The regions may be East, West, Midwest, and South, but take a look at where teams are really going to be slotted, and it quite frankly makes little sense
Don’t let the bare simplicity fool you. A quick look at the NCAA Tournament regional final locations for 2009 show Boston (East), Glendale (West), Memphis (South), and Indianapolis (Midwest) as the hosts. But to get to those respective cities, schools have to go places that don’t make a whole lot of sense.
You hear more and more with the current economy and with schools trying to save money that it’s smarter to keep these teams closer to home. Okay, no debate there. I agree that in these tough economic times that giving fans the opportunity to see their team is the right thing to do. But would someone explain the NCAA’s logic when they put they pair these locations together.
Take a look for yourself:
Greensboro, Minneapolis, Miami
Kansas City, Philadelphia, Boise, Dayton
Dayton, Portland, Boise, Greensboro
Philadelphia, Portland, Miami, Kansas City
The first thing that immediately jumps out at me from those locations is the East. Who came up with the logic that Portland, Oregon (one of the most westernmost cities in the U.S.) should be part of the East? I was looking at a mock Tournament Projection Bracket on SI today, and Andy Glockner believes that FSU will be a four seed in the East. Great! That means they’l play in Miami right, you know seven hours away from home, but relatively close to where their friends and family can see them. Right, right? Wrong! If that projection played out, not only would Florida State not play their first round game in the Sunshine State, they wouldn’t even play their first game in the Southeast. Instead, somehow they’d end up in Portland. That makes a whole lot of sense, right?
While Florida State would be traveling practically out of the country, number four seed Villanova (from the West region) would somehow end up with a de facto home game in Philadelphia. They play in the Wachovia Center with the 76ers! Both teams are four seeds, yet one would end up three time zones away, and the other wouldn’t have to move a muscle. Yeah, that seems fair.
Here’s where things also get tricky: Memphis should be a number two, possibly even a one seed when the tourney starts. There is a Memphis regional. However, under his current projections, Glockner has the Tigers in the East regional… in Boston! Meanwhile, Michigan State would head out to Tennessee should they make it past the first weekend. It’s an interesting dilemna: give the team a blatant home advantage in their regional, and allow them to save money, or send them away from home, location be damned!, because it’s unfair to have a team playing for a Final Four berth in it’s own city?
So with that said, if I was the NCAA Tournament committee, here’s what I would do to keep things as economically friendly as possible:
Dayton, Kansas City
Given the selected locations, doesn’t this make a heck of a lot more geographical sense than the current system? Don’t want Florida State playing at home? Fine, send them to North Carolina, where people from Tallahassee could actually drive to. Don’t want Villanova playing in it’s back yard? Send them to Minneapolis.
You get the idea.
The current system reminds me of a ludicrous flight plan I once had back in the day. The goal was to get to New Mexico, particularly Santa Fe.
We left from the Fort Lauderdale airport, flew to Philadelphia, from there we went to Denver, then flew to Albuquerque, before finally driving an hour and a half to Santa Fe.
Does that make any sense whatsoever? To get to New Mexico we went to Philly! What? That’s like going from Tallahassee to Portland, with the motive of getting to Boston. Makes no sense whatsoever!
But hey, that’s just my opinion.
Photo: AP Mary Ann Chastain
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