Tourney should supersize us

FACEOFF

Should More Mid-majors Receive Ncaa Tournament Bids?

March 17, 2009|By BILL ORDINE

Sorry, but if I want to watch San Diego State or Saint Mary's or especially Creighton play basketball, I'd subscribe to ESPN MiniU or whoever carries those games.

On Moaning Monday, the day after national semi-holiday Selection Sunday, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth concerning overlooked mid-majors who failed to get at-large bids to the Big Dance. Just four of the 34 at-large berths went to the mids, with the rest going to the big guys from the six largest conferences. But let's take note: Maryland was one of those iffy major conference teams.

Of course, this reaction needs a little context. As recently as 2004, reportedly 12 at-large bids went to mid-majors, so naturally it's a jolt to their collective system to be snubbed as they were Sunday.

But look at one of the teams consigned to the National Invitation Tournament. Creighton went 26-7, but that was mainly at the expense of the Indiana States and the Missouri States of the world. In its Missouri Valley tournament, Creighton was stomped by Illinois State by 24.

And, on the business side of this thing, who is more likely to pull fans to far-off Round 1 games, Creighton with 6,700 students or a major bubble team, such as Maryland, with an enrollment six or more times larger?

Certainly, it's fun to have David go up against Goliath and watch runs like at-large George Mason going to the Final Four as it did three years ago, but come Thursday, there will be plenty of Radfords and Binghamtons (conference champions) and Daytons and Butlers (at-larges) to go around if underdogs are your thing.

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