With March Madness starting Thursday, it's worth pointing out that everyone falls in love with college basketball mostly on account of the format of the tournament. There will be talk about how it's the purity of the game (translation: no one taunts), the more team-oriented style of play (translation: no one can hit a jump shot), and the pageantry (translation: everyone likes remembering their college days).
But in truth, it's the tournament format: one-and-done, win-or-go-home. It's the result of a tournament in which the talent isn't developed or coached to a level of significant separation, combined with a single-elimination format, buzzer beaters and Cinderella stories. It's surprise. If Duke plays Albany in a seven-game series like the NBA uses, Duke's winning that series in no more than five. That unpredictability is what makes the NCAA tournament more fun than the NBA playoffs, even if it doesn't determine a legitimate champion under any circumstances.
But what if the NBA had a similar tournament? What if we allowed the possibility of teams getting knocked out on a bad day? And what if instead of seeding the playoffs based on record, we took everything into account and put together a seeding based on committee like the NCAA does?
Well, we did that.
Here's what we came up with, and over the next few weeks we'll be putting together scenarios for the results.
Some thoughts on the seedings from the committee members (EOB Staff).
On Miami, the No. 1 overall seed:
This is the juggernaut No. 1 overall seed that's favored to steamroll to the Final Four. They're like the 1992 Blue Devils. Like any top seed, they're vulnerable, but it would be quite the bracket-busting upset if it they didn't cut down the nets again. -- Royce Young
- They've basically been on a one-and-done run with their winning streak and have shown they're not only the best team but also capable of bringing it when people are trying to end a streak of theirs. Also, LeBron James exists. -- Zach Harper
- Of the many gaps between the Heat and any NCAA tournament team ever, perhaps the most prominent is this: When games in college get tight, the players panic due to their youth and inexperience, but the Heat have responded to deficits and shrinking leads (like the one vs. Toronto) with blistering runs. They are not only the team best adapted for the NBA playoffs, but this kind of format as well. -- Matt Moore
- Last time we saw Kevin Durant in a one-and-done tournament, his school did nothing. That was also before he was a world-eating Gatling gun who destroys everything in his path. OKC would probably be pretty good. -- Zach Harper
- Isn't Russell Westbrook the kind of guard you want in a tournament like this? Fast, strong, able to get to the rim. Kevin Martin is that shooter you've never heard of who just kills your team in the second round, squashing an upset hope. -- Matt Moore
- Two of the committee members ranked the Spurs No. 2 overall. So what happened? One member dropped them all the way to fourth overall, because ...
- Isn't this the kind of team we always see upset in the tournament? A traditional powerhouse reliant on 3-point shooting that's so used to success it can get caught? Look no further than their loss to the Grizzlies two years ago for why I think San Antonio is an awesome NBA playoffs team but horrible for this format. -- Matt Moore
- On the other hand ...
