First of all, congratulations Morehead State! Yesterday you were a fantasyland in the dreams of every man, and today you’re in the NCAA Tournament. But here’s the kicker — you won your conference tournament, and yet you still had to play another game to actually get into the Big Dance. Arizona, Wisconsin and Dayton … they’re in and had to do nothing. Forget about Morehead State; what is Alabama State thinking right now?
While I definitely don’t believe that either of those play-in teams could beat any of the other at-large teams that I mentioned above, what’s right is right and they earned the opportunity to be included.
Even teams like Coppin Stare (’08) and Oakland (’05), who both had losing records, earned their spot because they both won their conference tournament. Like Kurtis Blow said, “These are the breaks — break it up, break it up, break it up, breakdown.”
Last week in the Dime office we kicked around some ideas about how we could solve this problem, of teams whose “automatic” bid wasn’t so automatic. AK was talking about having the play-in game be between the last at-large team to get in and the first team out; so in this year’s field, something like Arizona vs. St. Mary’s, or Dayton vs. Providence. The winner would receive a 12-seed or a 13-seed, and the problem would be solved.
Agreed, but let’s take this one step further because we all know there’s always more than one team who gets snubbed.
What if the play-in game became the play-in tournament? Let’s not go crazy, but let’s say four teams. This year we could go with Arizona, Providence, St. Mary’s and Creighton. The four teams would travel to the city where the No. 1 overall seed is playing, just like the current set-up, and would compete in a mini-tournament for that final spot, a 12-seed or 13-seed.
First of all, people would be 100 percent more inclined to watch these games as opposed to Alabama State/Morehead State. And second of all, it solves all the snub debates. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. What about that fifth team? Listen, there’s always going to be another snub waiting in line to cash in their check, but at some point you have to draw the line. Penn State and Auburn, you let Ohio State and Mississippi State win your respective conference tournaments. If you cared about getting in, you wouldn’t have let that happen. So therefore, it’s not my problem!
(On another note, don’t be surprised when Western Kentucky makes their second straight Sweet 16 appearance. Illinois and Gonzaga shouldn’t be a problem for a team that beat Louisville by 14 earlier this year. Yeah, that really happened!)