posted on: Thursday April 29, 2010
Dan McNamara ’13 / Sports Staff
My late grandfather would often tell me how much he could not stand Connecticut Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun. He would tell me, “He is a bad man, Danny.” Whether this hostility came from his love of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish or personal reasons, I was not sure. Despite the shots thrown at Coach Calhoun over the years, one thing is for certain: He knows his college basketball. He thought that tournament runs by Cornell, Northern Iowa, Xavier, and national runner-up Butler were enough to close the case on an expansion to 96 teams. “I have a tough time seeing why we have to change a concept that has been so good,” Calhoun told The Associated Press. “This year, the parity was incredible. If you have something that has become magical and what has enhanced it is not more games, but the Butlers and the parity. Those things are what have done it. George Mason. It’s been proven time and again.”Calhoun, along with Kansas’ Bill Self, and Davidson’s Bob McKillop, believe that President Obama’s slogan, “Change we can believe,” is not true for college basketball. Kansas has been a national powerhouse for years, and despite a shocking upset loss to Northern Iowa in the second round, they will be back for more to come. Everyone who knows college basketball knows Stephen Curry. They know how he shocked the Hoyas and Badgers, and nearly beat the eventual national champion Kansas Jayhawks all by his baby-faced lonesome. Davidson is not a power six conference team like Kansas. They do not have the pedigree of a Big East team and do not receive the “mid major” status (if there is one, anymore) that Butler and Gonzaga have. It says something about a team like Davidson when that team has to take advantage of every opportunity it has against RPI top 50 teams because its conference competition is so light.The 2010 Duke Blue Devils showed that you need a great “team” to win it all, not just players. Duke’s Coach Krzyzewski took a middle road on the issue of expansion. “With the addition of three more teams to the field, the basic structure of the tournament will not be impacted significantly in the foreseeable future,” said Coach K. “As a coach, I am very pleased with this result.”On April 22, the NCAA announced that the tournament will not expand to 96 schools, at least for now. At first glance, this seems great. CBS will not be out-bid by ESPN to show coverage of the games. It also implies that the NCAA has not completely lost its mind to money. But it has. For now, the NCAA will almost certainly select 68 schools to compete for the title in 2011. The Division I Men’s Basketball Committee unanimously recommended to the NCAA board of directors that the tournament expand to 68 teams. This recommendation is awaiting formal approval on April 29.What everyone wants to know is how will this 68 team system work out? The most logical method would be for the NCAA to create four more play-in games similar to the current system where two non-BCS No. 16 seeds compete. Here’s something to chew on, NCAA: Why not shut the mouth of Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg and give his Hokies a shot to prove they belong by having the eight final at-large schools play four play-in games in order to get the four No. 12 seeds?Since expanding to 65 teams nine years ago, the NCAA has forced the least of its low majors into the opening-round game. Four teams from the SWAC and the MEAC, three from the Big South, two each from the Northeast and the MAAC and one each from the Southland, Summit and Patriot leagues have appeared in the play-in game. And according to ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neill, “Every single one of [these teams] won a conference tournament title and yet every single one of them was shoved to the off-Broadway version of the Big Dance.”Although these changes will apply only to the men’s tournament, another NCAA committee is examining whether to alter the format of the women’s tournament. But that discussion is for another time and place. Until then, please, NCAA, stop the changes!