Ever since the NCAA tournament brackets for 2010 were released on Sunday, I kept reading a complaint that too many mid-majors were playing each other. The argument is that the beauty of the tourney is watching the little guys knock off the big guys, seeing David slay Goliath. Moreover, the feeling is that the tourney wants bigger-name schools to advance, presumably to draw better ratings. I think all you have to do is examine the tournament field and you can tell that this complaint is utter nonsense and nothing other than complaining for the sake of complaining, likely because you were going to complain about this “issue” regardless of what brackets the committee spit out.
Out of the field of 65, 33 teams are “mid-majors,” which I classify as non-BCS schools. Inevitably, these schools will have to face each other. Moreover, if you’re rewarding the smaller-schools for having good seasons, then you have to give them a high seed, and they will accordingly be matched up with another small school. That’s what happened with New Mexico, Temple, Butler, and Xavier. Drop those teams down in seeding and then you’re really being unfair, but at least you get a mid-major against a BCS school, right? Pointing out the few mid-major vs. mid-major matchups also ignores the several other cases where mid-majors play BCS schools in the first round. So Gonzaga playing Florida State, Xavier getting Minnesota, Notre Dame drawing Old Dominion, BYU getting Florida, Houston drawing Maryland, and San Diego State having a chance to upset Tennessee means nothing? There are several more cases where mid-majors have a chance to upset a BCS school than vice versa.
Out of the 32 first-round games, 22 are BCS vs. mid-majors, five BCS vs. BCS games, and five mids vs. mids. The only matchups I can really see a legit complaint for are the 7-10 game of Richmond/St. Mary’s and the 8-9 game of UNLV/Northern Iowa. I don’t see two games out of 32 being a trend, nor problem, nor something worthy of a complaint. If anything, I think it’s good to have a few mids-vs.-mids games to ensure at least one mid moves on. Moreover, I like seeing the 8-9, 7-10 BCS vs. BCS games because it allows us the chance to compare the strength of conferences. Who doesn’t look at Cal vs. Louisville as the Pac-10 against the Big East and the Oklahoma State against Georgia Tech as the Big 12 vs. the ACC? That’s part of the beauty of the tournament, too.
Dear Non-BCS Schools: $!#@ You. Love, NCAA [Basketball Prospectus]