The NCAA Basketball Tournament technically gets underway tonight in glorious Dayton, Ohio when the first two “first four” games take place.
These games are bad, and are insanely unfair to half of the team who are forced to play in them.
My biggest problem is that these games rob small schools of the trip to the actual NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 that they earned.
Mount St. Mary’s, New Orleans, North Carolina Central, and UC-Davis won their conference tournaments, and with it the right to an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Seriously, if you win your conference, you are exempt from the play-in games, no matter your record. You shouldn’t have to play-in to anything when you earn your spot in the tournament by claiming your league’s automatic bid. That’s crap.
But instead of getting to gravel to Buffalo, Tulsa, Salt Lake City, or Indianapolis for a legit showdown against basketball powers and the chance to be the first 16-seed to beat at No. 1, they get to play in front of a half-empty arena in Dayton as the warm-up act for the type of teams who should be in these games.
Oh, and the game is on TruTV which gets 98% of it’s viewership this week thanks to basketball.
Kansas State, Wake Forest, Providence and USC are the exact type of teams that should be in these games. Teams who didn’t win their league and were on the bubble for a spot in the field of 64.
You want to make these games more exciting? Put teams like Syracuse or Iowa in them. Both think they probably had a case to make the tournament, and both are big names that people want to watch, so make them slug it out for a spot in the tournament, not four schools who actually do belong there.
But more than anything, these games just feel like a gimmick. Like the NCAA made these up just as a cash grab, and also probably a way to get two small teams out of the way quickly, so they don’t take a spot from a team that brings in more fans or TV viewers.
Anyway, these games are bad, but I’ll be watching. Here are my picks for the games:
New Orleans over Mt. Saint Mary’s; Kansas State over Wake Forest
NC Central over UC Davis; USC over Providence