NCAA Tournament: Forget Mount St. Mary’s and Coppin State; Villanova and Kentucky Need to Slug It Out

I come before you with a modest proposal. A modest proposal regarding the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The NCAA is playing the play-in game tonight in Dayton, Ohio. This game is between two teams from minor conferences, and they’re playing for the right to lose to North Carolina on Thursday. This year’s contestants are Mount St. Mary’s and Coppin State.

Here’s my proposal. These two teams won their conference championships. They deserve the right to actually play in the big boy tournament starting on Thursday before the national audience on CBS. They might suck. And they probably won’t advance to the weekend. But they’ve followed the rules and won their conferences, they deserve the same reward as all of the other teams that win their conferences.

If the NCAA wants to keep with this 65-team thing involving the play-in game, then the two teams involved in this game should really be some of those mediocre bubble teams who only get in because they play in major conferences. These teams generally finish in the bottom half of their conference standings, and they never make it past the second round of their conference tournaments. And though they get into the big boy tournament on the basis of so-called strength of schedule, they never win anything once they’re there. (Come on, they’ve been unable to beat the big kids in their conference all season, why should things change now?)

CBS stated on Sunday night that the last team invited by the NCAA into the tournament was Villanova, a 12 seed that finished the season 20-12. They finished the season in eighth place in the Big East Conference standings, and went 9-9 in the conference. I’d pair Villanova up with Kentucky. Sure, Kentucky’s a big name with a great NCAA history. And Kentucky has one of my favorite basketball fans, but they finished the season at 18-12 (hell, my Houston Cougars kicked their ass on national television early in the year). Kentucky was also one of the last teams into the tournament.

Why should these two utterly mediocre basketball teams get guaranteed spots into the big boy tournament? Why don’t they have to actually earn it for once? They sure didn’t earn it during the regular season. And yes, Coppin State and Mount St. Mary’s will probably get their asses kicked in the first round of the tournament, but they did actually win something when it mattered, unlike Villanova and Kentucky.

So that’s my modest proposal. Let the kids have a little fun. And if the so-called big boys want to play in the tourney, then maybe they should actually win some games when it actually matters.

Even if it means I don’t get to see Ashley. -- John Royal

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