A method for the madness

Five weeks ago in this space, I offered the notion that March, and college basketball's post-season, arrived with a large dose of uncertainty about it, that there was no super team, that the upcoming NCAA Tournament would surprise and confound us before it was done.

Well, I was wrong. It wasn't surprising or confounding. It was downright shocking.

Okay, some people thought Connecticut would stay hot and that Kentucky would continue its late surge and get to Houston. But Butler again? Virginia Commonwealth? What is going on here?

The Rams' run to the Final Four, after being one of the last four teams in the field and forced to play an extra round, drew particular attention, as much for the vehement criticism that followed Shaka Smart and company everywhere.

Right from the moment the selections were announced, commentators and columnists tripped over each other flogging VCU and griping that the likes of Virginia Tech and Colorado weren't selected. They questioned the tournament committee's intelligence, among other potshots.

And even after the Rams' extraordinary performance in the Dance, these same "experts" lined up again to take one more whack, begging the NCAA to never, ever let the tournament expand again. Better to point fingers elsewhere than admit you were wrong about VCU.

All this has caused me to ponder the very nature of the tournament and its components - power conferences, mid-majors, and everything in between. Then I would ask the question - how big should the tournament be? Then, once that is figured, who should get in?

Maybe the 64-team model was perfect, but those days are gone. The current 68 is incomplete if the snubs are obvious. The much-discussed 96 doesn't feel right, and though the late John Wooden would have loved it, inviting everyone into the field already happens, to some degree, with conference tournaments everywhere except the Ivy League.

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