Monday, July 29, 2013

A Modest Proposal: Messing With the Bubble

Beginning June 17,  a series of  articles titled "A Modest Proposal" will be appearing every other Monday. The dates are June 17, July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, September 9, September 23, October 7, and October 21. The ten part series will include ideas for ways to increase attention to the SoCon, Mocs basketball, NCAA basketball, or mid-major basketball. This is part one. Here's a link to all the articles.

As a college basketball fan,  as I discussed in the previous edition of "A Modest Proposal," I want the regular season to mean something. I proposed in that article that we should change up the format of the conference tournaments, so that the best teams were rewarded more fully for their regular season accomplishments.

So what annoys me more than anything else?

When a ninth place team wins a national title- like Connecticut in 2011.

I think there should be a limit on the number of teams per conference that are allowed into the tournament. Think about it. There are 32 Division 1 conferences (unless I am missing something). For 68 teams, that means 2.125 teams per conference in the dance.

I am not proposing two or three teams per conference in the dance, though.

Think about college football. As the sport moves to a four team playoff, most fans seem to think that all four teams should be conference champions that make it. There are some people who think that the four team playoff should consist of the "best" four teams, but most people even recognize that one of those factors should be if they won their conference or not. So why is the discussion not at least somewhat similar in college basketball?

To me, where you finished in your conference should matter. I have no problem with the conference tournament champion getting an invite to the NCAA Tournament (so you're back in Connecticut, 2011!), but I don't understand why we want to see seven, eight, nine teams from a conference in the tournament. Let me ask a question- did Davidson prove more last regular season or did Tennessee or Kentucky (popularly considered the first teams to have missed the tournament last year)? I think they absolutely did. They were 17-1 in the SoCon and deserved a bid to the tournament even if they had not won the SoCon Tournament. Kentucky and Tennessee did not deserve a bid. Yes, they won more games against Top 50 teams. They also got a lot more opportunities. It's not really fair to bash Davidson for the conference they are in. Yes, it's also not fair to just reward a team for playing in a weak conference.

Also, I realize that Davidson made the tournament and  Tennessee and Kentucky did not, but if Davidson had lost in the SoCon Tournament, they would not have been invited. They would not have even been in the discussion.

However, I think that a team that wins their conference has proven more than a team that has finished either just above or right at .500.

I believe that the tournament should have the most deserving teams- not the best teams, necessarily. It's a subtle difference. But it's a huge difference, too. The best teams may not be the most deserving team. Again, I think that a team that wins their conference is more deserving than a team that finishes seventh in their conference. That does not mean that the seventh place team would not beat the first place team head-to-head. It just means that the first place team is more deserving, in my opinion.

So, I'm not sure if the number is correct. But I think that no more than five teams per conference deserve a bid to the tournament. That means that if the committee wants to take a ninth place team in a conference, they are more than welcome to. However, they will still only be able to take a total of five teams in that conference.

That does not guarantee every regular season champ will get in. It just means that a second team from a smaller conference could get a chance to get in, because the nine teams from the Big East won't be getting in. This would hurt conferences that are huge...but maybe they deserve to be hurt a bit.

Who really believes that a ninth place team is the best in the country? That's my question. So why do we want them to compete for the national championship? I have a difficult time accepting anyone outside of the top two or three in a conference being the best team in the country. But I also know that the tournament won't go under 68 teams, so you have to be able to get more teams than that in the tournament. That's why five is a good number. If we disagree on the number, propose another one and I would be happy to consider it.

In reality, I realize that I should probably pick just one of the two between the conference tournament set up and this proposition. I think that these two would put a lot of meaning on the regular season. However, I think only one could reasonably pass. I'm not sure which one I prefer. What about you?

Thoughts on this or any of the rest in the series? Let me know via Twitter (@MocsMania), in the comments, or through e-mail (

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mocs News & Notes: July 16

--Johnny Taylor has come back to Chattanooga as a graduate assistant. This is incredible news for those of us who remember some of the Mocs best days. He was the star player on the 1997 team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. He was drafted 17th in the NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, and has proceeded to play fifteen years in professional basketball. So he brings a lot of basketball experience to the sideline for the Mocs. In fact, he is now the oldest on the coaching staff at the ripe old age of 36. He is the senior statesman. That sounds odd.