- If you're thinking about a one-and-done tournament, two things should come to mind: 1) Does the team have talent? and 2) Does it have shooters? Check and check. -- Zach Harper
- It's pretty simple: They're 2-1 against their top competition for the No. 2 spot. -- Royce Young
- The reason I don't love Denver in the playoffs is because I feel like it's easy to adjust to what the Nuggets do in a seven-game series. The reason why I love them in the regular season is they're almost impossible to deal with on random nights. They would shine in this format. -- Zach Harper
- The committee doesn't like the fact that the Nuggets have had issues on the road this season. Dominant at home, but extremely inconsistent away from the Rockies. --Royce Young
- If their shooters get cold, they could get upset very easily. But rebounding, the speed, and frenetic style of play is reminiscent of the '94 Razorbacks with Kenneth Faried in the Corliss Williamson spot. (Corliss actually had a better post game, but let's move on.) -- Matt Moore
- The cliche is defense wins, and the Grizzlies are one of the toughest defensive groups in the league. And they're closing well, which is favorable in the eyes of the committee. -- Royce Young
- I'm actually not crazy about this group's chances in this kind of format, because when things go south, they go south in a hurry, but their overall body of work is too impressive to ignore. -- Matt Moore
- The reason they're not above Indiana (for me) is because they don't have 3-point shooters. Those kind of teams get upset all the time in these tournaments. -- Zach Harper (had the Grizzlies seventh overall)
- They're probably a lot like those Calipari teams from the past decade. They're capable of winning the whole thing but really you're just watching them to see the individual talents shine. -- Zach Harper
- I like the guard play, but teams that get them outside of their comfort zone have really shelled them. That slipped them a bit here. -- Matt Moore
- The defense is consistently good enough to slow it down and make sure they have a chance to win it, and I like their odds with Paul George and George Hill. Foul trouble would be something to watch if we made this thing five fouls like the NCAA. -- Matt Moore
- Defensive masters who can shoot the 3 a little bit. It's a big reason why you can see them being great in this format. Also, imagine if they got seeded in a region near Indiana. They're great at home. -- Zach Harper
- HOW FUN WOULD THIS TEAM BE IN A ONE-AND-DONE TOURNAMENT?! ANSWER: A LOT OF FUN. -- Zach Harper
- I have them as a No. 3 seed, lower than my brethren on the committee, but there's no denying this team is set to make a Cinderella run (as a No. 2 seed, apparently). They get hot and there's no stopping them. The scariest one-and-done team in the tournament outside of Miami. -- Matt Moore
- Honestly, the committee has no idea what to do here. The Celtics are playing really well, but are they actually legit? You could make a case for them to be the No. 3 East team, but that means you ignore their entire body of work and just weigh what's happened recently. -- Royce Young
- This Celtics team would be good in a one-and-done tournament team and likely to upset a lot of teams before them because everybody would just assume they're going to lose. They love proving people wrong. -- Zach Harper
- Paul Pierce in a one-and-done tournament is a terrifying thought. -- Matt Moore
- I always feel bad for big men like Brook Lopez in the tournament. He should be set to dominate all game, but people just start jacking 3-pointers and forget to feed the big guys. -- Zach Harper
- I don't like this team's style at all for a tournament -- slow, poor defense, offensively-minded. Limited possessions and reliant on hitting shots? They're going to get picked off. -- Matt Moore.
- They have the shooters to shine in this format but they don't have health, a competent point guard right now, or the defense. -- Zach Harper
- The thing that gives me pause? We've seen what Carmelo Anthony can do in a one-and-done tournament. -- Matt Moore
- Tournament teams with shooters -- it goes together like peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, and Russell Westbrook and anything that isn't the media or a subtly fashionable shirt. -- Zach Harper
- Starting to think I may have put them too low. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack are kind of made for this thing, aren't they? -- Matt Moore
- They're like that super dangerous four seed that underachieved throughout the season but has three lottery picks in its starting five and you know if they get hot, they could be a real problem. -- Royce Young
- The Selection Sunday antics of Dwight Howard ... /shudders. -- Zac Harper
- Thing is, I don't like how unbalanced their offense is. If Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks aren't hitting jumpers ... -- Matt Moore
- I would love to see Josh Smith's shot selection in a one-and-done tournament. -- Zach Harper
- I do like that we know what Al Horford can do in a tournament like this, and Jeff Teague could be a problem. Plus Kyle Korver and DeShawn Stevenson as shooters. Hmm ... -- Matt Moore
- Can't you see Nate Robinson getting hot from downtown and screwing up your bracket? -- Zach Harper
- I don't like Dallas' chances at all, and how much could Derrick Rose cause mayhem at the sports books? -- Matt Moore
- Beware the Dirk ... -- Zach Harper
- Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews with J.J. Hickson and LaMarcus Aldridge terrifies me in this kind of tournament, even with that bench. -- Matt Moore
- Re: Bucks: SWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAG. -- Zach Harper
- Monta Ellis have it all and Brandon Jennings could be a problem. Shooters are an issue, though. -- Matt Moore