Is March Maddness a Sham?

  • Banned

    Ever had those moments where you know what you want to say, but not quite sure how to put it into words? Well thats where I"m at.

    I look at College basketball as a special part of my fandom. I love me some Royals, and I love me some Chiefs. I even have some growing love for Sporting KC. Yet College basketball and the Jayhawks are my bread and butter. I just spend way to much of my time caring and loving KU and what they are doing.

    Having said all that, I’ve begun to question the intergity of College Basketball and how it crowns a Champion. I know I sound like that guy after his team loses he wants to change the rules. Yet I’ve been kind of wreslting with this issue for awhile.

    I get that everybody loves an upset. And what better than a OAD tournament? Yet does the current system really crown a true champion? It just seems so criminal to send a team home who played the best of the best in the noncon, and then runs threw a power 5 conference, Only to be sent home because one team got hot for one night. or got saddled with officials that call a tighter game than they are used too.

    Unlike Football and soccer. In basketball one player can change the whole game even for just one night. It just seems so unfair. Is this Socialism at it’s best? A way to level the playing field? To give that lesser team a chance for one night?

    You might say it’s not the NC that matters it’s the body of work that counts? Does it though? Winning the NC seems to mean everything. The winning Coach gets a new contract. The winning school gets a boom in recruiting. The Players on the winning team climb in draft boards. Hey they are champions. Donors pump in more money to keep the winning train rolling. So winning the NC seems to be alot, and means even more than the body of work.

    Kind of crazy to think that so much good would come from winning a crap shot tournament.

    So the question is how do you win this OAD tournament. Maybe UK and Duke aren’t so wrong with selling their souls for the OAD’s? If it all it takes is one player to have a great game to advance his team. Then why not fill your team with superstars? It would increase your odds of having that one player going off. Put in a basic concept of basetball for the team and then lay the ball at the feet of your superstars.

    I don’t know? I’m just rambling.

  • @DoubleDD everything is as it should be. Big Blue Soulless and the Puke Blue WeEvils can sell their souls. The world can valuate differently than us. Let’s cherish our victories and learn from our defeats. And when again we win it all, let’s pause a moment to savor how sweet it is, not because winning is easy, but because it is hard.

  • @DoubleDD I’m guilty of the standard simplification: The NCAA Tournament is a crap shoot. But I have grown aware that the matter deserves much more serious introspection, inspection and review. The crap shoot aspect involves match-ups, and yes, officiating. Sites of games, injuries, player suspensions, family untimely tragedies affecting players or coaches; just a host of pinpoint happenings occurring during tournament time. It is unfortunate that really solid teams and players can experience cold shooting performances at a time when so much lies on the line. Then out of the blue freshman Cole Aldrich pops off the bench to help shut down an upper class opponent who has just won honors as National POY. Sudden tears, sudden smiles. Go figure!

  • @DoubleDD Yes, a thousand times yes! If college basketball crowned their champion like college football does, we’d have multiple national championships just in this millenium, let alone the 90’s and even 80’s.

    I’ve maintained for years that the ncaa football champion is the purest champion in all of sports. Before the playoff, they’d choose the top two teams. Now sometimes there was some debate if one team or another should have been playing, but generally we were confident the two best teams were playing. Even with the four team playoff, we’ve seen some good champions, but interestingly, OSU doesn’t win the championship several years ago if it was just the top two teams playing because they weren’t.

    Now if college hoops were like NCAA football, we’re playing for the championship or the final four if you will, this season, last season, the previous season. I like our chances to win one of those four team tourneys. 2011, 2010 no VCU and NIU to knock off our top seeded teams. I think 2007 we were a top seed. I can’t keep going back but to the obvious ones, 1998, top seed, 97 top seed, 94 top seed, 90 top seed. All of those would be final four years if there was a college style four team playoff.

    But thing is we love the wild and wacky tournament even as we hate the frequent times it ends in disappointment.

  • It is its own unique animal - and it is kind of outside the normal season.

    The goal of any team is to win games, and win its “division” and to qualify for some sort of post season play. But there are 68 frigging teams that qualify for the big dance and it is of course a SINGLE GAME ELIMINATION affair, so yes you are correct, does the “best” college team win the NCAA ? Not really…

    if KU gets by Oregon (and I’m guessing say 7 times out of 10 playing them they would beat them) do they beat NC? Who knows? Does gonzaga beat NC in a 3 out of 5? I like their odds to do that. Bill Walton, a veteran of many NCAA tourneys, when asked repeatedly who he liked to win the tourney this year refused to pick anybody and just said over and over "it comes down to how you play that given night " damn straight.

    They are college kids, not seasoned pros, and there really isn’t a magic formula.

