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Selection committee succeeds again by forcing you to hate it

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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The howls of anger about the snubbed and de-snubbed will begin to dissipate Tuesday morning, and the NCAA tournament will become what it really is -- you minding your bracket in the office pool.

But the tournament committee did its job brilliantly again by causing you to rage about the tournament committee.

Whether they were drunk, didn't understand basketball, ignored their own guidelines or just stopped caring after the six-seeds, they did what all committees are created to do -- make you hate committees.

But I'll give you the solution to this problem if you want it:

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A 256-team bracket with 89 play-in games. Period. Everyone's in, and shut up.

But nobody else wants that, and nobody else has thought of it, and nobody could -- even the most Tourette-afflicted bracketologist -- run with it.

So we live with a committee, and all committees by their nature reward their friends and biases and punish their enemies and blind spots.

And we live with a selection process, which means teams get deselected when they should be selected and the other way around.

So hate the system all you want, but you still got gamed by it again, and you always will for the same reason you already have. You love the drug too much to mind the side effects.

And part of the drug is screaming that other people don't know as much as you. It is the formula that made the BCS great, and the BCS has hooked you for all the same reasons. You feel dirtier, but it's the same disease.

You need the argument. You can say it's because you stand on the right palm of God, or that you want the best possible competition, or anything else you want, but this is about the argument. You get to call someone else stupid, they get to call you stupid, and then you both buy a round of beers.

Besides, the tournament wasn't formed into the megalith it is today because it wants a true champion. The tournament was formed so that all corners of the country can care, and those who care are willing to pay. And the more who pay ... ding ding ding, we have a winner, no more calls please.

That's why the pick-the-best-teams argument fails, because if you do that, college basketball becomes a regional game again, and the NCAA didn't get to be the NCAA by embracing the regional.

And this isn't about the reward-the-little-guys argument, either, because the little guys get hosed all the time, and the more the system is gamed to get them in, the harder it is for them to actually get in. The NCAA may embrace the regional, but the big payoff is still reserved for those who want to pay for it in recruiting and salaries and moving T-shirts, etc.

So the system is imperfect, and never more so than on Caesarean ... er, Selection Sunday. It got you again. You hated the system so the system could live. And the system thanks you by charging you top dollar for everything under the sun through its corporate champions, a nauseating name that invalidates the phrase "national champions."

Now you don't have to get too angry about it. It is the way the business is done on the collegiate level, and if you'll eat the BCS, you'll definitely eat this.

We just mention it so that the next time you see someone shrieking about UAB and VCU or Clemson, just congratulate them on getting the joke. And for bringing their wallets, because one leads to the other.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.

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