Saturday, March 23, 2013

No March Madness for NCAA Women's Tournament; it's maddening instead

It's hard to find March Madness in the Women's Tournament.

NCAA Tournament, day one. It should be Christmas Day, right? Can't say I'm feeling March Madness at the moment, just anger.

These aren't new gripes, they just resonate at the moment having watched Florida Gulf Coast upset Georgetown in the first round of the men's tournament. That's March Madness. Women's basketball, which has long claimed it wants to take the good parts of the men's game while restoring what it does well, is doing just the opposite.

It's utter nonsense to continue compromising the integrity of the field by making a higher seed play on a lower seed's home court. Notre Dame's reward for its Big East championship and one loss is to play in Iowa with a potential matchup against the Hawkeyes? North Carolina, a 3 seed, gets slotted for Newark, home to Delaware where the Blue Hens could await in the second round?

Then there's the matter of why Delaware is a 6 seed at all or Hampton a 15. Yes, it's a tired argument that the mid-majors get slighted, better word screwed, but LadySwish wonders why. Is anyone arguing that the current format is "growing the game"? Toledo, 29-3, is playing in the second round of the WNIT instead of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Is there really a need to reward West Virginia and Kansas, teams with 13 losses apiece? The Jayhawks slide includes losing five of their final seven. So much for the NCAA committee evaluating a team's final 10.

In this era of what conference are you in this week?, isn't it time to drop the word mid-major from the discussion? It's a condescending label and one that prevents the so-called growth women's basketball contends it wants. The only route for a "mid-major" getting to the tournament with a respectable seed is to sweep its conference and stack up wins against the "majors." Now how hard can that be?

Consider this. When Wendy Larry was at ODU, she was lucky. "Majors" -- Tennessee, UConn, Texas Tech, North Carolina, Rutgers -- were regulars on the schedule, but what a novelty that was. "Hello, BCS school. This is Kenny Brooks calling. Can we get a home-and-home series? Hello? Hello......."

The entire tournament seems to be geared to the "predetermined" Final Four, the Notre Dame, UConn, Baylor and Stanford. Great teams. Awesome players. But other schools have great teams and awesome players, too, names that should be household ones but aren't. Yep, you probably know Elena Delle Donne, but Ally Malott, Niveen Rasheed and yeah, if you're reading this blog you probably know Keiara Avant, but how many others do?

Next weekend Norfolk hosts a regional. Teams hold press conferences and practices in the Constant Center, and guess what? These practices are closed. Why is this a big deal? Let's go back to 2008. Practices were open. My son, a budding fan of the game at the time, watched all of them and can recount the details of meeting Tar Heel Erlana Larkins. What a treat it was for fans to get up close to a team practicing in hopes of earning a trip to the Final Four, a concept the men's tournament embraces. Seems to me it's a good way to grow the game, and as most know, the real practice comes later at an undisclosed site.

There is opportunity for greatness in the NCAA women's tournament, and I retract my earlier statement that there is no madness. This current format is just that --sheer lunacy.

1 comment:

  1. AMEN! Penn State and UNC as 3 seeds both played AWAY and lost to 6 seeds.

    This was the second year in a row Penn State played LSU in Baton Rouge as the higher seed (won 4-5 game last year) and the third time in the last six years that the Lady Lions have been sent to LSU. WHAT HAPPENED to the supposed methodology of not repeatedly sending the same teams to the same venues?

    p.s. 1 seed Notre Dame did play at 9 seed Iowa in the second round but won.

    Others: Purdue lost at Louisville as the 4 seed in a 4-5 game. 4 seed South Carolina traveled to Boulder and 5 seed Colorado. 2 seed Cal played at Lubbock hosted by 7 seed Texas Tech. 2 seed Kentucky and 7 seed Dayton played in Queens where St. John's was the 10 seed.

    And in maybe the BIGGEST RAW DEAL, 4 seed Georgia traveled to Spokane where the sub-regional was hosted by 12 seed Gonzaga. Athens to Spokane is just about as far away from home as Georgia, the highest seed of the 4 teams in the sub-regional, could possibly have had to travel. BTW, Georgia will be back in Spokane this weekend for the regional. This example just further proves that the NCAA is also hypocritical when espousing their party line that their focus is on preserving the student in student-athlete.