Monday, March 28, 2011

What if the NCAA tournament was like European soccer?

After today's elimination of Kansas, there are no outright champions from any conference in the Final Four. The question then becomes, what is the point of winning a conference, if a team that finished NINTH in their conference still has a chance to win the national title?
So what can be done to perhaps reward a team that is more successful in regular season rather than simply rewarding teams that do well late? What if there was a UEFA style tournament at the end of the season? What do I mean? Well, in Europe, there are two primary championship tournaments, the Champions League and the Europa Cup. We could do this, or something similar, in college basketball. Here is what I envision:
The Championship tournament involves the 32 regular season champions, seeded based on RPI (We are making the Great West a post season eligible conference now). Then, we would have the larger secondary tournament. I don't have a name for this. Entrants to the secondary tournament would be seeded somewhat based on RPI rankings as well. Here is how it works:
All conference tournament champions get entrance in the secondary tournament. In order to make this a 68 team tournament, we will also add teams based on their place in conference, so that conferences 1-6 get 4 teams (either the conference tournament champ and teams 2-4 or if the regular season champ or team 2-4 won the tournament, then simply teams 2-5), conference 7-10 get 3 teams and 10-20 get 2 and 20-32 get 1. Also, to keep conference tournaments honest, if a regular season champ wins the conference tournament, they will get placed in secondary tournament upon elimination from the Championship tournament. How?
This is another highlight from the Europeans that I love. The draw. Let's say Ohio State makes it to the round of 16 in the primary tournament, but loses (just like they did this year). They get thrown in to the third round of the secondary tournament. There wouldn't be brackets, but a seeded draw for competitors. There would definitely be pick 'ems for people to play. Anyways, the top seeded teams would be drawn to play lower seeded teams every round in the secondary tournament.
At the end of the tournament, of course, we have the two tournament champions play each other for the national title. A team that gets hot late has a chance to win a title, like Connecticut this year, but the champion of their conference, Pitt, has a distinct advantage by playing against a smaller field and playing fewer games. Also, there is no squabbling about snubs. Everyone knows their place in the tournament. So what is our field? First, let's get easy and talk about the entire Champions bracket, again based on RPI. Below are the matchups for round one. Again, this is a regular tournament:
Kansas vs Utah Valley State, Ohio State vs Bethune Cookman, BYU vs Texas Southern, North Carolina vs McNeese State, Florida vs Murray State, Pittsburgh vs Florida Atlantic, Utah State vs Coastal Carolina, Arizona vs Northern Colorado, Xavier vs Fairfield, George Mason vs Vermont, UAB vs Wisconsin- Milwaukee, Princeton vs Long Beach State, Missouri State vs Bucknell, St. Mary's vs Kent State, Belmont vs Long Island, Oakland vs Charleston.
The entrants for the secondary tournament are listed below. If the conference regular season winner also won the tournament, they are in parentheses as a potential entrant into the tournament. I will draw the first two rounds probably tomorrow, and inform you what they look like before I start the arduous task of simulating the tournament, as usual using WhatifSports to find who might be the national champ in this format.
Big East
Notre Dame, Syracuse, Louisville, Connecticut
Big Ten
Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois (Ohio State)
Big 12
Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Missouri (Kansas)
Mountain West
San Diego State, UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico
Duke, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson
Alabama, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Georgia (based on a head to head win over Mississippi State)
UCLA, Washington, USC
UTEP, Tulsa, Memphis
Temple, Richmond, Duquesne
Old Dominion, Hofstra, VCU
Butler, Cleveland State
Missouri Valley
Wichita State, Indiana State
Boise State, Idaho, (Utah State)
Gonzaga, San Francisco
Harvard, Yale (Princeton)
Iona, St. Peter's
East Tennessee State, Jacksonville (Belmont)
Quinnipiac, Robert Morris (Long Island)
Wofford, Western Carolina
Akron, Western Michigan
Oral Roberts (Oakland)
Big South
Sun Belt
Arkansas-Little Rock
Big Sky
Montana (Northern Colorado)
American (Bucknell)
Big West
UC-Santa Barbara
Ohio Valley
Morehead State
America East
Boston University
Texas-San Antonio
Alabama State
Great West
North Dakota.

Like I said, I will have the seedings for you all tomorrow. Doesn't this sound like a whole barrel of monkeys?

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