UNC vs. Duke Rivalry Je Buffalo Bulls Jerseysrseys Getty ImagesIn the spirit of Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey’s desire to take a “fresh look” at March Madness, here are some items we might be able to improve if we try really, really hard:* The Grand Canyon* Stephen Curry’s
UNC vs. Duke Rivalry Jerseys

Greg Sankey

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In the spirit of Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey’s desire to take a “fresh look” at March Madness, here are some items we might be able to improve if we try really, really hard:

* The Grand Canyon

* Stephen Curry’s jumpshot

* Michelangelo’s “David”

* The Eiffel Tower

* Hamilton

You probably have encountered a few other examples of perfection, though not many. And just as you would not put a Steak ’n Shake on the South Rim or have Alexander Hamilton survive Aaron Burr’s pistol shot for the sole purpose of staging Hamilton II and making another mint, you better have a doggone good reason to fool with the NCAA Tournament. 

Is it the 2021-22 BYU Cougars? If the NCAA Tournament were t College Cold Weather shirt o expand to 80 teams, as Sankey hinted in an interview last week with Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde, such a team would be fighting for an at-large bid.

The Cougars played eight games against teams that reached the NCAAs. They lost six of them. They lost four more times to teams that did not make the field. They averaged a No. 60 ranking in the results-based metrics the committee has on the team sheet that represented their at-large resume and a No. 64 ranking in the predictive metrics. Does that sound like a team the NCAA Tournament absolutely must have?

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Sankey’s support of an expanded field was justified, Alfred University Saxons shirt first, with the experience of the Ole Miss baseball team. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that he would use an example from another sport, a sport whose form and format are entirely different. Ole Miss was considered to be the last team into the NCAA Division I baseball championship and yet won the College World Series. 

“If the last team in can win the national championship, and they’re in the 30s or 40s from an RPI or NET standpoint, is our approach supporting national championship competition?” Sankey said to SI.

Seriously. He said this. So are we to presume, say, the 17th-best team in college football would have a reasonable shot to survive a four-round tournament and win the CFP? Because last year, that was Wake Forest. Who thinks the Deacs would have beaten Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan and Georgia inside a single month?

Of course that comparison is not germane to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. And neither is whatever happens in the College World Series. The seventh-best gymnast in the entire world has no chance to beat Simone Biles on her best day. The worst team in Major League Baseball can win a series against the best, as the Washington Nationals did to the LA Dodgers just a couple weeks back. It’s insulting to college basketball to assume what occurs in another sport applies.

Since the introduction of the First Four in 2011, two teams that were among the last selected and forced to play that extra game went on to reach the Final Four: 2011 VCU and 2021 UCLA. And it's risky to draw any conclusions about the Bruins' experience during the pandemic. In a typical year, they might have been much higher on the bracket.

In that period, only n Colorado School of Mines Orediggers Jerseys ine high-major teams that Arizona State Sun Devils shirt were double-digit seeds advanced to the Sweet 16, only two to the Elite Eight and two to the Final Four. None won the national championship. There is no significant risk a potential champion is being excluded.

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We can’t even get the fifth-best college football team on the field in a legitimate postseason tournament, and he’s worried about the 69th college hoops team.

There is a concern among some of those involved in expanding high-major leagues about getting enough of their teams involved in March Madness, but the simple answer to this is playing better basketball against better opposition. 

In 2018, the Big Ten Conference placed just four of its Arkansas Tech Jerseys 14 members into the 68-team field. The following year, the league increased its regular-season schedule to 20 games, which eliminated some of the poorer non-conference opponents from teams’ schedules.

Enhanced performance led the Big Ten to improve from the No. 5 RPI league in 2018 to No. 2 in 2019, and the number of NCAA bids doubled to eight. Had the 2020 NCAA Tournament been contested, the Bracket Matrix composite of online brackets suggests there would have been 10 Big Ten teams in the field. The 2021 and 2022 tournaments each contained nine Big Ten entrants. In 2011, during the period that last contained a 16-team high-major league, the Big East placed 11 of its 16 members into the field.

Smarter scheduling and better performance has led the SEC to in Army Black Knights Jerseys crease its number of bids from an average of 3.6 from 2012-16 to 6.4 from 2017-22. There won’t be room for nine or 10 bids from every power conference, but that’s why they play the games. If the SEC earns them, they’ll be celebrating on Selection Sunday.

On the final projected bracket I presented to Fox Sports in advance of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, 67 of the teams wound up in the official field chosen by the selection committee. Given that the standard is to identify the teams that wind up playing in March Madness, I got one wrong. I had Texas A&M in the field rather than Notre Dame.

In a sense, though, it might have been the committee’s error.

Because of the 211 tournament projections gathered by the Bracket Matrix – some compiled for such media companies as ESPN, CBS, The Athletic and Sports Illustrated and some that are not high-profile – 200 selected the Aggies. Know how many had Notre Dame? Would you believe 74?

The truth, however, is the most recent edition of Madness would have been wonderful with either or neither. The identity of the 68th team has minimal influence on what makes the tournament great, but the competition to become that team is an essential ingredient to invigorating the regular season.

Sankey’s Texas vs. Oklahoma Rivalry Jerseys suggestion would rob the college basketball world of that suspense. Last season Xavier entered February with a 15-5 record and every reason to believe it would compete for the NCAA championship. The Musketeers lost seven of their next 10 games and entered the Big East Tournament in obvious need of a v NCAA Crewneck Sweatshirts ictory over a poor Butler team to have a shot at realizing what once seemed inevitable. They managed to lose in overtime. 

In an 80-team universe, that game would not have mattered in the least. A significant NCAA Tournament expansion would not make March more compelling or valuable, but it would diminish the regular season. There’s no way that benefits this sport.

To say Texas A&M should have been in the 2022 tournament can be taken a couple ways. Because the Aggies were 15-2 at one point, then lost nine of 10 games, including five defeats at home and three against non-tournament teams. Their extraordinary 7-1 finish ought to have gotten them into the field, in my opinion and those of 199 other bracket analysts, but that dreadful February left the decision up to the selection committee. The committee is composed of people, and people make mistakes.

Sa WVU vs. Pitt Rivalry Gear nkey made one here.

It should be left at that.

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