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New Rules for March Madness

With March Madness beginning today (okay, cough cough, it began Tuesday, cough cough), I’ve decided I have a few problems with the current/new selection system for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. So, in honor of Bill Maher, here are my “New Rules” for March Madness:

1. To get into the tournament, you must win at least 20 games (or win your conference tournament).

This year, the Big 10 has 7 bids into the tournament. (That’s 7 out of 11, do the math). Three of those teams won 19 games (Illinois, Penn State, and Michigan State). I don’t understand this. Four teams can be deserving, but 7?

The tournament now features 68 teams out of the 334 (or so) total in Division I Basketball. Why can’t there be some exclusivity involved? And is it too much to ask for a tournament to require all teams to win at least 20 games?

By the way, I’m all for the “bid stealing” possibility of the conference tournaments. If you win your conference tournament, you’re in.

2. The Tournament will award no more than five bids per conference into the tournament.

This year, the Big East has 11 bids into the tournament. That’s 16% to one conference. There are 32 conferences in Division I Basketball. I understand that the Big East is a fabulous basketball conference, but it doesn’t deserve 16% of the raffle tickets to the prize.

Do the math. 32 conferences, each with two bids, makes 64. I know that isn’t realistic, but limiting the “power conferences” to five bids make the at-large field a bit more interesting and diverse.

3. Either do the “First Four” (Play-in) games right, or don’t do them at all.

Tuesday’s Clemson/UAB “play-in” game featured two “12″-seeds. If they’re good enough to be 12-seeds, then PUT THEM IN THE TOURNAMENT OUTRIGHT.

When the tournament was 65 teams, the Play-In Game between the 64th and 65th teams was to decide who the last 16-seed was. If you’re going to have 8 teams duke it out for the right to get into the tournament, have them competing for the four 16-seeds!

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Here’s the message that would send: “You want in bad enough? Here’s your chance to play for the opportunity to get blitzed by a #1 seed.”

Hey, who knows, maybe a 16-seed over 1-seed is possible in that new arrangement.

If you don’t want it that way, go back to 64 teams and send those guys to the NIT.

4. TruTV? Right. Keep the games on a channel people know to find.

I was watching the Tuesday night “Play-In” games, but only after it took me 10 minutes to find TruTV on my cable dial. The HD quality was poor (and I’ve always been a fan of CBS, TNT, and TBS’ quality there), and it was just ridiculous to have to go that deep to find the games.

I’ve always been frustrated by CBS’ lack of showing the right games at the right time, but with the combination of online and TV, I’m not sure TruTV is necessary. TNT and TBS are common cable channels.

Rule of thumb: Make it easy to find your product at all times.

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What rules would you add? Do you agree or disagree with mine?

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