Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tuesday 03/13 A.M. Quickie:
How Can You NOT Love the Play-In?

Today's Lead: How to make the NCAA Play-In Game sexier:

Oh, I'll 'fess up willingly: I love the NCAA Play-In Game. But I'm finding it hard to articulate why. Maybe it's the utter futility of it:

How the two teams have the ignominy of SHARING a line in the printed bracket. Or how the losing team doesn't even get the thrill of playing on the first day of the Tournament.

Or how the game isn't included in bracket office-pools, even though it could be a total-point difference-maker!

I'm such a fan of the Play-In, I've even put in the thought to figure out a few suggestions of how to improve it -- to make it sexier, if you will:

(1) Stop playing it in Dayton. No offense to Dayton, but the symbolism of playing it in Dayton alone kills any buzz this game might have. Rotate the locations, the more buzz-worthy the better: Cameron Indoor, Vegas, the Superdome, Rucker Park, who knows? But we're playing hoops here, not solving the tension in Bosnia.

(Update: Already, I have heard from many fans in Dayton. I didn't mean to dis your town. I respect and appreciate your passion, particularly your warm and generous hosting of the Play-In game.)

(2) Give the Play-In loser an automatic bid (and home game) in the NIT. Seed 31 NIT teams but leave a slot open for the NCAA Play-In loser. Give them a chance to get more pub (and gate receipts) than the Play-In.

(3) Insist the Play-In be included as the annual NCAA Tournament bracket office-pool. The major stumbling blocks have been (a) pool organizers want to allow for as much time as possible for people to submit brackets, and (b) who cares: the Play-In winner has zero chance of beating a 1-seed. But it would get the pool-scoring off to a fast start and get people talking. "I'm winning my pool: 1 point!" Yeah, that means you have to turn in your sheet by end-of-business Tuesday, but admit it: Your bracket was finished Monday morning anyway.

Update (4): Several readers/emailers/commenters have thrown out a way to make the Play-In game truly spectacular: Make all four 16-seeds a Play-In. That increases the at-large bids by three more teams (which should make Drexel, Syracuse and Air Force fans happy) and turns the 16-seed into a much more interesting drama.

(And don't even think about arguing about the classic "integrity" of the 64-team bracket. They were happy enough to change -- and fans willing enough to accept -- going from "64" to "65." So, really, what's so bastardized about "68?")

Mock if you want. I'll be following the game.

Speaking of which, the game tonight: FAMU? Hell, they only have the best band in the country. Niagara? They are so pissed that they're in the play-in game that they have managed to play the disrespect card... in the Play-In Game! (Deadspin has the preview from two team experts themselves!) Pick: Niagara.

In case you missed it: I had a column in the Wall Street Journal Online breaking down the Tournament.

And WOW: Today, there's even a follow-up column unveiling my bracket picks. Here it is. Read it! Read it now! Pass it around!Oh, I cannot wait for your dissection of my idiocy. (I'll have a full discussion of my picks tomorrow.)

"Expert" picks: Needless to say, I'm a little disappointed that my "inspired" Final Four of Florida, UCLA, Texas A&M and Georgetown seems to be the hot pick for many others: Andy Katz, Michael Wilbon, NYT's Pete Thamel, DC Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg. Damn, it's hard to be a novelty act these days!

And, always an annual favorite, Deadspin has started rolling out its team-by-team previews, each with a different specialist author. When he finally gets to the Gators preview, you might just see a familiar name. (No, not "Joakim." D'oh!)

Women's Selection Monday: What does it say that the only team that moves the needle among casual (non) women's hoops fans is seeing where LSU was seeded and then saying, "So how 'bout that Pokey?"

(I'm sympathetic to picking Maryland: Like Florida, they return all their starters from last year's national-title team. Don't sleep on them. Or, in Pokey's case, with them.)

Player to watch? And I truly mean: WATCH this player – Courtney Paris from Oklahoma. Just a sophomore, she could be the best player in the WNBA today. Presuming she stays all four years (and doesn't, say, sue the WNBA for early entry), she'll go down as the most dominating women's hoops post player of all time. But she needs a title.

Meanwhile, where is the NIT Bracket Challenge? Online or offline, I don't care. Now that the NIT is a bracket-friendly 32 teams, I want my damn pool. (BTW: Does anyone know the names of the teams snubbed by the NIT?)

Tournament Challenge Sign-Up: Don't forget to sign up for the "Daily Quickie Readers" group of the ESPN.com Tournament Challenge. Come on: You get FIVE entries. You're telling me this can't be one of 'em?

NBA: Mavs win streak ends at 17 after being thumped by the Warriors. Plus: Leandro Barbosa hits career-high 32 for 2nd time in 3 games.