    Years ago I made my peace with the tourney. For me It does not define the whole season or the whole achievement of any given KU squad… it is fun, painful, a carnival ride and a combination of skill, luck, and timing, but not representative of the big amalgam of the identity of a given team.

    the season has 4 sections basically - pre-conference, conference play, the b12 tourney then the big crazy NCAA roulette wheel. I LOVE the conference play - it is intense and we get to play teams twice over the course of 2 months, so we really get a sense of our teams strengths and weaknesses, then senior night !! Seeing 4 year players tear up on senior night is what I love about KU b-ball … seriously. I feel connected to them and the whole program and the specialness of it all.

    Or we could load up with a revolving door of OADS and TADS and maybe win some more NCAA championships … you pick what you would rather have.

  • Banned


    It’s hard to pick as the NC seems to mean so much.

    Yet I feel what you’re saying. Thanks.

    I just feel such an injustice. This years KU team was bad to the bone. So sad to see it end on a bad shooting night.

    I don’t know. I’m just rambling.

  • Banned


    You should change your post name to @TheWiseONe.

  • I’m not sure there is a way to vastly improve where D1 ball is today (concerning the NCAA tourney).

    Imagine we kept the bracketology like it is now, except making the Final Four a grouping of best of 3 games. Now… we have changed the Final Four from needing to win two games to possibly needing to win 6 games. That in itself would make it a lot tougher on the athletes. Most teams are pretty worn out in March as it is… and are just operating on adrenaline.

    I feel certain that only the top blue blood programs would support a “best of 3” Final Four… because it would heavily favor blue bloods. The emphasis would be put on depth more than just having a better team with emphasis on starting 5. It would also be harder for a team to just get hot and beat a better team… another key component for lessor teams having a chance to win it all.

    The harder we make it on lessor teams winning it all, the more we rig up college basketball to favor the blue bloods. I’m definitely against that even though Kansas might benefit in a playoff “best of” system.

    As unfair as it seems for teams like us to fight hard and beat so many great teams all year, only to have a hiccup in March, we have to realize that our sacrificial loss provides a gain for the college game itself.

    I believe our unhappiness in March relates to us not quite matching success with just a few other blue bloods. I don’t think we should fret long about this. Look at our basketball program overall, beyond just March, and understand how many improvements we are making around our program that is only going to help our future.

    College basketball success is a migration… not a game or two, which is only a random situation.

    No other program is making so many big steps that we are making. If we have a weakness, it may be our conference… but that is just a “maybe” because we have many positive aspects in our conference, too.

    As tough as it is to have patience… it is what we need to do. I keep telling myself that… trying to keep realistic.

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    I have to believe that Coach will find his success in March Madness. He’s to good not too.

    OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH but man I’m getting weak hanging on until it happens. .

    Yet that doesn’t change my point. I’m afraid the NCAA Tournament is more about money than it’s about crowning a true champion. I’m truly convinced a OAD tournament is a sham when crowning a true champion. Just look at the 16 seeds? There is a reason they haven’t won a game in this so called fair way of crowing a true champion tournament. Hell the play in games would be undefeated against these 16 seed teams. like I said I get the upset factor but this OAD tournament doesn’t offer a true champion. No it offers viewers watching the games. Which means money.

  • @DoubleDD Not at all man. Great contribution for a topic & even better responses. I’m there with ya on all the positives of winning the dance & the spoils then granted to the victor. But I’m also there with @Bosthawk too, in that I’ve pretty much made my peace with this tourney ending so bluntly on the wings of a loss. But I also have to come clean & admit these E8 losses are tough for me to swallow & especially this year with the POY & virtually the top pick in the draft. What a crapshoot it really is with 67 other teams & a single elimination scenario in that not even the best 68 teams are in the damn thing to start. I seriously doubt if many KU fans doubt that TCU was not one of the best 68teams in CBB or if, God love him, Franks Gamecocks, were a top 4 team either. I would much rather see 4 regional play in tournaments followed up by a leaner & meaner national tourney of about 32 of the best of the regionals after sorting through the wardrobe for some of the best there are to offer.

  • @DoubleDD

    I am with you on frustration. I had a heck of a time coming on here after our loss and posting like a human. I wanted to rip some arse… basically everyone except Frank.

    Frustration is a part of attraction. We all have a huge attraction for March Madness. We tune out just about everything else and focus on the prize. As we get sucked in deeper, the frustration levels grow along with everything else.

    I don’t think the tourney itself is where the problem is. I think WE are the problem! We obsess… and obsess… and obsess.

    Hey… we post all year about this and it all comes to a head in March. We are all invested.

    I really thought this was our year for March. All that experience and being lead by the best player in college basketball, who was tough as nails. But it wasn’t meant to be. Other schools probably felt the same way.

