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Thoughts about NCAA tourney

With the first weekend of March Madness almost over, I'm still ticked off over Selection Sunday . . .

Has there ever been a worse NCAA bracket put together than this year's? It seems like you could get 10 followers of college basketball off the street and get a better bracket than the one foisted upon us last week.

Let's see, there was the BYU Sunday snafu, the dissing of Mountain West Conference teams, the possible semifinal pairing of the two top teams, Kentucky and Arizona. the inclusion of a couple of mediocre SEC teams . . .

I'm still trying to figure out what's so great about this NCAA bracket "pod" system. It seems like it just makes everybody more confused with teams from different regionals playing in the same venue for first and second-round games. If the idea is to keep teams closer to home, how did Utah and Oregon get sent clear out to Tennessee in the Midwest bracket and not one of three local teams, BYU, Utah State and Weber State ended up in Salt Lake City? . . .

Why have 65 teams, anyway? We got by with 64 for nearly 20 years and it worked well. I know there are a lot of teams on the bubble, but couldn't we have gotten by with one less team such as Alabama, which lost eight of its last 13 games coming into the tournament? I guess it bugs me that teams like N.C.-Ashville get credited with an NCAA victory on that stupid play-in game, which skews NCAA records.

The RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is way overblown, but if the NCAA is going to use it, it should at least be consistent. While most schools' seedings came in pretty close to their RPI rankings, Utah and BYU were farther off their RPI rankings (both in the top 20, corresponding to No. 5 seeds) than any other schools in the tournament . . .

OK, after getting four local teams in the tourney for the first time in 23 years, Utah, BYU, Utah State and Weber State only went a collective 1-3. However, considering the seeds, the locals couldn't have made a much better showing than they did with Utah State losing by 3 to Kansas, BYU losing to UConn by five and Weber State to Wisconsin by seven and Utah knocking off Oregon. Just think of what they might have done with better seedings . . .

Sure Rick Majerus is rude, crude, overweight and a completely different personality in front of the national media than in Utah, but the guy can sure coach. Only Majerus could have pieced together Friday's NCAA victory over a more talented Oregon team with his patchwork squad of undersized underclassmen . . .

I've never been a conspiracy theorist, so I really don't believe the NCAA committee rubs their collective hands together and cackle while they put Utah and Kentucky in the same brackets. Remember of the four previous Utah-Kentucky NCAA meetings, one came in the Finals, one came in the Elite Eight and one in the Sweet 16. Only one other time besides this year were the Utes and 'Cats partnered for a second-round matchup and that was 10 years ago . . .

I didn't see it until about three weeks ago, but I'm already sick of the latest craze at the end of college basketball games — players holding up their jerseys with both hands, showing off the team name . . .

Another bracket gripe. The Atlantic 10 Conference, which has been rated below the Mountain West Conference all season, gets three teams like the MWC. However its three teams are seeded 3 (Xavier), 4 (Dayton) and 7 (St. Joseph's), while the MWC gets a 9 (Utah), 12 (BYU) and (14) Colorado State. Despite the disparity in seedings, both conferences went 1-2 in the opening round. Here's guessing that the MWC would have gone 3-0 with the seeds the Atlantic 10 received . . .

I still think opening weekend is the most exciting part of the NCAA tournament. Still, I'll keep my eyes transfixed on March Madness until it finishes in early April.


E-mail: sor@desnews.com