Monday, March 16, 2009
10, 12, 9, 6, 6, 4...
Do you know what that number sequence represents?
No, it's not some random Fibonacci series that I pulled out of my arse. It's the number of non-BCS conference (I say "BCS" for a reason, more on that later) teams that received at-large berths into the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament from 2003 to 2009.
Of the 34 at-large berths available, 30 went to programs from the six largest conferences, continuing a trend that has seen the number of mid-major schools in the tournament dwindle since the high-water mark earlier this decade. Mid-majors earned 10 at-large bids in 2003 and 12 in 2004. Since then, the number had fallen to nine, six and six before Sunday.The trend is pretty clear, isn't it?
The big conferences don't want teams like St. Mary's (26-6) getting into the field of 65, when it comes at the expense of mediocre BCS teams like Arizona (19-13).
Nobody likes the BCS in college football, and many bring up a playoff as a way to fix the situation. Meanwhile, the same six conferences that make up the BCS in football (Big 10, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Pac-Ten, Big East) have an absolute stranglehold over which teams get into the field of 65, which by the way, is only 65 because those same conferences didn't want to give up another at-large bid a few years ago.
It looks better, and it's a lot more fun, but don't forget that the same people who resist a playoff in college football are the same people who run the show in college basketball...
P.S. Memphis will win it all this year, while Kansas, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma will round out the Final Four...