NFL: Moss to Packers rumors heat up! Favre-to-Moss = Hilarious.

NHL: Great Evgeny's ghost! The Penguins will be staying in Pittsburgh!

Last thought: Is there any exercise more worthless than voting in the college hoops Top 25 ranking that comes out the day after Selection Sunday?

-- D.S.


Unknown said...

I don't know why so many people are picking Georgetown over UNC in their region. It's like they've been enthralled by the Ewing/Thompson/4-letter network hype machine. This isn't 1986, people.

As for Courtney Paris, that was the one 3-seed I did not want to see the Terps get in the Sweet 16. Ouch.

CMFost said...

If you love the play in game so much then you would love my idea of having each bracket have a play in game as a way of expanding the field to 68 teams.

And you know what the funny thing is even if you added 3 more team I think Syracuse is still out because if I remember correctly they had the 4th best RPI of the team that got "snubbed"

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

Akron...a team snubbed by the NIT.

``It's a crime for the kids. The whole weekend was a crime,'' Zips coach Keith Dambrot said. ``It sets the program back and makes me have to run uphill with the program after all the hard work we have done. But, most importantly, it's sad for the kids.''

``I have had a lot of unfortunate things happen in my life, coaching things, disappointments,'' Dambrot said. ``I have never seen anything this unjust in my life. They can't rationalize this. There is no quantitative way to say we didn't deserve it.''

via Akron Beacon Journal

Unknown said...

I'm in a state of calm anxiety as I wait for the first round of games.
I can't say that I share the love for the play-in game though. I don't dislike it, per se, but I don't think an automatic qualifier should play in it. It should be an at large team (like say, Stanford v Michigan State?) that comes out of that game.

Gary said...

I'll give you some NIT snubs...Akron from the MAC, 26 wins, no post-season tourney.

Rhode Island from the Atlantic 10, great conference record, finished 4th in a "high-mid-major" conference and made it to conference finals game.

Washington from the Pac-10, they were starting to be mentioned as an NCAA sleeper, but didn't even make the NIT.

I want to say UConn was snubbed, but even as an alum, I don't believe it.

Other than that, I can't think of any others.

BD said...

Akron I do believe is an NIT snub Dan.

jhawkjjm said...

Have you actually seen Courtney Paris? No wonder she's so dominating she's an absolute beast. She's 6'4" and probably about 300 pounds. (Of course there's no weight listed on the OU page...like any woman would give her weight). She makes the Oklahoma offensive line look small.

I'll be watching the play-in game tonight just to see who KU gets to play Friday. A fun use of the play in game would be to guess the winner and score and use that as your pool tie breaker!

Matt T said...

If you can find a NIT challenge, I'd be in. I filled out one yesterday. I think Iowa was a team that was irked they didn't make the NIT

Outlaw Genius said...

'Don't sleep on them. Or, in Pokey's case, with them.'

Wow, a Pokey jokey that was both funny and unexpected. Well done.

Pete said...

Whoo hoo the Pens stay in Pittsburgh! One of the great franchises in the NHL is not moving to KC. This is a great day especially when one looks at how great relocated teams like the Jets are doing in their new markets. No mention of the NHLPA implosion Dan???

NA said...

Teams snubbed by the NIT, UConn and Fordham come to mind.

Big D said...

"Don't sleep on them. Or, in Pokey's case, with them."

Best.Throw-away Line.Ever. Way to make me cough up half my morning coffee while giggling at that one. Thanks.

Like that "Play-in Loser is the NIT 1 seed" idea... Although, doesn't the NIT try to distance itself from the NCAA tourney, so it doesn't look like they're the second-tier tournament?

By the way - why doesn't "Overall Tourney #1" Florida get the Play-In winner? Why is Kansas so fortunate? Are they trying to guarantee Bill Self a first round victory?

I'm starting to feel like my Final Four of Wisco/UCLS/Texas/tOSU is really going out on a limb, and I've got a 1/2/2/4...

By the way - you wanna know why the Mavericks lost last night? Because for the first time in a year, I had money on an NBA game... Mavs(-8) and the Over(206). Figures.

(also, if this comment posts like 17 times, I apologize... having network issues here in the office this morning)

Brian in Oxford said...

I know one team snubbed by the NIT. Connecticut.

The Feed said...

The final Top 25 poll doesn't seem that much more useless than every one that precedes it. With a tournament that is seeded without much notice given to the Poll, there's not much point to it at any point.

Trey (formerly TF) said...


This will bemy last playin game this year as I am graduating and leaving Dayton. I couldn't agree more, it's a lot of fun for basketball fans to watch. I just feel bad that one team has to go home so quickly.

