Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Every year when the bracket is complete there seems to only be about 5 teams thazt actually play in there region. Then with the new system opening week games for the 'East' somehow could end up being played in California or Colorado. All in all it seems like a lot of efforting to simply make the tournament seeded appropriately. So my question is is it truly worth it? Is all this maneuvering and reorganizing of seeds and where opening games are played worth it? What would the bracket have looked like if they had truly organized teams within their region, rather than by the so called 'snake' ranking system.
So let me just quickly run through how the regions were organized. I ran through and grouped all schools first by there state location. This way I could pool all teams from a given state in a given region. Next I organized the states into their associated region as closely as possible. For instance Connecticut in the East, California in the West, etc. The following are the state breakdowns per region:
West: California (6), Oregon (2), Washington (2), Oklahoma (2), Arizona (1), Idaho (1), Nevada (1), Utah (1)
East: Pennsylvania (4), Maryland (3), North Carolina (3), DC (2), New York (2), Connecticut (1), Virginia (1)
Midwest: Indiana (4), Kentucky (3), Wisconsin (2), Ohio (2), Kansas (2), West Virginia (1), Iowa (1), Michigan (1)
South: Tennessee (5), Texas (4), South Carolina (2), Mississippi (2), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Arkansas (1), Alabama (1)
For the most part the brackets align quite smoothly when organized in this fashion. The only exception being the West didn't have an abundance of teams and thus Oklahoma. more of a Midwestern state, was lumped in the West. The South has 17 teams and thus was assigned the play-in game. So let's do a quick breakdown of the regions to see just how much worse if at all the matchups would be.
The West region lacks depth. The majority of the reason is that only one BCS conference truly sits in the West while other regions can lay claim to several schools from a multitude of BCS conferences. Thus when the rankings are complete the Pac 10 holds over the top 4 seeds followed by the the 'West' school of Oklahoma. The last portion of the regional includes the typical assortment of 16, 15, and 14 seeds.
Games in Anaheim, CA
1. UCLA vs. 16. Portland State
8. UNLV vs. 9. Oregon
5. Oklahoma vs. 12. San Diego
4. USC vs. 13. Oral Roberts
Games in Denver, CO
6. Gonzaga vs. 11. Arizona
3. Washington State vs. 14. Boise State
7. BYU vs. 10. St. Mary's
2. Stanford vs. 15. Cal State Fullerton
For all the talk of the East being the mecha of basketball this region is a little underwhelming. Sure it's strong at the top with UNC, G-Town, Duke,, Pitt and UConn, but then there is a major drop off. Cinderella Davidson would have wound up a 6 seed, which certainly would have dulled the story some. After that you have basically Philadelphia and then the bottom of the regional consists of a whole lot of very very bad teams. The East would make an interesting bracket after the 1st day but most likely the first day would be incredibly boring.
Games in Raleigh, NC
1. North Carolina vs. 16. Coppin State
8. Temple vs. 9. Villanova
5. Connecticut vs. 12. Cornell
4. Pittsburgh vs. 13. UMBC
Games in Washington D.C.
6. Davidson vs. 11. Siena
3. Duke vs. 14. American
7. St. Joseph's vs. 10. George Mason
2. Georgetown vs. 15. Mt. St. Mary's
The Midwest is actually the power area for the world of college basketball. After Kansas the Midwest lacks a current #2 seed but includes 3 of the #3 seeds and 3 of the #5 seeds. The depth doesn't stop there with it going all the way to #16 where Western Kentucky a sweet 16 seed would have been seeded. And just how sweet would a matchup between Kentucky who would have been the #15 seed vs. Louisville the #2 seed have been. This would be one incredible bracket to watch from round 1 to its conclusion.
Games in Omaha, NE
1. Kansas vs. 16. Western Kentucky
8. Marquette vs. 9. Purdue
5. Notre Dame vs. 12. Indiana
4. Xavier vs. 13. Kent State
Games in Little Rock, AR
6. Michigan State vs. 11. West Virginia
3. Wisconsin vs. 14. Kansas State
7. Drake vs. 10. Butler
2. Louisville vs. 15. Kentucky
The South regional consists of a variety of conferences. It includes teams from the SEC, ACC, and the Texas schools of the Big 12. Thus the top seeds of the bracket includes two 2 seeds in Texas and Tennessee as well as Final Four team Memphis. This bracket is probably the closest bracket to the typical 1-16 seeded bracket with most teams falling on or 1 spot away from their actual 2008 seed.
Games in Birmingham, AL
1. Memphis vs. Play-In Game: Mississippi Valley State vs. Texas Arlington
8. Texas A&M vs. 9. Arkansas
5. Clemson vs. 12. Winthrop
4. Vanderbilt vs. 13. Georgia
Games in Tampa, FL
6. Miami (FL) vs. 11. Baylor
3. Texas vs. 14. Belmont
7. Mississippi State vs. 10. South Alabama
2. Tennessee vs. 15. Austin Peay
Benefits vs. Negatives
Benefits: Eliminates the dumb POD system, Reduces Unnecessary Cross Country Travel, Creates a True Regional Champion, Final Four Always includes a team from each region of the country
Negatives: Regionals will Never Have Equal Talent, Creates Several Early Round Rematches, Eliminates the Opportunities for Certain Conferences to Dominate
Obviously this will never happen but I don't think it is nearly as bad as I initially thought it would be. In this years situation all the Final 4 teams were the 1 seeds of their actual bracket and would have remained the #1 seeds if the bracket was conducted as such.
The biggest problem of this bracket is obviously the distribution of talent. But isn't that a problem that typically comes up every year regardless? How could anyone have made the case this year that the West Regional had an equal amount of talent as the other regionals? This would make the distribution of talent worse, but its still a controversy we have every year, and would it be that much of a bad thing to get a stacked bracket where almost all of the regions games were competitive?
To me the negatives of teams playing each other again could also be construed as a benefit. For instance you could get additional rivalry games in the tournament each year rather than hoping that Tennessee and Memphis make the finals for Memphis to avenge their one loss this season. Plus by distributing the teams in this fashion each region would always be represented in the Final 4. Never would there be a Final Four consisting of 3 ACC teams and 1 team from the Big East. That way there would be interest around the country for the Final 4. Plus, the fans that attend the games within their region will be more likely to get teams they actually know and care about, rather than going to a game in Denver and watching Clemson or Vandy.
In the end we all know that this will never happen, but honestly I don't think it would negatively effect the tournament that much.
Breakdown of How This Tourney Would Have Gone