You know being that I do go to church when I'm actually in town on a Sunday and don't have a game (an increasingly rare occurrence these days), I'm kind of an Easter fan. I remember getting a new goalie stick one Easter that was a complete shock. I remember getting a chocolate bunny in a New York Mets jersey (I could only eat the ears) and I remember the year my birthday fell on Easter, and we celebrated with a big cookout with my friends.
But nowadays....I don't look forward to Easter. Sure, I could say it was because my 14-year old got Easter Egg dye all over the counter and had to bleach it out (and no I wasn't home for this), or it could be because I'm not a fan of Cadbury Eggs. But no, I hate Easter because of one thing...Peeps. Yes, those peeps up there in the photo... those disgusting, ugly, heinous things that pass as Easter goodness. Why do those things get resurrected every April? I have had a weird aversion to them since I was a kid...I hate them...look at them...they are so creepy. This borders on how much I get sick at the sight of a bowl of cereal with milk (wifey handled the breakfast for the kids, thanks).
Anyways...people, especially my family, know I hate those things....so what did I find on my desk this morning? Peeps. In my phone (not on....in)? Peeps. On my computer? Peeps. In my drawer? Peeps. I'm scared to go to the bathroom right now. How can I thank for this besides my daughter? Well...Jeff Tingey signed the giant poster that they also left in my office, so I think I know my daughter's accomplice. I do enjoy working here! OK, onto some real stuff.
I'm guessing that Brad might touch on this more, but this whole tournament expending to 96 teams looks like a done deal, and it's sparking plenty of debate. ESPN's Dana O'Neill has a great piece on why it's a monumentally stupid idea. There's plenty of arguments either way, but before I get to the one I want to talk about (which NO ONE IS MENTIONING), let's talk about why this is going to happen.
See, that was easy, wasn't it? Now, far be it from me to give the NCAA grief about expanding the tournament and maybe opting out of their mega-billion dollar contract with CBS during a massive recession, but let's look at how this will absolutely murder the smaller school conference such as say, oh , I don't know....the Big Sky.
Right now, there are 65 teams in the tournament, and 64 games, but the NCAA grants what they call a unit to 63 games, as the two play-in game winners don't receive a unit for that game, only for winning and advancing into the field of 64. Never mind that the play-in game contains two teams that automatically earned entry into the tournament field and the play-in game should have the final two at-large teams trying to play their way into the tournament (and yes Utah State, I'm looking at you).
Anyways, a unit is defined as a game, and a unit carries over for six years, so let's take this year. Montana played in one game, and was credited with one unit (well, the Big Sky gets it). The Big Sky has six units from one team in the tournament for the past six years, plus we are still getting a unit because of Montana's win a few years back over Nevada, so we have seven units. Each unit gets assigned a dollar amount based on the NCAA Tournament (last figure I saw was $152,000 per year, so one unit equals about $912,000 over the course of six years. That money is divided equally among the conference teams usually (it is in the Big Sky).
Now let's look at the Big Ten. They had Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, and Wisconsin all make it, so that's five units. But Michigan State played in four games and will play in five, Purdue three, Ohio State three, Wisconisn two and Minnesota one. The Big Ten actually gets credited with 14 units this year. that's $2,1 million kids....or 13 times more than what the Big Sky got (Michigan State can get to six units, but not seven...there is no bonus unit for winning the title).
Now...let's say the tournament expands to 96. How are we paying this out? Even though the contract is bigger, the payments per unit might be slightly smaller per unit since there are more units (96 instead of 64). Now, this doesn't affect the big conferences, because they will be the leagues supplying most of the teams to get the field to 96. ESPN's Joe Lunardi said that if the tournament this year was a field of 96, 13 Big East teams would make the tournament. What's funny is like two years ago only 12 teams qualified for the Big East Tournament. Brilliant.
So a league now like the Big Ten...instead of getting 14 units this year, might get 17 or 19 units...and how do you ignore the units for the 32 teams with a first round bye? You have to pay them, otherwise teams will prefer to be a 9-seed, kick some 24-seeds butt, and get the payout for the conference while the 8-seed sits on their thumbs.