I agree the loser should get an NIT bid, good idea.

Anyway I have adopted FAMU for this evening as I am from Florida and gotta have more than one team from the Sunshine State playing Friday.

Joe (Dayton)

David K. Bellman said...

Some people say I may take the fun out of it but I think if your a numbers guy it could be more fun with a model. A free model is available at ihavetheege.com The model has over 20 metrics you can change and your bracket will be filled out.

In addition using last year we have developed a weighting system for those 20+ metrics to produce a final answer with only 2 games unpredictable. We are offering a guarentee on our model result. Please check it out and give comments

Boomhauertjs said...

Dan, don't knock Dayton unless you've been there. UD Arena is one of the loudest in the country and the fans have been called some of the most loyal college hoops fans in the country (and considering the mediocrity of the program over the past 25 years, it's pretty impressive that they pack that 13,000 seat arena almost every game). UD is a much more worthy place than somewhere like Cameron Indoor, where all of the Dukie front-runner fans probably wouldn't even show up for a play-in game.
Dan, make a trip to UD sometime and make sure after the game you ask someone to take you to Tim's and "The Ghetto".

CMFost said...

My Final Four -
Ohio State

UCLA over Ohio State in the NC Game

ToddTheJackass said...

There's a great article on graduation rates of NCAA basketball players (specifically addressing Black players Grad rates), that's worth checking out. Here's a small tidbit:

The 23 games are corrupted by at least one team with either an overall Graduation Success Rate of less than 50 percent and/or a black player graduation rate of less than 50 percent. Thirty of the 65 teams have one or both problems, (Division 1 men's basketball is 63 percent black in scholarship athletes).

Here's the link to the full article.

watzalt said...

I think Moss in Green Bay is a great idea. Nothing will push Favre into retirement quicker than dealing with a selfish ass like Moss.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...


i'm sorry...did you just break out a timothy's bar and grill reference? now i've heard it all on this blog.

no other arena in the country would get 8,000-10,000 fans for a play in game. Dayton is a basketball town b/c there is nothing else to do! well...except having a wall at timothy's bar and grill. or a fieldhouse fishbowl.

i'm thirsty.

Unknown said...

One other team left out of the NIT....Iowa (#4 seed in the Big Ten Tourney).

John Paul Manahan said...

well... uconn did not earn any bid for that matter... maybe next year.

i agree with the akron snub.

when i did my bracket, i realized that i did have the same 4 of texas a&m, florida, ucla, and georgetown.

g'town has experience on their side compared to the heels, and their portion of the bracket is killer.

Mikepcfl said...

Good luck Setherton not hearing any results before you can watch the recorded games! I dont think you could go on any blog site or watch any tv network without hearing results. But I wish you the best.

As for the play-in game, I think we need to root for Niagara. They seem underseeded and pissed off. I wont predict it, but this is the scenario you need to have a 16 knock off a 1. And what better candidate than perennial choker Kansas?

Brian in Oxford said...

One of these years my tourney pool will hinge on the extra 3 points I give for people who get the Tuesday game right. But it's never made a difference. (The best part was winning the pool without getting the final game right, over someone who did. Anyone can pick a favorite to win it all....you make your $ on the in-between rounds)

Lou Pickney said...

I hate the play-in game. But, if it must go on, I think holding it in Las Vegas would make the most sense.

As for office pools, with the play-in game taking place on Tuesday, including the play-in would severely limit the capacity for people to distribute and collect tournament pool sheets.

WuzUpG said...

That's it? A 17-game streak busted and that's all Dan wrote? Why not write about how the Warriors got drubbed the night before by Portland, while the Mavs smoked the Lakers. Then the following day, the tables turned.

I was at the game. The house was rockin', as the Warriors scored the first 8 points and were up by 30+ at one time. The Warriors are 1 game away from demolishing a 12-year non-playoff streak! I BELIEVE!

Unknown said...

Ooooh, that Pokey-MD quip was a low blow...unlike you, no pun intended.

Where's a good NIT bracket challenge? The field is deep.

jhawkjjm said...

Those studies are always interesting but don't really give the full picture. That is only looking at graduation rates of black players, not overall graduation rates. Now I was at KU from 1996-2000 (the years of the study) and I honestly can't remember everyone who played during that time. But I know the class with Hinrich, Collison, and Drew Gooden are in there. Hinrich and Collison stayed all 4 years and graduated on time, Gooden went pro after his junior year and I have no idea if he got his degree. In all honesty, while Roy Williams was there, there were lots of white players signed as well as black players. So only focusing on black player graduation is misleading in respect to KU during that time frame.

