The official brackets for the NCAA Men’s Basketball tourney have been announced. I won’t bother to redraw them here – they should be all but unavoidable in other sources.
There is, as usual, great wailing and gnashing of teeth about who got in and who got snubbed. I don’t have an opinion about any of that. But there is little or no discussion about some of the worst features of the bracket. Gee, I can hardly wait for the big game between Virginia and U. Maryland Baltimore County. I’m glad it doesn’t conflict with Duke v. Iona, which should be a bark burner! Shades of Bambi v. Godzilla.
As promised, I made a hypothetical draw that avoids such silliness.
There are some tough draws in my hypothetical bracket. Virginia would probably face Kentucky in the third round – in the official bracket, that can’t happen until the fourth round. But unless your team got such a tough draw, it seems obvious to me, at least, that my tourney would be much more fun to watch than the official one. And it should also be more fun to play, at least for most teams.
Take U.M.B.C., which made a thrilling buzzer beater to upset Vermont and win their first trip to the “big dance” as champions of the America East Conference. What’s their prize? – they get to play number one Virginia. Don’t you think they’d rather play Georgia State, as they do in my draw. And don’t shed a tear for Virginia, either – they get an actual bye, rather than a virtual bye (thrashing U.M.B.C. in the second round).
I expect that there would be howls of protest if the NCAA decided to draw a more sensible bracket. But they wouldn’t last long. Some die-hard traditionalists might never forgive them, but everyone else, especially including the networks that get to broadcast better games more sensible distributed through the tourney, would quickly get used to the new pattern.