“The Butler Bulldogs fell only one miracle shot short of shocking the world and winning the NCAA tournament for the little guys. The little guys that I am talking about are mid-majors, who, during this tournament, have gotten a lot of talk. First you have Northern Iowa, a team led by Ali Farokhmanesh, which knocked off the Kansas Jayhawks, who many bracket makers picked to win the whole thing.””
The Butler Bulldogs fell only one miracle shot short of shocking the world and winning the NCAA tournament for the little guys.
The little guys that I am talking about are mid-majors, who, during this tournament, have gotten a lot of talk.
First you have Northern Iowa, a team led by Ali Farokhmanesh, which knocked off the Kansas Jayhawks, who many bracket makers picked to win the whole thing.
Then there is Ohio, a team that defeated Akron in the MAC tournament to get into the NCAA tournament and proceeded to be the lowest seed to win its first round game (14).
Cornell showed us that Ivy League schools can do other things besides academics as they made their way to the sweet 16 before being dismantled by the Kentucky Wildcats.
Saint Mary’s also showed us that anything is possible in March after they knocked off Villanova in the second round.
And then there is Butler. Led by Gordon Hayward, the Bulldogs fell two points short of defeating perennial tournament participant Duke.
With all of the successes of the mid-major teams, the NCAA has been talking about expansion in the tournament.
The expansion would increase the tournament field to 96 teams with 32 teams receiving a first round bye.
This makes the first round of the tournament the NIT. It will be sub-par teams that originally should not have made it into the big dance now participating.
For example North Carolina had one of their worst years in recent memory and made it into the three letter tournament. With the expansion, they would make it into the real tournament.
I personally feel that with a 64 (65 if you count the play-in game) team field you get the best of all worlds.
Every team gets an automatic bid from winning their conference tournament.
Then at large teams who are good, but did not win their respective tournaments, fill in the gaps.
Mid-major teams have been shunned at receiving at large bids for the most part because of their big brother conferences taking home most of them.
This is what makes the tournament so great. It gives those smaller teams a chance to compete against the big boys.
One of the more surprising runs was George Mason in 2006 who knocked off the big boys before losing to the eventual national champion Florida.
Butler wasn’t as surprising of a run, just because they showed their dominance in the regular season.
My concern is that if the tournament expands, it will dilute teams like Butler.
Most of the mid-majors that make it into the tournament would drop even lower in seeding thus giving them a harder road to the final four, not to mention an extra game.
Why mess with perfection. Something that we know and love and that has even been dubbed March madness.
I feel that the madness will dissipate if the tournament expands. Those who bet on brackets will have less fun as well for it would be nearly impossible to have a perfect bracket.
Butler was a great story this year. My question is if the tournament expands, would there be stories like this anymore?