Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A season-long tournament?

This afternoon I happened to watch the Carling Cup semifinal tie between Liverpool and Manchester City(Liverpool won the 2-game aggregate series 3-2) and wondered whether or not a season long tournament would be appropriate for College Basketball.

First, a backgrounder
Internationally, most soccer leagues(MLS and Australia's A-League are notable exceptions) are devoid of playoffs, everything is determined by how well you do over a long season. To compensate, there are open-style, season-long tournaments conducted by national governing bodies. Thus you get competitions like the FA Cup, the Copa del Rey, and the U.S. Open Cup.

Now, the poser
Could you see something like this in college basketball? Where everyone has a chance to win it? Probably not, but it's worth trying out. The tournament would involve every Division I school playing an FA Cup-style tournament, with brackets drawn after every round and every team having the right to host a game(ex.; Kentucky drawing a road game at Portland State, or Kansas hosting Duke before the semis). Theoretically, such a tournament would have the following characteristics(using this year's Division I list; excluding Nebraska-Omaha):

*Round 1: 216 teams compete to move on(these would include most of the lower levels of D-I)
*Round 2: Round 1 winners play-off
*Round 3: 54 teams from conferences like Conference USA, Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Missouri Valley, and Horizon League play Round 2 winners in hopes of playing in;
*Round 4: The 74 teams from the BCS 6 join the competition, playing for 7 additional rounds of knock-out competition before determining the cup winner.

It would make the regular season more valuable.
Allows for smaller schools to reap more benefits and visibility.
The final would easily sell out and TV ratings would be better than what the National Championship Game gets now.

Every BCS 6 school would hate having to go anywhere.
Length of the tournament would be a major problem.
Some schools(particularly the West Coast) don't want to be in the wrong side of the pool.
Would immediately render the NCAA tournament(and the various conference tournaments) defunct.
College Football would get very angry of the mere idea of College Basketball infringing on their turf.
Controversy would flare when a non-BCS school wins the tournament.

Tomorrow, I'll present how a FA Cup-style tournament would work with the alignment this season.

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