The Afternoon Extras: Two Reasons Not To Expand NCAA Tournament

The Afternoon Extras: Two Reasons Not To Expand NCAA Tournament

Eh, so here we have the Extras for Monday. They're a little late as you may have noticed, which is why we scrapped the morning portion and went with afternoon. We're clever like that around here. Anyway, with March Madness right around the corner, we thought we'd look at one of the major developments about the tournament and give our take on the matter. 

1. Watered down playoffs

Here's an experiment you can do at your own desk. Pull out your NCAA Tournament bracket. Read through the schools and count how many teams have zero shot at winning a National Championship. Whatever your own criteria is for determining which teams have no chance at all, that number will inevitably be 30 at the minimum, and I think that's being generous. Either way, we agree half the field already isn't qualified to be there.

So why expand? If all they're really denying these bubble teams is the opportunity to play a few extra, meaningless games, which should not be confused with competing to be number one, what is really the point? The first couple rounds are watered down already. There are always a handful classic upsets, and those are fun to watch, but the it's hard to argue the drama will still be there the first time Penn State defeats George Mason on a buzzer beater for the right to play top seeded North Carolina. Awesome!

And while we're on the topic of "bubble" teams, let's make it clear what that term mens exactly. They are the same as All Star "snubs" or athletes who belong in the "Hall of Great." People enjoy making lists, and once a list is completed, we need a list of the things that it could be argued should be on that list. Once we're finished picking 65 teams, everybody wants to know who was 66. That doesn't mean the entire structure of the tournament needs to be uprooted to accommodate Illinois. It's just human nature.

2. Complicated brackets

I don't follow college basketball too closely, so when it comes time to fill out my bracket, there are automatically a few schools I've never even heard of, let alone seen play. The whole process is a crapshoot for a casual fan. As soon as somebody hands me a sheet and there's twice as many games to pick, PEACE! Oh yeah, I could just guess like everybody else, but why bother at that point? At least if you hit the Power Ball, you never have to work again.

And if it's too complicated for me to undertake the arduous task of choosing names out of a hat, how is Betty at the office going to handle it? Imagine trying to explain to somebody who has never watched sports in their life what a bye is. In the unlikely event they figured it out, it's going to make the entire process feel more daunting than it used to be, causing some people to conclude it's not worth the effort, diminishing interest in the event overall.

Another set of the population they are alienating are the visually impaired. I happen to be blessed with incredible eyesight, so I can't really sympathize with those of you who wear reading glasses, but I would imagine it can be a nuisance squinting to view all the names on a piece paper that was printed by the 20-year-old copy machine at the office. It'll take a magnifying glass to fill that thing out.

In all seriousness, why mess with something that's as perfectly symmetrical as the tournament is? What could be more democratic than 64 teams ranked 1-64 (forget the play-in game) vying to be the last team standing? As soon as you add byes and change the formula for the sake of a few extra teams, you're taking the chance that unforeseen flaws will pop up, or it will alter the competition just enough that it's somehow not as fun.

The only benefit I see is more money is involved, which is why this will get pushed through no matter what the fans want.


7. Matt Stairs, now camping with the Padres, is one pinch hit home run away from tying the Major League record. Here's hoping the Phillies legend makes his mark on baseball history as well. [Yahoo! Sports]

6. The Sixers will fire their head coach, and maybe even their general manager, but the product on the court will not improve much or at all. Talk about stating the obvious. [CBS Sports]

5. Examining a realignment plan for Major League Baseball that would potentially separate the Yankees and the Red Sox, or perhaps even allow teams to change divisions based on their economical needs. How 'bout they just institute a salary cap? [St. Petersburg Times]

4. Andy Martino tells us Kyle Kendrick is doing the most important thing he can to regain the success he experienced in his rookie season: he's growing up. No doubt about that last part. By the way, give it up for another 4 innings of shutout ball on Sunday. [Inquirer]

3. Every Big East team has some flaws, and for Villanova, its their inability to defend. Given some of their recent performances and their lack of reliable scoring options, I'm not seeing a long stay in the tournament. Sorry. [Sporting News]

2. For once, spending didn't get the Cowboys in trouble. In preparation for an uncapped where player movement would be limited, Dallas came into the new league year leading the NFL in dollars committed to 2010. They have to be concerned somebody could steal Miles Austin though, who remains a restricted free agent. [Pro Football Talk]

1. Addressing the rumor that would swap Ryan Howard with Albert Pujols, which Ruben Amaro calls completely bogus for the record. What exactly would be the benefit for the Cardinals, who like the Phillies, would still need to negotiate a new deal after 2011. [Finger Food]


Flyers do get a chance for revenge though against the Rangers when they wrap up the season with a home & home against them. My bet is that the Flyers will have a real shoot to knock the Rangers out of the playoffs and that would be really sweet.

- MG


I expected a 3 for Nova and a 4 for Temple, considering the conferences they're in, but this shake-up shows just how much the weigh conference schedule and strength.

Nova did have the same record as last season, despite the rough finish against heavyweight competition (4 of those losses against top 3 seeds in the overall bracket), and they had a #3 seed last year.

Temple can't say the same about their schedule. Yea, yea...they beat Nova for once, but Fernandez doesn't go off if Redding is on him like glue.

Overall, Temple's seeding sucks in that bracket. Wisconsin, and Kentucky for possible 2nd/3rd game matchups? Not favorable. Nova has a real nice seeding in comparison, with a possible Duke rematch to decide the region.

May all Philly teams represent us well.

- Benjamin

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).