Over the past several years I have been noticing a phenomenon that is troubling me --the introduction of politics into college athletics --most noteably in regards to the NCAA basketball tournament selection process. It looks to me as if the committee has begun baseing many of its seeds these days on general perceptions, rather than individual team accomplishments. Is it just me, or is the entire college basketball season starting to take-on the appearence of a political arena, with different coaches, analysts and administrators, putting in jabs, and jockying for specific conferences and teams, in an attempt to assure better seeding for the tournament?
What ever happened to having the teams, flat-out earn a particular seed, rather than just giving them one?
There is insurmountable evidence that seeding in the tournament can make a tremendous difference for a team's chances of making it to the final four. But, is it the team, or is it the seed? I would argue that it is alot of both. Every season I hear the analysts saying, "The NCAA selection committee really got it right this year;" but, do they really get it right, or do the seeds just make it look that way? If a team is really so awful good, will it really matter if they are the ones to get a one seed or a four seed? There's only one way to find out, right? What would happen if a team, like a Wisconsin, or Gonzaga, was actually given a one-seed for a conference championship? After all, have they not earned a top seed for their play during the regular season?
Another thing that needs to be looked at is the obvious bias that teams, such as Wisconsin, experience because of their style of play --a style that has been around since the game was invented. This would be one hell of a boring game if everyone did things the exact same way, wouldn't it? That's what the NBA has become to the basketball purists --redundant and boring! When college basketball becomes what the NBA is --a track meet, where the teams with the best athletes ALWAYS win-- then college basketball will lose its appeal to the general public. Wisconsin gets a bad rap for being more methodical than most teams; but when you look at other teams like Michigan State and Purdue (aside from some secondary break opportunities that they try to exploit) they pretty much do the same thing as Wisconsin does.
As it stands, some teams, like Wisconsin, will never get a fair shot, in that respect. Not because they have not had some good teams, but because of politics. Even after winning a Big Ten conference championship,they're doomed to be a 4 or 5 seed, under the current train of thought. However, even a team like Wisconsin could make a long run in the tournament, if the pairings worked in their favor, for a change. It would be nice to see them get a fair seed, just to test that theory. Seeding is almost everything in the NCAA tournament; but the seeds are not always doled-out fairly. That needs to change.
Everybody loves an underdog, but the underdog is being systematically removed from the college game by hype and politics. Why can't the underdogs get the better seeds for a change --if they have earned it?