Evaluating the proposed NCAA tourney tweaks

Andy Katz had a piece on ESPN.com today discussing some proposed rules changes relating to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Since the NCAA doesn’t always have the greatest of track records in choosing and implementing these types of changes, we thought it would be a good idea to review what they’re considering and give the proposals a letter grade.

Tweak 1: Protect the true seed. The basic idea at play here is that the “true seed”, or the spot on the seed list where a team is actually ranked, is getting negatively impacted by the bracketing principles that the committee uses, which are supposed to prevent regular-season rematches from occurring before the Sweet 16. If they are actually going to protect teams’ seed lines, then good — I think the rematch avoidance principle is going to be harder and harder to implement anyway, with the rise of the mega-conferences. A few second or third round rematches are not a big deal, and may actually increase interest in the early stages of the tournament.

A couple of other items from the write-up of this first proposal – in the spirit of HoopsHD contributor Kyle Lamb, everyone needs to cease with this insistence on saying BYU “can’t” play on Sundays. Wrong, they choose not to. Big difference. The massacring of the bracketing process on behalf of a religious preference is rather odd, considering the lack of consideration of so many other variables that exist for other teams.

Second, I think it’s interesting that the committee is happy to recognize the 32 automatic bids now, with the AAC and the Big East both getting one. I seem to recall several occasions where conferences that split (like the Mountain West when it divested from the WAC) were forced to go through a waiting period where they had no automatic bid. Always hilarious to see the hypocrisy of the cartel in action.

Tweak grade: A


Tweak 2: Family Consideration. Here’s a rare sign of intelligence – considering family travel issues when scheduling teams thousands of miles away from their natural regions. Of course, it’s not an actual proposal, just something that’s going to be discussed, and go through the NCAA legislature, where it will almost certainly die. Because that’s what happens to intelligent proposals at the NCAA.

Tweak grade: A. Chances of tweak happening: F-


Tweak 3: Arenas for regionals. The idea here is that domed stadiums aren’t nearly intimate enough to create the atmosphere needed for high-level basketball during the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. This is common sense, is it not? I’ve been to games in both arenas and domes, and frankly, even Final Fours in domes tend to be antiseptic and lifeless. For half the fans, the floor is too far away to ever feel like you’re a part of the action, and the massive amount of open air and unused space ensures that you never get the vibe of being at a college game. Yes, when you have a matchup between passionate fanbases, things can get exciting in a dome (we saw that for Kentucky-Indiana in 2012, among other times), but those matchups are impossible to preordain. In this proposal, the domes wouldn’t be locked out, but for all intents and purposes they’d be aiming future sites at arenas. I cannot think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t support this.

Tweak grade: A+


Tweak 4: Fan experience. This proposal is very light on actual explanation by Mr. Katz, but apparently the committee wants to change or alter the seating configuration for fans. Look, guys…if the game’s in a dome, you’re going to struggle with arranging people. The idea of putting students close to the floor is a good one, but also problematic depending on the distance of the teams from the regional site. Are you going to sacrifice high-priced seats just to maintain a student block?

Tweak grade: C


Tweak 5: Tournament leadership. Is this a “tweak”? I don’t see anything that would qualify. Although I do think it’s hilarious that the NCAA is transitioning from Bobinski, who by all accounts has been an excellent chairman and a good overall leader, to Wellman, who actually chose to hire Jeff Bzdelik as a head basketball coach. That fact alone should cause people some serious concerns.

Tweak grade: If the tweak is Wellman taking over, then D-.

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