There does not need to be 353 teams in Division 1 basketball. Let’s go on a journey and your old pal Sully is going to explain it all to you. The bloated amount of teams is absolute madness, and even with the wealth of basketball talent that currently walks the earth, you will never be able to fill 353 competitive rosters in college basketball, as you saw tonight with Houston Baptist. Here’s how everything gets fixed:
NCAA tournament goes to 48 teams and Division 1 basketball splits up into a football model of 1-A and 1-AA with 16 conferences in each. No longer are teams permitted to play other schools outside of these two sections (no D2 games). Splitting these divisions up is fairly simple, and will be based on the conference rankings we already have. Here’s what the division would’ve looked like last year.
So you are left with 179 teams in 1A and 174 teams in 1AA. It’s getting cooky, just stay with me! In Division 1A, conference tournaments are completely eliminated. If you win the regular season, you’re automatically in: 16 bids taken out of 48. (Why are we playing 31 games in a season when the season comes down to 3/4 days in a weekend for the overwhelming majority of division 1?) The regular season suddenly has meaning again. All of the teams who won their conference get a bye from the first round (think Thursday and Friday games). 16 teams automatically playing on Saturday or Sunday of opening weekend, simple. So how do we come up with the other 32?
In 1-AA, in the two weekends that used to be conference championship weeks, we have “mid-major tournament week.” As in, all 16 conference winners play back-to-back weekends (with the championship game just before the Selection Show on Sunday) for the chance to go dancing with the big boys. That’s team #17 out of 48.
Then, the First Four is abolished (no shade to Dayton, we would still get tournament games) and 31 at-large teams are carved out of the remaining 16 conferences in 1A. If you are .500 or below in conference play, you are ineligible. I’m sick of 9-9 teams getting in, no more of that. This would also incentivize teams in conferences 7-16 to play stronger schedules, so that they could be higher in the rankings at season’s end to get an at-large bid, which would mean more games played against each other.
Those 32 teams, with the mid-major champion, start the NCAA tournament in the way you’re accustomed to: on Thursday afternoon, and, by the end of Friday, you’re down to the same 32 teams headed into the weekend just like it is now — but they would all be better! You would ensure getting the strongest mid-major you could possibly find against the lowest 1A team to sneak in. Spare me your 14/15/16 seed upset talk. Eventually, those teams lose and the feel good stories dissipate quickly as they came. Wouldn’t it be just as good, if not better, if a SWAC team rattled off 3 in a row to go to the Mid Major Championship Sunday and upset a mid-major juggernaut like last year’s Wofford to go dancing? (And you would also see Wofford play in 3 more competitive games in March, as well, against other mid-major foes)
The year Loyola made their run, for example, they would’ve been firmly in the 1A picture in this scenario. So all those intrepid reporters could still discuss Sister Jean and avoid actually talking about basketball (which is what makes them happy anyway). The bottom 16 is the lowest of the low. The goal should always be to find the best teams to play in the tournament, not to give a field trip to the SWAC tourney champion who got hot for 3 days so they can lose by 30 to North Carolina.
Last rule for you soccer fans: the bottom two 1A conferences are relegated each year, and the top two 1AA conferences move up, giving all leagues on the fringe a reason to be competitive across the board. The only drawback I see to this entire plan, which I have been concocting for years, is that the mid-major champion would have to win four games before getting to the big dance. But you know what? They’re college kids! They can handle it. Ride the high!
When I watch games like tonight’s matchup between Houston Baptist against Dayton, my perfect hypothetical of March tournament basketball comes running back to the forefront of my mind, basically anything to escape actually watching the X’s and O’s of a glorified exhibition. And make no mistake, this was an exhibition that merely counted in the standings. Did Stephen F Austin beat Duke the other night? Sure! No one is eliminating those games, but that win by SFA isn’t helping them get into the current tournament anyways, it’s all for funsies.
If you disagree with my new tournament I came up with over the last few years…tough! I got the keyboard. If you have a better idea, the comments section is right down there for ya, hoss! Have at it.
Anyways, Dayton came out slower than a gay guy in Alabama, but the end result was never really in doubt. They played a completely lackadaisical first half and still went into the locker room up seven, then absolutely throttled the visiting Huskies to cover a mammoth 30½ point spread (HBU’s half-court shot gave gamblers the over, what a glorious wagering night) en route to 99 points. There is absolutely nothing to take away from this game other than UD taking HBU as lightly as I took this recap. Lots of people scored, lots of dudes were lazy in the first half, Dirt Road Johnson had a bunch of dunks. A walk-on dunked(!), and the rest of the non-scholarship ballers didn’t have the CHEST to throw up a shot while time was expiring. Fans were deprived of a 100-point total from the home team, babies wept across the Miami Valley.
I mailed in this content because we’re going to record another podcast this week with the official voice of the Gaels, Alex Jensen, and then I’m flying on the BR charter to Phoenix to watch the boys take on fellow mid-major St. Mary’s this weekend. I don’t have to prove anything to you people!
So simply put: the game was boring and it doesn’t need recapitulation. When you beat up your kid brother, you don’t go around bragging about it, you move on with your day until he comes back for more. There will surely be more Houston Baptist’s, even before this calendar year is over, that’s all I’m saying.
There’s a more important game on Sunday, a vital one, and the team has a day off tomorrow, so you do too. Come refreshed and ready to get #LOWD for a game that’s every bit as important as the contests in Maui.
Wear Red, be #LOWD