Monday, March 21, 2016

reboot what?

Like the rest of the poor slobs out there, Bokolis gets caught up by the onset of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball tournament to the point of being essentially mummified.  In prior years, my interest would consistently hit the wall about midway through Friday's card.  I always figured that this was because I'd been drinking pretty much straight through from Wednesday night to Friday and that I was now surrounded by the amateur work crowd.  However, I've significantly cut down on my drinking since the end of summer and, since about the middle of December, I've been essentially dry.

Also, Bokolis watched virtually ZERO college basketball this year.  Ever since I decided that the format of basketball games are an insult to my intelligence, I've cut down on my viewing.  However, there was nothing to register on the radar to make me follow.  Of course, this would be to my detriment come bracket time, but the whole bracket-as-science thing seems more than a little silly to me.

Besides, Bokolis already told y'all a long time ago how flawed the tournament setup is.  Half the seedings are screwed up because of conference-protecting the regionals, the other half because the selection committee is less than diligent in assessing the one-bid conference champions.

In any event, I don't see the logic of letting at-large teams directly into the tournament while two conference champions have to win a play-in game.

So, how do we fix this? Let in more teams, of course. You can let in teams from smaller conferences that may have dominated the regular season, but faltered in the conference tournament, and some teams from mid-majors. That will surely take the total up, out of bitching-range. The third best team from a small conference, a middling mid-major, the 8th place team from the Big 10 can't say shit, because none can viably claim that they are better than one another.

Structure the tournament like the English FA cup, where the top teams don't play the opening rounds. I would have 76 teams in total. The first round starts with 24 teams. The second round would be 32 teams; 20 teams added to the 12 survivors. For the third round, 16 teams would be added to the 16 advancing from second round. The fourth round would be 16 more teams added to the 16 advancing teams, making for a 32-team, 5-round knockout stage.

That renders useless the already-pointless conference tournaments, which only reward the slackers for getting hot at the right time. I've also added two rounds to the dance, yet reduced the top teams' workload by one round.

Easy enough, right?

For these reasons, Bokolis was interested to experience how I'd receive the tournament this year.  The routine was different this year, with me running errands each morning and hustling back to a television or, if things ran long, resigned to watching on the app.  Sure enough, even with multiple laptops at the house substituting for multiple TVs at the bar, I was done before the Friday evening session.

But, because Bokolis wasn't drained by 36 out of 48 hours spent drinking, I still had appetite for perspective.  Not coincidentally, I stumbled upon some Yahoo article on how the tournament needs a reboot.  Since this banana claims AP status, I gave him a wide enough in the hopes of some insight.  Well, I suppose I gained some, but not the insight I sought.

Now, these kids may be moving a bit too fast for Bokolis, or their ADD is far worse, or the dictionary is now Wikipedia (where anyone can edit) but, I thought reboot meant restart, or maybe even redefine the (selection) process/format.  I did not know it had come to mean forget what you've seen and change your perspective because the event has been forever redefined.

Yet, this banana decided that, just because a 2-seed (Michigan State) lost to a 15-seed (Middle Tennessee State) in the very beginning, the tournament is so fundamentally changed that there is bound to be an outlying result.  No, that is what happened in the super bowl, when, on the Panthers' first possession, they didn't award that catch and, two plays later, sack-strip-recovery-TD.  Even then, that play, while branding the game, wasn't all that different from what subsequently happened.

It works out that, on average, a (2) loses to a (15) every four years.  Given that it's more often than Bokolis would expect, it's hardly cause for uproar.  Besides, MSU got such a cushy trip last year- kind officiating, other teams' melting down, coach Izzo using his resources and abusing a system that allows for cynical tactics- that this year's crashing out amounts to mean reversion.

The historical winning percentage runs pretty consistently, from a perfect record for the top seeds to even for the 8-9 game, except for the 5-12 matchup, where the record is the same as for the 6-11 matchup.  This implies jury-rigged matchups to feed into the 5-12 legend, though Bokolis might be gulled into believing that would be giving the committee too much credit.

The writer claims it's been a tournament for the lower seeds because of the record number of wins by teams seeded 10 or higher, and then followed up with noting that three of the 9-seeds won, which is not a good look.  So, basically, he expects us to jerk off all over ourselves because some teams no one is going to miss were clipped, gashing our brackets.

When a result is perceived as outlying, some analysis is in order.  Firstly, the 7, 8, 9 and 10 seeds are interchangeable.  Their positioning and seeding is for convenience.  If a (10) beats a (7), it's not news.    It's not much more notable if a (6) beats an (11) and the the 5-12 is now a caricature.  For the purposes of addressing them, which, admittedly, is easy to do in hindsight

  • Wichita State is not an (11)- a blatant error,
  • Baylor choked against Yale and allowed some Skull & Bones, shiny-faced white-boy to light them up for 25- it might raise a People's eyebrow, but it's been known to happen,
  • Purdue's choke job- they seemed like they were actively trying to lose- makes Baylor's look like bad luck,
  • Northern Iowa was better than an (11), regardless of the half-court winner- they HAD Texas A&M and pissed it away,
  • Seton Hall (6) was grossly overseeded based on its conference tournament result and came in flat against a Gonzaga (11) side that subsequently smoked its second round opponent even worse- if you flipped the seeds, few would've batted an eye
(11) beating (6) is only significant because it happened three times.  But, we've established that the committee royally undervalued its 11-seeds, two of which had to survive Dayton for the distinction.  Individual upsets become more significant when 13-seeds and above are clipping the higher seeds.
  • Cal had no business being a 4-seed, especially with the distractions- Bokolis picked Hawai'i, so it was expected,
  • West Virginia, in addition to having a useless coach, showed the same brick-city issues it had in its Big East days, hardly deserving a 3-seed- but SFA was markedly better than a (14) and showed as much in the second round,
  • Michigan State losing is legitimately WTF?!-stunning but, as described above, amounts to mean reversion
Not leaving bad enough alone, the writer fires another, saying that the top seeds survived.  In reality, three of them beat the piss out of their opponents and North Carolina, despite sleepwalking through the first half, won comfortably.  Except for MSU, none of these are shocking, a couple were flush or meltdowns, several were cases of bad seeding and a few were even predictable.  Taking an event that happens about every four years and using it to sell that the tournament has been flipped on its head is making a mountain out of a molehill.  

After two rounds, 12 of the 16 teams are seeded 5th or better and six of the eight top seeds are still alive.  We don't need a reboot, but the writer needs a refresh, cuz he thirsty AF for a byline.

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