But all of that...that's not my argument to why this is dumb. My argument is because you are fundamentally changing the tournament, and making it SO MUCH TOUGHER for the bigger schools. You don't believe me? Let's look at Montana from this past year.
The Grizzlies were a 14 seed. Now, people keep assuming that when you add these other 32 teams (31...forgot the playin fiasco), that they will be the bottom 32 teams...but there is no way that will happen. Those 32 teams will push the 14, 15, and 16 seeds currently all the way down to the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th seeds. So Montana, instead of opening against #3 New Mexico, will get to play the #11 seed instead, who would be one of the first teams out (probably a Dayton or Rhode Island or Illinois). Then the winner of that game will face off against the #6 seed, say Notre Dame. Seems a little easier for the #22 seed than the old way as the #14 seed, no?
But what about the #1 seed....Duke. How much tougher is it for the Blue Devils. Well, they get a bye, but that's not Arkansas-Pine Bluff or Winthrop waiting for them as the #16 seed, because they are now the #24 seed and getting eliminated by the #9 seed. Now, Duke now gets the winner of the #16/#17 game, probably a team like Memphis or South Florida. Not quite the same as Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but hey, they are only playing once that first weekend anyways.
And yes, they are going to have the same opening weekend, meaning the first Thursday and Friday are 16 games, and Saturday and Sunday are 16 games. then the second round will start on Tuesday, meaning teams will play Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Wednesday, Friday, Sunday. Say you are the #9 seed like Northern Iowa...here's a potential schedule.
Tues., March 16, travel to first round site
Wed., March 17, practice day at opening rounds site
Thurs., March 18, Opening Round game (#9 vs. #24)
Fri., March 19, practice day at opening rounds site
Sat., March 20, Round of 64 game (#9 vs. #8), fly back home late after the game to Cedar Rapids, do laundry in a hurry
Sun., March 21, Fly to Second week site
Mon., March 22, practice day at second week site
Tues., March 23, Round of 32 game (#9 vs. #1) .. think UNI beats Kansas with this schedule? Let's say they do....
Wed., March 24, practice day at second week site
Thurs., March 25, Sweet 16 game (who knows who they are playing at this point)
Fri., March 26, practice day at second week site
Sat., March 27, Elite 8 game
Sun., March 28, Fly home
Now, is the NCAA serious? Really? This is your schedule for STUDENT-ATHLETES. And you still want to hold schools to an APR standard?
Other arguments I've heard is that it will help coaches keep jobs, which I don't think will happen...I think more coaches will lose jobs (AD to coach: You couldn't make it in a 96 team field? Really?)
Also...Um...Mr. NCAA...the ladies would like to know about their tournament. You know, the whole gender equity thing. The NCAA has said it's not about money, but that many of their tournaments have expanded, and the men's tournament doesn't have a solid enough percentage of teams making the postseason tournament. Well guess what...the women have the same amount of teams, so I guess you better expand theirs too, or someone somewhere will have themselves the world's easiest lawsuit to win.
Or they could keep the greatest tournament in America the way it is. What do I know...
Football Might Not Practice Today....
John Zamberlin just came down to inform me that due to the expected weather, they might cancel practice. Watch the main site for that information.
Speaking of football, Channel 6 has a new sports anchor in Matt Gittins, and if you go here and click on the 3/30/10 sportscast, you can see him and his first report on Bengal football. I honestly hadn't watched any local news lately since I've been catching up on my DVR stuff (LOST/FlashForward/V/Survivor/The Office/Family Guy/The Marriage Ref ... I've been gone, can you tell?), but he's pretty good...I think you guys will like him. Scott Bemis and Alyssa Chin had a pair of stories with Coach Z previewing spring ball, and a nice piece on Phil Earley.
Heck, even I tried a rudimentary hand at a video report.
And of course, you can keep up with Kelvin Ang and his spring practice musings, as he is at all the practices.
This blog was a long one, but everyone enjoy your Easter! Softball and track and tennis all have events so watch the main page for the information...and do not send me any more Peeps...seriously, I have enough here.
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