And one bad consequence leads to the other. Just as soon as the 68 are revealed, hours and days are spent debating the brackets. Some will say the committee did a good job, but plenty of others will not, and heaven forbid if a team makes the field and those pundits didn’t think they belonged.
We heard this lament three years ago. A mid-major team was put into one of the last four spots in the field, slotted to one of the “play-in” (whatever official term they use, it’s a play-in) games in Dayton.
The next 72 hours were spent pontificating about what a horror, an absolute disgrace, that this unworthy team was dancing, that the committee should feel disgust and shame for even considering them, mainly because, well, the pontificates didn’t have them there, and also – well, let’s face it, there was no other real reason.
That object of expert derision was Virginia Commonwealth. And they made it to the Final Four.
Beyond any other example, the Rams’ inspired run to Houston in 2011 proved that maybe, just maybe, the committee knows what it’s doing, and that perhaps they’re in that room in Indianapolis for a good reason.
You see, when this collection of (mostly) athletic directors and conference commissioners gather late this week to do the grunt work that no Bracketologist (just that word is silly) wants them to do, they know that no glory will come from their efforts.
Much like referees or umpires, they now work at a completely thankless task, with two packs of outside forces to contend with – those that proclaim their brackets to be foolproof, yet still can afford to be wrong, and those who are ready, torches and pitchforks handy, to ransack their efforts the moment it is finished.
The saddest part is that the tournament committee might understand, better than any of us, a simple, yet forgotten notion - that it is a privilege and an honor just to be part of this tournament, which I consider America’s best annual sporting event.