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 (

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