The NCAA hoops tournaments, both men's and women's, always take over the sports world this time of year in this country. From President Obama all the way down to yours truly, the lowliest laborer, it seems bracketology is everywhere.
March is the perfect time for it. The NBA and NHL haven't started their playoffs yet, major league baseball teams are still in spring training, and the NFL? -- well, there's an off season and then maybe there's a REAL off season. Nobody much cares about golf until all the heavyweights show up at Augusta for the Masters' tourney in a couple weeks, NASCAR anymore doesn't get interesting until their "chase" in the fall, nothing's going on in tennis, and nothing EVER goes on in soccer, at least in this country.
Despite all the attention and as terrific as the NCAA tournaments are, there's still a few things that don't seem quite right.
For instance, on the men's side, why is it that Duke and North Carolina, perennial powers, always seem to play in -- hello -- North Carolina during the first round? How come they don't get shipped to a different region of the country like most every other team? Would the results have been different had Oakland University played Texas, and UM played Duke at the Palace in Auburn Hills? Maybe.
The women's side is even worse. A prime example would be the Lady Huskies of UConn. They hosted a regional on their home court. Love them or hate them, especially their coach, few would argue if they're not the best team in the country, they're certainly in the top 2 or 3. Who was the President the last time they lost on their home court anyway? It's not fair to the other teams. Personally, I highly respect what that program has become, but tell me Storrs, Connecticut was the only venue available, and I'll tell you you might want to lighten up on whatever it is you're smoking.
Then there's Pat Summitt of Tennessee. She won't play Geno Auriemma of UConn anymore. Some say she thinks he cheated. Others say she just doesn't like him. I surmise she's used to her Lady Volunteers being winners and doesn't like the possibility of her squad getting blistered by Geno's on national TV. Besides, conference requirements notwithstanding, coaches shoudn't be able to set their own schedules anyway. That should be left to others with more objective points of view. Nobody cares about powerhouses destroying inferior opponents by 50 points. If they think they're good -- then play somebody good and prove it. It's not like UTenn and UConn just popped up this year as dominant programs. They've both been around for a while, and the way the recruiting ball rolls, will likely stay around for some time. So why not play each other and swap home courts every year? Cat-fighting aside -- you know -- for the fans?
Back to the bigger picture. There's ways to make it better.
The sites are chosen in advance, but why not tweak the "seeding" so no team gets to play in their home state, let alone their home arena for the first 2 rounds.
When it comes to the regionals and different sites, reshuffle the seeding deck. If at all possible keep teams out of their home states yet again. At that point, seeding doesn't matter anyway. Ask Pittsburgh about that. And don't tell me about last minute air-fare changes being expensive because those fans can't book them anyway until they know their team got that far.
But there's a better solution. Build a super-complex somewhere that will accomodate all this every year, and negate any home turf advantage.
I think India would be perfect. Crazy idea, you say?
There's lot of good reasons for this.
More about that next time.