You have definitely heard it before: “Why doesn’t college football implement a tournament like March Madness? College basketball does it, right?” It seems as though everyone feels this way.
This way of thinking is completely backwards. March Madness is a terrible thing for college basketball. Don’t think I am saying that I am satisfied with the current college football playoff format. Even with the change to a four-team playoff in 2014, it will not be perfect. College football should just take the current system for choosing BCS bowl teams and make an eight-team tournament out of it. But that is beside the point. I’m saying the current college football format is better than college basketball’s beloved March Madness.
Sports are simple. The point of either playing or rooting for a team is to prove your team’s supremacy over all other teams. This process of deciding the best team is broken up into two parts: a regular season and a postseason. The regular season is used to show which teams can be great over a long period of time. Then these teams are rewarded by going to the postseason, and playing each other head-to-head to prove which team is the best.
It is most important that these two systems should be fairly integrated in a way that leaves the best team standing in the end. Now, it is true that college basketball has both of these integral parts. But it is the way that it handles the postseason that ruins the integrity of the game.
First off, way too many teams make the tournament. It’s just ridiculous. In any sport, every team that makes the postseason should have a chance to win it all.
This is not at all the case in college basketball. We all know that a 16-seed has absolutely no chance of winning the tournament. In fact, they don’t have a chance of winning a single game in the tournament. This makes the entire regular season meaningless for any team that actually does have a chance of winning it all.
Every year, the Duke University Blue Devils just coasts through the regular season because they know they are going to make the tournament. It’s pointless. This also takes away the excitement of watching teams fight to get into the tournament, because they have no chance of winning it.
The postseason should be reserved for only the very best. College football understands the importance of the regular season. One bad week can be the downfall of an entire season. This importance that college football places on the regular season is what makes the sport so great. Every game matters, and that can hardly be said for college basketball. Where did this obsession with one-and-done tournaments come from? Sure it is exciting for the fans, but it is completely unfair to the teams involved. One game does not prove which team is better. Even the Royals can occasionally beat the Yankees. The Heat sometimes lay an egg against the Cavaliers. The Patriots actually lost at home to the Cardinals this year. But no one would argue that the latter team is better than the former.
But a series does prove which team is better. The Yankees would never lose a seven-game series to the Royals. This is why all playoffs need a series format.
Unfortunately, it is impossible for football to implement a series format into its playoffs due to the brutal nature of the sport. Teams simply cannot handle playing that many games. But this is not the case in basketball. That is why professional basketball has a seven-game series format throughout its playoffs.
In basketball more than any other sport, officiating can completely swing any game. One badly officiated game should not be the end for a team that worked so hard all year. College basketball needs to implement at least a three-game series format into the tournament. Until then, the one-and-done style will not prove which team is the best, but rather which team received the most officiating breaks and good bounces in that one particular game.
Sure, we all love watching 20 games a day and seeing our brackets crash and burn. We all love seeing crazy upset after crazy upset. But this does not mean it is good for the sport. The competitive balance of the sport is completely thrown off.
Unfortunately, the only change I see coming in March Madness’s future is more teams being added to the tournament, adding to the already meaningless nature of the regular season.
While college football’s playoff format is receiving improvements, it appears college basketball will be forever doomed unless we all wake up from our ‘one-and-done tournament’ trance and realize the atrocity that is March Madness.