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.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: