the winners play back on Friday.
Eliminate the pathetic 64/65 game, which should be renamed the “Play to Get Your Head Kicked in by a Number One Seed” game. Once somebody came up with this stupid idea, it should have been clear to somebody with a brain and some power that, by having four competitive games (for teams who would be seeded 11 or 12, not 16), they could have four sellouts on college campuses across the country, four meaningful games where the winners at least have a chance (unlike the 64/65 winner) to make a run and, most important, the biggest complainers of not getting in could go on the road and prove the committee wrong.
If you couldn’t get into the top 68, you really wouldn’t have a valid complaint (and we wouldn’t have to listen to the chairman of the committee say how tough it was at the bottom – there would be a “buffer zone” of teams with the opportunity to get in).
Next year, with 96 teams, it will be a joke.
BEWARE SYRACUSE AS THE EARLY LOSS MAY ACTUALLY HELP THEM
In retrospect, the best thing that could have happened to Syracuse in the Big East Tournament might just turn out to be losing in their first game (after the ridiculous double-bye, another new invention of the last few years). No team who is going to make the tournament, like Syracuse, needs to play three head-banging games in three days (or four or now even five with the “everybody makes the tourney” absurdity).
In all seriousness, what is the meaning of the regular season if every team makes the post-season conference tournament? It’s preposterous.
To ask a coach to play three games in three days, etc. is like asking a three-year-old race horse to win the Triple Crown – nobody intentionally races a horse three times in five weeks anymore (except the Triple Crown) and no coach with a brain would schedule three games in three consecutive nights (or four in four or five in five). It’s beyond stupid.
And don’t forget that when Syracuse won it all in 2003, they lost their second Big East Tournament game to UConn. And the two other times that Jim Boeheim made the Final Four (1987 and 1996), Syracuse failed to win the Big East Tournament.
So what? Quick, who won the Big East Tournament three years ago? Hopefully, you get the point.
WITH EXTRA REST AND A WEEK TO PREPARE, SYRACUSE CAN WIN IT ALL UNLESS …
Unless their injured big man, Arinze Onuaku, can’t heal totally before next week (apparently he suffered a “treatable” quad injury in Syracuse’s Big East Tourney loss – we’ll see). One of those big bodies who can bang and score (11 points, 5 rebounds per), Onuaku is desperately needed by Syracuse. They only go seven deep, but, nowadays, as in virtually all sporting events of note, there are so many TV timeouts, etc. that players can get a rest throughout the game and don’t need to be taken out of the game as much as yesteryear, when there was a palpable flow to a game.
Today, it takes forever to finish these sporting events, be they baseball games, football games or even college basketball games (I’m no big soccer fan, but you’ve got to love the fact that the clock just keeps on ticking and, even with a few minutes of extra time, you know pretty much when the game will end virtually EVERY GAME).
But it says here that Syracuse, if healthy, can make an all-the-way run in this year’s tournament – regardless of (and maybe with help from) their meaningless loss in the Big East Tournament.
© Copyright 2010 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.