National Columnist

NCAA conspiracy theorists have plenty of ammo

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Conspiracy theories are for dummies and crazy people. You know that, right? They made a movie about it. Called it Conspiracy Theory. And the lead character, Mel Gibson's conspiracy theorist, was certifiable.

But he was right, too.

Which leads me to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. To get all conspiracy theorist with this bracket, or any bracket, is dumb and it's crazy. The committee has too much to do, too many moving pieces to fit into that puzzle, to set up games like Dayton-Ohio State or coaching matchups like Rick Pitino-Steve Masiello or looming Round-of-32 civil wars like Nebraska-Creighton.

Not to mention Round-of-32 possibilities like Wichita State-Kansas State and Villanova-Saint Joseph's. And a Sweet 16 game between Louisville and Kentucky at Indianapolis.

So either you believe all of those games and potential games are a coincidence, or you believe the committee was up to something funny.

Me? I think the committee was up to something funny. And I'll support that theory by telling you that the committee had to be spending its time being silly, because Lord knows the committee wasn't spending its time ensuring some basic bracket rules -- like, fairness -- were being followed.

Case in point, A: Louisville as a fourth seed. That's silly. The Cardinals aren't a No. 1 seed, but their resume is closer to a No. 1 seed than a No. 4. Unfair.

Case in point, B: Louisville as a No. 4 seed and having a de facto home game in the Sweet 16 against No. 1 seed Wichita State. We can debate whether Louisville deserved to be seeded so poorly, but what we cannot debate is what is being asked of Wichita State. The top seeds are supposed to be geographically protected, helped out if possible but not completely screwed at a minimum. And Wichita State was completely screwed.

Any idea how far Louisville is from Indianapolis? About 90 minutes by car. It's nothing. And southern Indiana is a hotbed of Louisville fans. Louisville is more than comfortable at Indy.

And that's the team, and the city, likely awaiting Wichita State in the Sweet 16.

So of course the committee was being silly with that Ohio State-Dayton game in Buffalo in the Round of 64. A game like that takes a few minutes to set up, minutes the committee clearly didn't spend on the West Regional when the committee gave more geographical consideration to sixth-seeded Baylor than it did, as I've mentioned, to top-seeded Wichita State in the Midwest.

Baylor will play its first two games at San Antonio, about 2 1/2 hours south of Waco on Interstate 35. So while the committee was chuckling about that looming Creighton-Nebraska game in the Round of 32, it was ignoring that Baylor, a sixth seed, was being given a veritable home game with Nebraska in the Round of 64 and another one, potentially, with Creighton in the Round of 32. And as the third seed, Creighton shouldn't have been saddled with such an unkind draw.

Hell, I'm surprised the committee didn't put BYU in a pod that plays on Sunday.

I mean, Louisville a fourth seed? And then playing Wichita State or Kentucky at Indianapolis? But only after Rick Pitino has to compete with his protege, Masiello, the head coach of Manhattan, in the Round of 64?

There's a lot here to consider. Maybe the committee got lucky to make it so interesting. In fact, the more I think about it, that's what the committee did. It got lucky. Because making this many fascinating games in such a short amount of time requires one of two things: considerable luck, or considerable intelligence.

And after looking at this committee's bracket, I'm not seeing a lot of intelligence.

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