He also is coming back to Chattanooga to complete his degree. This is really good news for him. If he wants to get into coaching, that is a necessity. He says he is interested in becoming a head coach one day. This is a great opportunity for him. But not only that- it is a great opportunity for Chattanooga basketball to reconnect to their roots and invigorate a fan base that has been apathetic in recent years. The fans that remember those days will be excited by this. It is certainly another right move by Will Wade- another right move. I'm very excited about this move.

--The 2013-14 schedule was announced on Monday morning. Is it a great schedule? I'll quote Will Wade from the interview earlier this summer. "It won't be the best schedule ever." Go check it out and then head back over.

Three non-D1s is a major problem. Covenant, Montreat, and Hiwassee are some of the non-conference games. Yuck.

However, we knew that coming in. Let's cut through those three games and look at the rest of the non-conference schedule. A trip to Radford and a home date against Kennesaw State are included with Covenant and Montreat in the first four games. Radford and Kennesaw State are not pushovers by any means. Radford was roughly equal to the Mocs last year, while Chattanooga beat Kennesaw State last year. There is a real chance to start 4-0, while Radford and Kennesaw do not provide terrible opposition early in the year. I think those are decent mid-major opponents for the Mocs to be playing, and don't have a problem with those two teams.

Then comes the Las Vegas Invitational, where UCLA and Nevada will be the first road games. The Bruins will be good, and the Wolfpack are rebuilding. It is not impossible to think that the Mocs come up with a win in one of those games that would establish in Chattanooga that the Mocs are back. That being said, the Mocs could lose both games.

In Las Vegas, the Mocs will play Morehead State on Thanksgiving and then either IUPUI or Gardner Webb the next day. This is not a great set of teams, though I like playing Morehead Stat, and IUPUI and Gardner Webb are not awful teams. I think this can be an intriguing piece of the schedule. It's obviously one of the most important parts of the early season schedule.

That tournament wraps up on Friday. On Monday, the Mocs head to Georgia. Wow. That's not an easy ten days. Trips to UCLA, Nevada, back-to-back games in Las Vegas against OK mid-majors, and a trip to Georgia.

After Hiwassee, trips to Northern Kentucky and UAB wrap up the pre-Christmas schedule. Both of those are winnable, and there is no reason to think NKU is not winnable and that UAB could not be competitive. Then, the Dr Pepper Classic features a game against new D1 member Grand Canyon. Maine and Middle Tennessee play in the other half. If the Mocs and Blue Raiders both win, there will  be an interesting showdown between two Tennessee schools- Chattanooga and Middle Tennessee.

Finally, in the middle of the SoCon schedule, Eastern Kentucky hosts Chattanooga on February 4. That should be a very interesting, BracketBuster type of game. I'm excited about battling the Colonels in this contest.

The SoCon schedule features playing these teams once: Davidson (road), Elon (home), Georgia Southern (home), The Citadel (road).

Look at the beginning of the SoCon schedule: at Furman, at The Citadel, Samford, Wofford. If the Mocs can figure out how to win on the road, and can beat two teams that are probably middle of the pack SoCon teams at home, they could start the SoCon season 4-0. That would provide a huge confidence boost as the season rolls forward. Only have to play Davidson and Elon (the preseason top two teams in the SoCon) once is an advantage in the schedule, though it does not help the RPI. They don't play Western Carolina until February 13 and 27. The Catamounts are the other team that I think is the most likely to get a bye- so playing them later could be good, because the Mocs will be used to the new system and most ready to beat the Catamounts.

It could all come down to March 1 at home against Appalachian State. Nice way to wrap up the year on Senior Day. Huge night to say good-bye to the Mountaineers in the SoCon, and could be trying to wrap up some position in the SoCon. First? Maybe. A bye? Maybe. We'll see.

