Before you build that better mousetrap, decide what kind of rodent you want to catch.

At first glance, this seems contrarian:

With a field of 65 teams — possibly growing soon to 96 — the NCAA tournament might feel like more of a crapshoot than a fair method of selecting the nation’s best college-basketball team. But it turns out that it has a better chance of coronating the best regular-season team than the NFL’s 12-team playoff does.

Because

… the NFL — which has just 32 teams overall, fewer than half the number of teams in the NCAA tournament field — might seem to have a far easier time seeing its best flourish. Also, NFL playoff games before the Super Bowl are played at the field of the higher-seeded team, which usually is the better team.

So how to explain this?  Two reasons:

But football games include far fewer possessions than basketball games, meaning that the superior team has fewer chances to assert its superiority. And the best college hoops teams usually get top seeds, so they get relatively easy early-round games…

both of which would suggest that if your primary consideration in designing a D-1 college football postseason is to have the best teams playing for the title, then you want as small a playoff field as is credible (i.e., eliminate the Auburn 2004 scenario).  That, of course, is not the same thing as settling it on the field, letting Cinderella mess with your brackets, funneling more money to every school in the Mountain West Conference, etc. – so other people’s mileage may vary.

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6 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

6 responses to “Before you build that better mousetrap, decide what kind of rodent you want to catch.

  1. Geronimo Jackson

    Are you saying Butler is a Cinderella? Considering they’ve made four straight tournaments, three Sweet Sixteens in the last seven years, and won 22 straight games, I would have to disagree. Instead, they are the perfect example of a team that would never get the chance to “prove itself on the field” under any of your ideal postseason scenarios.

    But hey, determining a champion is not as important as undermining the regular season, right?

    • Puffdawg

      you can’t compare football to basketball. they are two totally differents sports. ;)

    • Instead, they are the perfect example of a team that would never get the chance to “prove itself on the field” under any of your ideal postseason scenarios.

      If that’s the ideal you believe college football should pursue in structuring a playoff, more power to you. That would necessitate a tourney field of approximately 20 schools, right?

  2. NM

    Butler is a 5-seed. That means the committee ranked them, at best, #17 in the country. Not exactly a George Mason-style Cinderella, but what exactly have they done to justify having them “prove it on the field”? Rampaging the Horizon League is something, I guess, but so is losing to UAB.

    I agree that Butler has been a strong program, and in basketball, a 5-seed is pretty respectable. But isn’t the approximate football equivalent something like:
    “Considering they’ve made four straight bowl games, won three bowls in the last seven years, and gone 11-1 this year in the MAC…”

    Color me unimpressed.

  3. Dawgaholic

    Just watch what happens to Butler tonight against a healthy top seeded team.