The debate surrounding the contemplated expansion of March Madness to 96 teams has produced lame and questionable reasoning by the bushel. One of my favorite arguments raised in support of adding 32 schools to the mix is that on a percentage basis, the basketball postseason isn’t nearly as diluted as football’s. You know, like this:
Currently, 18 percent of the Division 1 teams get into the NCAA Tournament and another 9 percent receive invites to the NIT. That’s way below the number of teams that get postseason berths in football: 68 of Division 1-A’s 120 teams go to bowls, or 56 percent.
Is it really necessary to point out that only two college football teams play for a (mythical) national title in the postseason, while 65 basketball teams enter the tourney with a shot at the championship? If you want to analogize the bowls to the NIT, that’s certainly more reasonable, but if you’re seriously comparing the size of the two postseasons as a whole, either you’re making the bowl games more significant than they are for the most part, or you’re admitting that the first round of March Madness is little more than a glorified exhibition…
Since the inception of the 64-team tournament in 1985, each seed-pairing has played a total of 100 first-round games.
- The #1 seed has beaten the #16 seed all 100 times (100%).
- The #2 seed has beaten the #15 seed 96 times (96%).
- The #3 seed has beaten the #14 seed 85 times (85%).
- The #4 seed has beaten the #13 seed 79 times (79%).
- The #5 seed has beaten the #12 seed 66 times (66%).
- The #6 seed has beaten the #11 seed 69 times (69%).
- The #7 seed has beaten the #10 seed 61 times (61%).
- The #8 seed has beaten the #9 seed 46 times (46%).
… which may explain this comment from Billy Donovan.
“If you ever got an eight-team playoff in college football, there would be some people still saying that the bowl system was the best,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan. “People would argue that the regular season in college basketball would be diminished by expanding the tournament field, but I’d like to see more kids get a chance to experience the NCAA Tournament.”
Of course, you could just say screw it to any attempt at logic and go someplace totally off the wall with this.
One of the beauties of the tournament is the select field that participates in it every season. Unlike the bowl system, which rewards mediocrity, only those teams that excel qualify for the tournament.
Excel? I can’t believe it bears repeating, but it’s March Madness that allows teams with losing regular season records to compete for a national championship. How ’bout those 1999 Rattlers!