Ah yes!! We are just about 13 hours before the tip-off of the NCAA Tournament beginning with BYU and Florida in the 7-10 matchup. Like last year, and the 25+ years before that, March Madness has definitely been the one of the best, if not the best, sporting event on earth. There is intrigue in every region of the country. Every ball player I know or fan of sports in general, lives to watch the NCAA Tournament. And for some reason, I believe that this Tournament will add some flare for several reasons:
1. Loaded Midwest Region: With Kansas being the No. 1 overall seed, they were not given any favors because of it. They are really going to earn their way to Nap Town with the potential lineups that await them. With the variety of great coaches (Tom Izzo, Gary Williams, JT III, and Thad Matta) and great players (G. V. of Maryland, James Anderson, Greg Monroe, Adam Koch, and Evan Turner). This will be a region to keep an eye on, and to see if the Kansas can survive it.
2. The different Non-power conference matchup in the first round: I don't know if this was purposely done but the committee is subtly killing non-Big 6 teams' chance of getting pass the second round. UTEP-Butler, Cornell-Temple, UNLV-Northern Iowa, and Richmond-St. Mary's come to mind. Essentially, four teams of those teams will be elimminated by Saturday. That's crazy! It will be interesting to see how many Sweet Sixteen teams come out of this group, if any at all.
3. Big East Repeat or Big 12 Beginning?: Last year we saw half of the Final Four and half of the Elite Eight teams to be from the Big East. That's really good depth. However, like the Big East, the Big 12 have a chance to play deja vu this year as well. Kansas, Kansas St., Baylor, and even Texas A&M can try to repeat what the Big East has done a year ago. Georgetown, West Virginia, Villanova, and Syracuse form nice depth from the Big East in NCAA Tourney as well.
Although, some of teams that I really love and follow like UConn, UCLA, and Illinois aren't in the Tournament, I am won't be a buzz kill. I still want to see some good basketball, and they just didn't cut it this year. However, I am still excited to see how things will unfold. Will the young Wildcats make it to the Final Four? Will Duke restore itself as Final Four threat again? Will Sherron Collins end his career with two national titles? Will Purdue even get out of the first round?! These questions and so many more will be answered in a few short weeks.
And this is evidence enough to suggest that the NCAA Tournament is fine the way it is, and if we want it to be something way less than what it is currently, than by all means expand the tournament. Money isn't everything; don't believe me, just see the ratings of the NCAA Tournament this weekend. And you will see why we don't need it!
Enjoy the Madness!