Don’t Meddle With March Madness

After all we’ve witnessed with conference realignment and the money grab that drove the changes, it should come as no surprise that a number of voices are now pushing an overhaul of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. Central to their cause is the elimination of automatic bids for conference champions.

“Let’s get rid of Robert Morris and Holy Cross and invite the 64 best teams in the country,” said one analyst.

Sure, let’s get rid of the most exciting tournament in sports, eliminate the little guys and keep all the money in the hand of the big conferences. Proponents of reform don’t actually want to eliminate the tournament, but they assume that we’d all rather watch the seventh-place ACC team instead of, say, Butler.

Having the little guys in the field is a big part of the magic and madness that make the tournament so riveting. And the possibility of participation keeps the so-called low-majors engaged all season.

We’ll all have to fight the big guys on this eventually. Their stance is simple. They spend on huge recruiting budgets and state-ofthe-art facilities, which are expensive, therefore they want all the money. But it’s way more fun to watch Belmont or Vermont chase their dreams and push a Kansas or a Duke to the limit.

This is one event in sports that does not need to be new and improved.