The NCAA voted today to expand the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, but it’s not as bad as we would have thought. Initially, they were also considering a 96 or 80 team monstrosity that would have destroyed the fun of March Madness. It would have meant too many bad teams getting helped into the tournament and there would have been too many opening round byes to take the thing seriously.
What we’re getting instead is a much more reasonable 68 team field, which adds three more play-in games. In the 65 team format, two teams play for the chance to become the final #16 seed and play one of the #1 seeds; in the expanded tournament, there will now be eight total teams vying for the four #16 seeds. I think this infinitely more ideal than adding 31 more teams to the field and will allow a few more bubble teams to make it into the tournament. It might lower the bar somewhat when it comes to how good a team has to be to get into the tournament, but not anywhere near as much as a 96 team field would have. And instead of adding another round, all this does is essentially add to the first. However, I would now like to see something where teams that win their conference are guaranteed to not have to have to win a play-in game to get into the first round. Is it really an automatic bid to the tournament if you have to win another game to get into the first round?
Additionally, the NCAA now has a new TV deal with CBS and Turner Broadcasting worth $10.8 billion dollars that will go until 2024. Games will now be broadcast on CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV (whatever that is) and will allow every game to be shown live on TV for the first time ever. So for those of you who got tired of CBS switching back and forth between games so fast that it made you seasick, you’re in luck. For those of us without cable or satellite television, however, we just have to hope that CBS will still be able to steam all the games online on March Madness on Demand. I can’t say that I’m disappointed that Turner Broadcasting is involved, though, because they’ve always done a good job with sports, like the NBA on TNT or the MLB on TBS. And I would assume that the championship game (and probably the Final Four) will still be shown on CBS since it will be able to reach a broader audience.
Now please, NCAA, just keep it like it is. Don’t add any more teams!
I’m going to put this post on my own blog instead of on Celtics17 because Boston Celtics fans hate Joakim Noah because of his recent thoughts concerning Kevin Garnett. Actually, nobody outside of Chicago seems to like Noah. He was universally despised by student bodies around the SEC when he was in college at Florida and now he’s picked a fight with the entire city of Cleveland after talking about how
much fun crappy the city is.
“I don’t know about Cleveland, man. There’s nothing going on. It’s bad, man. It’s bad.”
What I get from that is that Cleveland is boring and can’t keep up with Noah’s extravagant lifestyle, which is fine…unless you’re from Cleveland. Cavaliers’ fans have responded by creatively chanting “Noah Sucks!” every time he touched the ball in Games 1 and 2. In Game 1, Noah had 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks in Chicago’s 96-83 loss. Afterward, he was asked if the booing bothered him, to which he responded:
What? That Cleveland sucks?
Guess not. In Game 2, Noah was once again booed heavely and chanted at, yet responded with strong 25 points and 13 rebounds as Chicago lost 112-102. Surely, after going down 0-2 in the series, he’s regretting his words, right? Wrong!
“Not at all. You like it? You think Cleveland’s cool? I never heard anybody say I’m going to Cleveland on vacation. What’s so good about Cleveland?”
So yeah, Joakim Noah is ruffling a lot of people’s feathers, but I like it. I don’t mind a guy talking a little trash if he can back it up and Noah has done just that. Instead of wilting under the scrutiny and lusty booing, he’s been one of the better performers for the Chicago Bulls behind Derrick Rose. And it’s not like he was a slouch to begin with, averaging 10 points and 11 rebounds and being on the fringe of becoming an All-Star this season. He doesn’t care what other people think, so he just goes out and plays his game. A lot of players couldn’t do that. And just look at him- he looks ridiculous with his long hair and mustache. That has to infuriate Cavs fans even more. It’s like he’s the bizarro version of Cleveland’s Anderson Varajao, except good at basketball. He’s also hooked everyone, as Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro points out:
“It gets you guys all riled up and he’s sitting back in there laughing and having fun with it.”
If he were talking all this trash and wasn’t backing it up, then it would be totally lame. Why isn’t anyone else into this? This is fun! This is exactly what the NBA needs to make it less dull!
So I say keep it up, Joakim Noah. Without your remarks, the series between the Cavaliers and Bulls would be boring and totally unremarkable.
Stu Scott says the NBA’s regular season matters because a team that beats another team at least 3 times in the regular season usually beats that same team in the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder are about to play the first game of their series and the Lakers won 3 of the 4 games they played during the regular season, which is why he would even bring up such a stat to begin with. Now I’m confused, because when the Lakers were on a three-game losing streak in the regular season, everyone was saying the regular season doesn’t matter and that they would still get to the NBA Finals regardless of such mid-season struggles. Huh?
The college basketball championship game was nearly a week ago and I said nothing about it. OOPS! I feel bad about it, but I had two tests this week that I spent a lot of time studying for, so adding a blog post was the least of my worries. Anyway, here’s the conclusion to this tournament’s free-throw watch:
#5 Butler lost to #1 Duke 71-69 and missed five free-throws, going 13-18 from the line (72%). Duke shot 10-17 (59%).
In all, I count 24 teams that would have won at least one more game if they had just hit their foul shots. Without looking at the stats I kept last year, I’m pretty confident that more teams lost because of free-throws during this season’s tournament.
So that’s it. I really enjoyed this year’s tournament and I’m sure everyone else did as well. Honestly, I think this was one of the best tournaments ever- there were lots of upsets and the level of play was at it’s best. The first day was especially great, and I doubt we’ll ever see a day full of basketball that will top it. And it’s fitting that this tournament would be so much fun to watch because the corporate whore that is the NCAA is likely going to expand the tournament to 96 teams. That’s way too many teams and it means that teams like North Carolina, UCLA, and Indiana are always going to be in the tournament despite having crappy seasons like they did this season. And those teams are traditional basketball powers too, so hooray for the NCAA on that one. Personally, I think they should just have four play-in games for the #16 seeds and play them at Madison Square Garden, or something like that. Other than that, I would do nothing to the tournament because it’s great the way it is. And now I leave you with this video about how to shoot free-throws correctly, as demonstrated by Larry Bird.