After joining the Hallelujah chorus this morning on behalf of Jay Bilas and his de-pantsing of the NCAA, I have found a topic on which I don’t agree with the ESPN analyst.
Will Leitch of Sports on Earth references a Bilas position on the NCAA Tournament voiced during an ESPN podcast. Jay said:
You can’t have a system where the revenue drivers are being told they cannot do what they want to do. People say, ‘You take away the opportunity for the little guy to pull off the upset against the big guy, this thing will crumble and no one will watch it.’ That is ludicrous. Football isn’t based on Appalachian State beating Michigan a few years ago in football… Clearly people aren’t pining for the upset the way we think they are. If in the NCAA tournament, if some of the automatic qualifiers — who truthfully have no chance of winning — were replaced with the better teams who weren’t making it now as at-larges, the tournament would be better right away. People would enjoy that even more than they do now.
Leitch doesn’t agree and nor do I. While I fully expect the power conferences to ultimately form their own “super division” within the NCAA, I think that will be for football purposes only. Football is the big bank item. I think basketball will remain a folksier, more inclusive affair.
To have an NCAA Basketball Tournament of nothing but mega-schools might make the hardcore basketball fan happy. It might even be better. But it won’t be more popular. It would shut out the average fan on whom much of the tournament’s popularity is based.