I also do know that the foursome of Aaron Miles, Keith Langford, Michael Lee, and Wayne Simien all graduated. So the numbers will bounce back up when that class is included in the study.

Precourt said...

How about this for a way to "sexy" up the play-in game. What's the most occured upset year in and year out. 5s v 12s. Instead of 2 teams playing to get a 16 seed and get destroyed by a number one seed, leave a 12 seed open for an at large bid. Give both the original "play-in" teams a spot as 15/16th seeds. Then let the 2 "last teams in" play for a 12th seed.

This year I'm assuming it was Arkansas and Illinois. We all know 12's beat 5's every year so while we were watching we would know the winning team had a chance to win a first round game. (or more) How fun would it be watching teams with major conference talent fighting for their lives for the last tournament spot.

I have another suggestion but I don't quite know how it would work. It would be different each year also which I'm not sure people would be able to be sold on.

Teams like Toledo in the MAC work all year and win games all year to win their regular season conference. Then it comes down to the tournament and they have one bad game or someone on the opposing team has one huge game and they lose a bid. I say give automatic bids to all regular season and tournament conference champions.

Sheldiz said...

i can't believe i planned a trip out of the country starting the first weekend of the tournament....

i guess i will be laying down some cash at internet cafes in london this weekend.

somehow i don't think the brits will be anxiously awaiting the Villanova/Kentucky game as much as i am...

Precourt said...

I forgot to add the regular season champions that didn't win their conference tournament and didn't get into the big dance could play each other or they could each play a major conference team that was on the bubble in a series of play in games.

ToddTheJackass said...

Honestly, I could care less about the play in game. But if they care a lot about it in Dayton, then that probably is the best place for the game.

I also don't like having the play in game count toward the bracket, since it's usually a coin toss game, or one where no one has ever seen either team play, so there's not a whole lot of 'skill' involved with the pick.

And the problem with doing an NIT bracket is then having to watch the NIT. Honestly, if your team isn't in it, who watches the NIT? Doesn't Poker or Hockey get better ratings?

What's the status of the comment moderation? Any updates Dan?

Brian in Oxford said...

The NIT used to just pick schools that drew well to get all the home games (like UConn, whenever they're in it).

Is that changing with the seedings? Will the 1 seeds get 3 home games before MSG? Or can lower seeds get home games?

Precourt said...

There were 7 regular season conference champions that didn't make it into the tournament. Vermont, ETSU, Austin Peay, Deleware St, Toledo, Marist, South Ala.

Besides South Ala. who's conference record was 13-5, they all had at least 14 wins and no more than 4 losses.

Vermont was 15-1 in their conference 25-7 overall. They went on the road to Maryland and Mich St and lost. They went on the road to Boston College and won. They swept Albany winning by 9 and 4 points. Won the conference regular season over Albany by 2 games. Then on one day in March they lose to Albany by 1 point and are excluded from the tournament.

Like I said, it would'nt be the same every year, so there would be no set way to do it, but maybe some of these other readers have some suggestions.

Darkness said...

Re: Long Beach State "Has ANYONE seen them play"...I have, and I have them going to the sweet 16 in my bracket. They can score. Phoenix Suns style score. They put up 64 points in the second half of the Big West Championship game. Look out for their big guard Aaron Nixon...Ignorance is what kills brackets..homework is necessary.

Brian in Oxford said...

How about 2 teams from every league, plus 2 at-larges, for a total of 64.

Dan Shanoff said...

See, Chuck? This is why you're going to win the pool. There is a HUGE advantage to seeing some of these lesser-known teams (particularly the West Coast ones that NEVER get coverage or attention out East) in advance of the tournament.

If they beat Tennessee, I could easily see them beating the UVA-Albany winner. Hell, I see Albany BEATING Virginia.

The question is this: How does LBS's style match up favorably with Tennessee? Fast pace is right in Tennessee's wheelhouse. They have no size and depend on pace to run their system. Remember hectic UW-Milwaukee the past few Tournaments? That was the Bruce Pearl system. LBS seems to play right into the Vols' hands. (And I'm no Vols fan.)

Unknown said...

A&M is Wisconsin but with offense.

...and still no presence to stop Oden.

DougOLis said...

I saw most of the Long Beach - Cal Poly game on Saturday and it was high paced on both sides, but a lot of that may have been due to inept defenses. They had one guy who tore it up, I think he's a senior too, which is always a good sign for your underdog teams. I'm worried about their mediocre 3-point shooting. All-in-all I don't think it's too promising (famous last words); they should be able to keep up with Tenn but I don't see them stopping them.

ToddTheJackass said...

