I have a bit of a beef with the NCAA Tournament that has nothing to do with me losing two of my final four teams in the second round. Honestly, my New Mexico logic was proved valid after Stanford topped the Kansas Jayhawks by being too much for them inside. I just forgot that NM had to first beat Stanford before beating Kansas.
And really there have been a number of very exciting finishes to tournament games this year, including the half dozen overtime matches. Many more double-digit seeds advanced than I was expecting as well. The aforementioned Stanford Cardinal worked their way through to the Sweet Sixteen…just to face off against another double-digit seed in the Dayton Flyers.
And who doesn’t love a good early Duke loss!
But back to my complaints. Is it just me (it might be just me) or has this NCAA Tournament seemed highly unwatchable? Now let me explain.
The games themselves have been terribly exciting and tense. Games have come down to the wire, gone to overtime and been won on buzzer beaters. That’s all well and good except the literal basketball being played in many of these games has been very bad. More obnoxiously, the refereeing in many of the contests has been even worse. Lastly, the coaching is getting out of hand. In what situation is it seriously necessary to call four consecutive timeouts on four consecutive whistles at the end of a game? Are your players really that stupid that they can’t remember what you wanted them to do 30 seconds ago??
The painfulness of the ends of these games is tempered a bit in the first three rounds by being able to change the channel to a different game, which is just a delightful option. However, this is the biggest and best basketball tournament in the world. Why are the games so bad?
Teams can’t make free throws; officials still don’t know what’s a charge and what’s a block; there have been more camera shots of exasperated players with their hands held out and a baffled look on their face during rounds two and three than there have been in the entire history of the San Antonio Spurs. (This is Tim Duncan’s move. I think he tried to patent it.)
One game essentially ended on a flop four-point play where the ref got hustled into calling the foul. Another went on for hours and hours as one team’s lead dwindled because they continually missed free throw after free throw. And let’s not forget the clock issues and ‘official reviews’ of plays that slowed down every game, even the ones threatening to move smoothly.
How long until the NCAA creates a rule to fine players for flopping by taking away scholarship money and making someone drop a class they can no longer afford? I think it would be a nice improvement for the game.
Well, someone has been enjoying a bit too much of the NBA this season. I’m not sure if you got caught up in the sheer number of things that annoyed you, but the basketball product being put forth in the NCAA tournament is just as great and annoyingly horrible as its ever been.
March Madness is great because nationally unknown schools like Dayton get a chance to steal the country’s attention for a few weeks. The flip side to having small schools up against traditional powerhouses is that a lot of non NBA caliber players will be competing with one another. Games get awkward when you throw in raw talent here or there. Now lets play sixteen games in one day and see if you can find enough officials to be perfect on national television. You’re whole argument is narrow minded. The NCAA tournament has always been unwatchable from a pure basketball standpoint and freethrow shooting has always been way too important in the last minute of games.
All that being said, this year does feel painful to watch. I can forgive almost every gripe you put forth except one that you only hinted at. These games are too long and too slow. Yes, yes, the end of March Madness games have always been dragged out by fouls and poor freethrow shooting. But this past weekend felt never ending at times. The only games that moved with any kind of pacing and flow were the second half of blowouts, like Virginia over Memphis.
Enough griping, this year’s tournament has been a ton of fun! It feels completely unhinged, with a few power teams floating amongst a sea of potential upstarts. Here are the seeds left in the sweet sixteen:
1 vs 4 (chalk) and 11 vs 10
1 vs 4 (chalk) and 6 vs 2
1 vs 4 (chalk) and 3 vs 7
8 vs 4 (—–) and 11 vs 2
Not a single region is all chalk. Two regions have three chalk teams and two regions have only two. What really excites me is outside of the top four seeds in each region (the chalk teams), we find every remaining team ranked higher than a five seed. Two elevens, a ten, a six, seven, and an eight. That’s the parity we all know and love. The other glaring stat is that all four of our four seeds have advanced. It seems the pre-tournament notion of the dominant four was accurate.