SBJ/20100329/Opinion

Hoops 101: Curriculum for new NCAA tourney

Here is a simple suggestion for a new-look NCAA basketball tournament, adding more fun — and funds — to March Madness.

1. Invite 101 teams.

2. Give the top 27 teams a first-round bye.

3. Schedule 37 games for Wildcard Wednesday.

4. The 37 Wildcard Wednesday winners join the 27 bye teams (64 in all) and play next on Weekend One of the tournament.

5. Weekend Two would be the Sweet Sixteen weekend, and Weekend Three is when The Final Four would take place.

Inviting 101 teams eliminates the possibility that a team or two on the bubble will not get a chance to go to the Big Dance. Plus, ahem, there is some serious money to be made on Wildcard Wednesday for a lot of schools.

I would also suggest that the 37 losing teams from Wildcard Wednesday be invited to play in the NIT. The NIT committee could invite 11 other teams that were not part of the field of 101 teams, which would give the NIT a total of 48 teams. If I were a senior on one of those 37 Wildcard Wednesday losing teams, I would vote yes to play in the NIT, so I could get one last chance to play in a meaningful game for my school. It would be an honor, and it would be fun. (And, who knows? I might end up sinking my last collegiate jump shot at Madison Square Garden. Not a bad memory to have, I’d say.)

Rob Nelson (rxnelson@mac.com) is the co-inventor of Big League Chew Bubble Gum. He was a left-handed philosophy major — and pitcher — at Cornell University, Class of 1971. Rob’s hope that The Big Red reach this year’s Sweet Sixteen was fulfilled.

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