Wow, sure seems like a lot of people are down on UVA. Talk about a team that flew under the radar. I mean they have a lot of what people like for teams to get to the Sweet Sixteen--good guard play, upperclassmen(Reynolds, Singletary).

They're a solid team. Give 'em a chance.

DougOLis said...

Oregon has been on fire lately. I didn't really see them during the beginning of the season when they started so hot. They looked extremely beatable during a good portion of the Pac-10 season even when they were winning, but they've absolutely destroyed everyone lately.

Aldo Quintanilla said...

Hey Dan, 3 extra play in games makes for 6 more at-large bids (after all its 2 teams playing each other a game).

Jared said...

Who cares about the Not Invited Tournament?

chitown italian said...

I know this is Tourney time but Lance Briggs (the baby getting $7 MILLION this year as the Bear's franchise player) is being a bitch.

Let him have it.

Email him at: ask55@lancebriggs.com

Richard K. said...

I'm in a bracket pool worth $25,000 to the winner.

Final Four:
Texas A&M

With Kansas beating Georgetown for the title.

Someone tell me I'm nuts so I can change my pick.

edub.rulez said...

NIT snub = Akron

Many people have already posted regarding last weekend's chain of events. What I would like to add is that on top of their 26 wins is the fact that they have everybody back from a team that WAS in the NIT last year and won a first round game on the road.

Unknown said...

What happened to my post on Isiah Thomas's contract being renewed?

Must have been a glitch.

Anyhow, can you believe that idiot Dolan is signing Thomas to an extension. AHHHHHH. I was rooting hard for the Knicks to lose so he would get fired.
I am officially a Nets fan now.

I also like the Nuggets (due to Carmelo and Camby) and the Mavs (due to Cuban).

The Big Picture said...

NIT Snub:

Washington Huskies.

Reaction by players/coaches was similar to Syracuse being left out of the Big Dance.

Agamemnon said...

Why Dayton Deserves the Play-In Game---

[first off, just let me state that I believe that the play-in game should involve the last two at large seeds, and they should be seeded at 12-14, whatever is applicable]

Interstate 70 runs from Maryland (Baltimore) to Utah (where it runs into I-80).

Interstate 75 runs from Miami Beach to Sault Ste. Marie (that is canada folks).

Seems to me, that Dayton is stuck in the middle of the country. Not Only that, but UD Arena is a loogie away from I-75. Damn, how easy is it to get to the arena from teh
interstate? Almost too easy.

And it is Dayton. I am fairly certain that the only other thing going on tonight was the ummm, well, sometimes interesting things happen in Dayton that are not B-Ball related.

With that in mind, what the hell ever happens in Dayton? I have been here two years, and the only things in town that have interested me are the hosting of the Tourney last year, and the play-in game this year.

This is not Tobacco Road, this is on the outskirts of Big Ten country, this is an area that wants sports.

This is a place that can bring out 8,000 fans for a game between two teams vying for a chance to get whooped by Kansas.

This is the heart of america. This
is, dare I say it, our country.

Please, name another venue that will care about a NCAA play in game. The Dukies will not care. Vegas? Are you kidding me, maybe you can find enough celbrities to fill the stands for an NBA All-Star game, but Dayton is much closer to the East Coast, where the play in teams usually come from (like the NCAA will put up for a plane trip); etc.

Dayton wants it, can you say as much about any other place.

I just noticed Dan's update, that Daytonians came out in favor of the play in game.

Oh yeah, and did you see the shootout tonight, between Pitt and Buffalo---Crosby is freaking unreal. IF you all cared bout sports you would cover a 19 year old leading the league in points, rather than the thuggery.

Learn to enjoy the brilliance (like Pujols' Swing) without judging the extraneous (like a bench clearing brawl (NHL has not had one in at least 20 years) or the gamesmanship of a brushback).

Those that ignore the NHL are missing something special. This Kid, Crosby, (I saw him take the puck over the blueline, one on two, and thought to myself "what the hell are you doing kid?" only to see him take the puck deep into the zone, fight off two checkers, on his own, and deliver a pin point centering pass to his unsuspecting linemate), he may seem too small, I thought that at first too, but the kid has a nose for the game. Give him two years with the same linemates, and he WILL hit 175 assists.

The Kid is special, he may not be the next Gretzky, but he is so close, you will never know the difference.

One Wanker said...

Dude... it is Dayton.... for that they deserve scorn... Dayton is a shithole -- and don't bother apologizing for it. it is not like they can produce proof to counter the argument -- stick to your guns... Dayton - was, is and will always be a shithole!

(if they want to use that as the revised municipal slogan - we can talk about monetary compensation)