On Friday afternoon, Andy Katz of ESPN.com put together a story on some of the potential changes that are coming to the NCAA tournament process.
There are some noteworthy bits in there, like the fact that the regionals will be played in basketball arenas, meaning that Sweet 16 games in Cowboy Stadium are a thing of the past. The NCAA is also going to take into consideration the amount of travel that the families of the participating athletes will have; any parent out there can understand what that’s a big deal.
But the most important note that Katz makes is that the Selection Committee is going to take their focus off of bracketing principles — keeping teams from the same conference from playing until the Elite 8, avoiding regular season rematches, etc. — and make protecting the seed of a team their priority. The only priority that will change a seed line is to keep BYU from having to play on a Sunday.
This came to the forefront last season when Oregon was a 12 seed and five seed UNLV was forced to play 12 seed Cal, a rematch, in San Jose, a virtual home game.
With how bloated the major conferences have become, we’re going to reach a point where avoiding rematches and intra-conference collisions in the tournament will be nearly impossible. It’s more important to make sure that the seed that a team earns is the seed that a team gets even if it comes at the cost of, say, Maryland playing North Carolina the first weekend.
The next step for the tournament to make?
Stop calling the play-in games the first round. The round of 64 is not the second round, it’s the first round. The round of 32 is not the third round, it’s the second round. This is not only counterintuitive and, arguably, the dumbest thing in the history of college basketball, but it also gets everyone confused when we’re use historical data.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.