I think the schedule sets up nicely to possibly win as many as 20 games. I think it's possible. It's a lofty goal, but an attainable one. If the Mocs are 4-0 heading on their trip to Vegas, that would be a huge start and really start to get the fan base to believe that real change has happened.

GO MOCS! #BelieveBig

A Modest Proposal: Changing Up Conference Tournaments

Beginning June 17,  a series of  articles titled "A Modest Proposal" will be appearing every other Monday. The dates are June 17, July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, September 9, September 23, October 7, and October 21. The ten part series will include ideas for ways to increase attention to the SoCon, Mocs basketball, NCAA basketball, or mid-major basketball. This is part one. Here's a link to all the articles.

I love college basketball. I love the regular season. I love the conference tournaments. I love the Big Dance. I love college basketball.

That being said, it is easy to understand why so many fans are fair weather fans that show up after the Super Bowl ends. In a sport where a last place team can go into March and get to keep playing as long as they keep winning, it's easy to dismiss the first three to four months of the season.

And that, on the whole, is bad for the sport. In most conferences, the best team may be forced to play one less game than the last place team, but that's really not a major deterrent to finish last. Yes, I realize that in the SoCon no team that has had to play four games in four days has also won the SoCon Tournament. So there is an advantage. Still, how much of an advantage is it? It's an advantage, but I think it should be a bigger advantage.

Why would smaller conferences want to send their seventh best team to the NCAA Tournament as opposed to their best team? I understand why they want every team to be in the conference tournament. By doing so, it gets fans from every team to potentially buy tickets to the tournament. That helps create some atmosphere at the tournament. But why would they want to not do everything possible to help one of the best teams win and represent the conference?

Therefore, I believe that more of the smaller conferences should employ what I call the West Coast Conference bracket. In this format, there are only eight teams in the conference tournament, but the best two teams get a double bye. It can be done with any size bracket, though. Let's look at an 8 team bracket, 10 team bracket and 12 team bracket.

8 Team
Round 1
5 vs. 8
6 vs. 7

Round 2
4 vs. 5/8
3 vs. 6/7

Round 3
1 vs. 4-5/8
2 vs. 3-6/7

10 Team
Round 1
5 vs.10
6 vs. 9
7 vs. 8

Round 2
4 vs. 5/10
3 vs. 6/9
2 vs. 7/8

Round 3
1 vs. 4-5/10
2-7/8 vs. 3-6/9

12 Team
Round 1
3 vs. 12
4 vs. 11
5 vs. 10
6 vs. 9
7 vs. 8

Round 2
2 vs. 7/8
3/12 vs. 6/9
4/11 vs. 5/10

Round 3
1 vs. 4/11-5/10
2-7/8 vs. 3/12-6/9

In an eight team or ten team league, both of the top two seeds get double byes. In the twelve team bracket, the two seed gets one bye, while the one seed gets a double bye.

Does this guarantee that the best teams will win the conference tournament? No, but it sure helps. Also, it provides distinct meaning to later season games. Some people say, "What if the first and third place teams aren't separated by much at all? That two game difference is sure a big advantage."

I don't care. That provides all the more meaning to the regular season. Think about it. It's a twelve team league. Three teams head into the final weekend fighting for the one, two, and three seeds. How critical would those games be? Under the current twelve team format, sure they matter, but all three of those teams will receive byes in the conference tournament. So that makes those games much more important.

I like the additional meaning that having the regular season champ get an automatic invite to the NIT. I still think this could do even more for the smaller conferences. Sure, I don't think the SEC, ACC, Big East, etc. should move to this format, but a conference like the SoCon, Horizon, Big West, Sun Belt or the OVC should move to a format like this. It would add meaning to the regular season, while also helping get the very best teams in the NCAA Tournament, while not totally eliminating teams from getting hot and getting into the Big Dance.