    But after watching the NC weird game, I still think the right team won it all. I believe if all things were equal, we would beat UNC. But… things weren’t equal. UNC developed a monster chip that became apparent once the tourney started. And it wasn’t like they had an easy path to the championship, either.

    There is a reason why I have always pounded the “chip concept” on everyone reading KUBuckets.

    Redemption won it this year, more than UNC. When will we claim our “redemption year?”

  • I’m always curious on this “best team” thing.

    The NCAA tourney doesn’t determine the best team. No tournament is really geared to that.

    Tournaments determine CHAMPIONS. Always have, always will.

  • @DoubleDD said in Is March Maddness a Sham?: Maybe UK and Duke aren’t so wrong with selling their souls for the OAD’s?

    And Self hasn’t sold his soul to OADs? come on now. With all the $hit going on with JJ, he basically said JJ was a great ambassador to the program? seems very calipari like.

    All blue bloods are in the same bucket.

    And March madness isn’t a sham, its the big 12 and the streak.

  • The NCAA tournament rewards specific kinds of good teams and punishes specific kinds of good teams.

    To win the NCAA tournament, you have to be able to play different ways, at different speeds, utilizing different stars. You have to be unpredictable. You have to be able to get easy shots and hit threes. You must be able to defend good perimeter scorers and win the rebounding battle.

    If you have specific and obvious weaknesses (inability to rebound, poor FT shooting, lack of depth, etc.) you will get beaten in the tournament because once in six tries you will run up against a team that exposes those weaknesses.

    Take UCLA this year for example. One of the best collegiate offenses of all time. Poor defensively, particularly at the guard positions. They get shredded in the Sweet 16 to the tune of 39 points by a PG. They lose.

    Take Villanova this year. They were somewhat iffy on the interior all year. Wisconsin battered them physically inside. Season over.

    Syracuse made it to the Final Four last year because they switched from their famous zone to a man to man look in the Elite Eight. Oklahoma rode Buddy Hield to the Final Four with their best team in nearly a decade, but then got hammered by a much more complete team.

    Look at the title games over the last several years. More often than not, the more complete team has triumphed. That’s not an accident. The most talented, most complete team is most likely going to be the one that survives six very different tests over three weeks.

    It’s not just most talented. It’s also most complete. It’s why Wisconsin beat Kentucky in the Final Four a couple years ago. Kentucky was more talented, but Wisconsin was more complete (balanced inside and out, while UK was an interior force).

    There will be a game where you can’t hit from outside and need to score inside. If you can do that, you advance. If not, you go home. There will be another game where all driving lanes are cut off and you have to hit some threes or you go home. The next weekend, maybe you can’t do anything and you just have to crash the boards to stay afloat. Maybe you have to lock down defensively against an All American. Maybe you need rim protection.

    March exposes flaws because if you can’t find that solution, you lose and go home. The tournament has a way of sorting itself out and leaving you with the team that had the fewest flaws. Maybe that is the best team. Maybe its not.

    But everyone signs up knowing the way this works. It’s not like you get to March and everyone is surprised by the format, as if they just introduced it. You know in November how it sets up.

    That’s why I argue that the goal should be to make the team as complete as possible, with as high an overall floor as possible, even if that means you have one or two more losses going into the tournament, because you have to survive those tests, and each test is much different and challenging in its own way.

    In a way, it’s like the old Mortal Kombat games (apologies to those that didn’t like/ didn’t play them). You would pick your character in single player mode and then have to beat a series of different fighters to win the 1P game. On the first couple of levels, (like the first round of the tournament) you could use one or two basic moves and still win. After that, though, if you weren’t good at executing lots of different moves, the computer AI would basically destroy you if you were too predictable.

    And so it went as you advanced further and further. Get too reliant on one move, the AI starts countering it and you lose (lack of depth and creativity). Unable to execute your specials to knock off lots of power (similar to not having big time stars), you lose because you’re barely chipping away at your opponent while they hit you with haymaker after haymaker.

    You only won if you could execute lots of different moves effectively. Same here. You only win if you can succeed in a variety of ways and limit your flaws.

    Now, let’s look at the last several KU teams and their flaws.

    1. 2017 - lack of depth, iffy FT shooting
    2. 2016 - lack of a go to scorer, rim protection
    3. 2015 - lack of a go to scorer, rim protection
    4. 2014 - injuries, rim protection, PG play
    5. 2013 - inconsistent PG play, interior depth
    6. 2012 - overall depth, team athleticism
    7. 2011 - outside shooting consistency, perimeter defense

    Now think back to the tournament losses for each of those teams and remember the issues that haunted us in those games. Very similar to that list, isn’t it. Thing is, those problems didn’t pop up in the tournament. They were there all year. They just sunk us in the tournament.

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