The 65 teams for the men’s NCAA basketball tournament are set. So today is more than St. Patrick’s Day; today is also that one day of the year when millions of folks whine about whom the Selection Committee screwed over. By tomorrow, all of that angst will be gone and forgotten as millions of folks shift their agonizing to which upset teams to take in their brackets.
Here in Curmudgeon Central, I don’t worry about who is in and who is out because if a team was left out of the tournament, there is one thing that is surely part of their résumé – - they have lost more than a few games. So, to all the righteously indignant fans and authorities who are sure that Whatsamatter U got the shaft, I say if Whatsamatter had just won three for four of the games they lost, they would be in the tournament. It is not the Selection Committee’s fault; it is the team’s fault.
For the last several years, my suggestion has been to select 96 teams for the NCAA tournament. Seed the top 32 teams and give them byes. Then play off teams numbered 33 through 96. Those winners constitute the field of 64 for the NCAA championship. Those losers constitute the field of 32 for the NIT.
I think my idea would save a lot of arguing. For the teams that are seeded in the “low-thirties” who think they deserved a bye, all they have to do is defeat a team seeded in the mid-nineties. If they cannot do that, then they surely did not deserve a bye. By the time you have 96 teams in the tournament, the ones that are not seeded will have to have either “losses in the teens” or a schedule that is laughably easy. Their cries will be muted at best. In addition, if the Selection Committee announced that a major factor in the seedings of a 96 team tournament for the ”Bottom-64” was “out-of-conference strength of schedule”, you might see a lot more of the “power conference” schools looking to schedule some of the top notch “mid-majors”.
If you go to the official website of the NCAA you will find that the NCAA has an online “Bracket Challenge” that you can enter. Of course, the NCAA decries the idea of any nexus between collegiate athletics and gambling, but they have decided that it is a good idea to put out a Bracket Challenge with some sponsorship on it. No one is going to print out that bracket and use it for his or her “office pool” of course. So, is this yet one more example of NCAA hypocrisy or is this the beginning of the NCAA withdrawing its head from the sand? I lean toward hypocrisy but you make the call…
Steve Simmons had a great comment in the Toronto Sun yesterday about the tournament:
“Winthrop is apparently going to the NCAA basketball tournament. Mortimer isn’t .”
Think about it for a while – - it will come to you…
Let me see if I managed to put all of this together properly. The Miami Heat have been awful all season. The Miami Heat traded away Shaq – - and his very expensive contract a month ago – - in what was probably a good long-term move. Then the team “shut down” Dwayne Wade for the rest of the season. Now Pat Riley doesn’t bother to show up for all of the games because he is out scouting players in college tournaments. Therefore, here is my question for Miami Heat season ticket holders:
How much of a rebate has the team offered you on the price of the seats for the rest of the season?
Another embarrassment of a franchise in the NBA would have to be the Knicks. Some folks wonder if the only reason people pay attention to the Knicks’ stinkitude is because they are in NYC and everything in NYC is covered in too much detail. I don’t think so. The Nets are in NYC too – or so close that it doesn’t matter – and no one cares if the Nets are good, bad, or indifferent as a franchise year after year. If being bad were what it took to get attention, everyone would know every detail about the Charlotte Bobcats’ franchise – - and no one does. I think there is something more at work here.
I think the Knicks are so horribly incompetent as an organization that people keep checking in on what they are doing to see just how they can dig themselves into a deeper hole. Despite the difficulty of doing that, the Knicks seem to find ways to do it on a fairly regular basis. If some day the Knicks ownership decides that it needs to find a way to punish Isiah Thomas for his central role in flushing that franchise into the septic tank, here is an idea:
1. Have him coach the NY Liberty in the WNBA.
2. Assign a lawyer to shadow the team members to find any sexual harassment charges anyone on the team might possibly find a way to file.
You knew that a minor league baseball team would come up with a promotional night in honor of the Eliot Spitzer matter. Here is the first one I’ve heard about. The Macon Music of the independent South Coast League will hold Eliot Spitzer night on 13 June. They will give away a “one night stand” at the Mayflower hotel in Washington DC and will offer reduced price tickets to anyone who has resigned from a job.
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald had a good Eliot Spitzer line yesterday:
“Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. will get $20 million to take part in WWE’s next Wrestlemania on March 30 in Orlando. I believe that makes Mayweather the highest-paid prostitute not associated with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.”
The Eliot Spitzer matter bothers me – - not because of its immorality or its tawdriness. I have come to expect all of that. What bothers me is that he reportedly paid about $4500 for a night with a prostitute and that makes me feel very, very old. I don’t have anything near $4500 worth of imagination anymore…
NASCAR races seem to have generated an upsurge in TV ratings this year. Even for the less prestigious races following the Daytona 500, ratings are up more than 9% this year compared to last year. Controversy is up too. Drivers are complaining about the tires; winning cars have failed inspection after the race; drivers are testy with one another already. So, that leads to a Quick Quiz:
In 250 words or less, which sport has more cheating/skullduggery, NASCAR or pro ‘rassling?
Extra Credit: Explain why “Snarlin’ “ Arlen Specter has not threatened to hold Senate hearings in the aftermath of driver Carl Edwards “losing” the cover on his oil tank somehow during one of the NASCAR races that he won.
Finally, Greg Cote had another cogent observation in yesterday’s Miami Herald:
“It’s ”Noche Latina” night at the Heat game as Miami joins the Lakers, Spurs and Suns as teams paying homage to significant Hispanic followings. Those four teams have something else in common. Three of them are really good.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…