If you have any thoughts on this and would like to discuss, feel free to comment, tweet, or send me an e-mail at

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Modest Proposal: Mid Major Friday

Beginning June 17,  a series of  articles titled "A Modest Proposal" will be appearing every other Monday. The dates are June 17, July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, September 9, September 23, October 7, and October 21. The ten part series will include ideas for ways to increase attention to the SoCon, Mocs basketball, NCAA basketball, or mid-major basketball. This is part one. Here's a link to all the articles.

The proposal here is that mid-majors should each have two or three of their conference games each week of conference season on Friday night.


There are two excellent reasons. We'll start with the less obvious, but equally important reason.

Officiating. On Saturdays, mid-major conferences consistently complain about terrible referees, claiming that they have better refs on the weekdays. Why are the refs better on the weekdays? Because there are fewer games for the best refs to be at. Therefore, a higher quality of referee is working the weekday games, in general, at mid-major conferences. On Saturday, the worst (or maybe just the least experienced) refs do the games. The best refs are at the ACC, SEC, or other big conference school. This leads to more bad calls, which could influence who wins the game, and, in turn,  the conference titles. Since seeding has an impact on who wins the tournament, refs can play an impact on who goes to the tournament. Throw on top of that that the winner of the conference regular season title gets an automatic bid to the NIT if they do not win the conference tournament, and refs can have an impact on which school gets the most exposure and monetary benefit from college basketball.

Refs do not always have an impact on the outcome of the game, and I, in fact, think that it is often overrated. But it would help. Some.

The second point is more obvious. Coverage. Every conference has a media deal of some kind. Some with Fox. Some with ESPN. Some with other companies. Television is dying for the one thing that is DVR proof- live sporting events. To build up that inventory, mid-major conferences could provide more of it on a Friday night.

There is very little college basketball on Friday night. There is college basketball every other night of the week. The MAAC, Ivy, and occasionally a big conference (and maybe another one that I am forgetting) plays a game on Friday night.

I think every mid-major conference should start playing games on Friday night. Pick out two or three games for Friday night. Set up TV deals with whatever station to show a doubleheader (or tripleheader, if there is a West Coast conference involved) on Friday night. Make them wildcard games. The channels can pick whatever game they want from the selections. Two weeks out, the station can pick which two (or three games) they want to show from all the mid-major selections. The rest can be shown on-line (ESPN3? New Fox website? I don't know....) and provide a feeling of mid-major Friday night. There can be a limit on how many times a conference can appear on television, so that no one conference gets the biggest advantage from this.

An example: the SoCon could pick out Davidson's trip to Elon, along with Chattanooga's trip to Western Carolina that both could be happening on the same day. Two weeks before the game, ESPN could pick out one of those games to be on ESPN2 if there was not another game that ESPN preferred instead and set the game time for 7:00 PM.  That game would air, and provide great exposure for the SoCon, and the two schools involved on a Friday night. The other game could be on ESPN3 at 7:00 PM on a Friday night.

The drawbacks are few and far between. The biggest drawback is that Friday night is a big night for college kids to go out, so attendance may be hurt. However, that's a small problem to deal with. Saturday night is also a big night for college kids to go out. So moving games from Saturday to Friday will not kill attendance. What about out of town people trying to come to the games? How much does that happen at a mid-major level anyway? Not as much as we'd like to believe. I say this an out of towner who does not get to as many games as I'd like to for my team and would prefer games to be Saturday because it is easier to get to. I would gladly trade that for more coverage of mid-major basketball. For conferences that play on Thursday (like the SoCon), this would make it almost impossible. However, teams playing on Thursday could be pushed back to Monday or something like that.  What if the games were just pushed from Thursday to Friday? Their Saturday games could be pushed to Monday. It would not change much in terms of school time missed, I don't believe. There may be some other student athlete problems that I am not fully taking into account.

It is a simple thing, and yet, it would help provide coverage to mid-majors, live sporting events for Friday night and better officiating at the biggest mid-major games. I think this is a total winner for conferences.

If you have any other thoughts on this idea, feel free to share them with me in the comments section or through e-mail at