Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ladies hoops. The fix is in

Their male college counterparts get much more attention and hype, but the ladies are slugging it out in March Madness too. Yet something seems drastically amiss. The venues where the games are played, particularly in the early rounds.

It's almost unheard of for a boy's team to get a game in their home arena once the tournament starts. Maybe in one close to home, but not HOME home. Pure logistics dictates the various arenas for these contests have to be selected far in advance so they can prepare for what will be coming their way. Various teams wind up placed in various regions around the country to fill out the bracket, and the TV folks need a bit of advance notice to set up their gear. It's almost a crap shoot. Nobody knows who's going where to play whoever else until the almighty "selection committee" has weighed in at the last second. But the venues themselves were locked in beforehand.

Not so in the girls' version, and the apparent fix runs very deep if one takes a close look at it. True, unlike the men, where upsets can and do happen, and even an "underdog" can win a championship, the women typically have a pecking order of haves and mostly have nots. Most years there's only 2 or 3 teams that are legitimate contenders to win the title. This year is no different. But as far as the "fix" being in, take a closer look at the bracket.

While it may not be totally surprising teams such as UConn, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Baylor wound up the #1 seeds in their respective regions, it hardly seems fair that all four got to play their first two games in their home arenas. Sound a little fishy? It gets worse.

Consider the #2 seeds. Texas had it's first two game in Austin. Arizona State in Tempe. Maryland in College Park, and Oregon State in Corvallis, Oregon. All their own home arenas as well.

And worse yet...

#3 seeds Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, and UCLA played their first two games in -- yep -- you guessed it -- Louisville, Lexington, Columbus and Los Angeles. Of these "top 12 teams" only Maryland failed to advance.

Something is very wrong with this picture. As in the chicken and the egg -- which came first? Deciding on the venues, or seeding the top teams accordingly so they could play at home? Either it's at the very least grossly unfair in a competitive way regarding a "national" tournament, or at worst more corrupt than Washington politics.

Ah heck. It probably doesn't matter anyway. Chances are, nobody's going to beat Geno's Bambinos of UConn this year, regardless of where the games are played.

But upon closer inspection, it still doesn't make the current system any more palatable. Look at it this way -- if the top 3 seeds in the 4 men's brackets somehow mysteriously all wound up playing their first two NCAA dances in their home arenas -- the media would go berserk crying foul. There would probably be a Congressional investigation. All kinds of hell to pay. Such a scenario would never EVER pass muster. Heads would roll, and rightly so.

Yet it seems to happen every year lately with the women and nobody seems to notice or care.

Maybe that's why they tuck their games away on an obscure cable channel while the boys are trumpeted to the heavens in every way possible by the media.

It's just not right.....

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