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March 18, 2014

RONN MOTT: Thank you, NCAA

The MEAC, the MAAC and the MAC. Do you know? And how much do you know mixed with how much do you care? Now we know the MAC, they’re practically home boys. That’s Northern Illinois, Ball State and a handful of teams in Ohio. But you get reacquainted with some of these schools because of the NCAA Tournament.

Cal Poly is going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. They are better known for their engineering stealth, a mixing up of the card section of various bowl games making the cards say things their host school doesn’t want them to say. Now, in the NCAA Tournament, they’ll have to be grown-ups and play to win just like everyone else.   

Can you name the third-place team in the Sun Belt Conference? I didn’t think so. How about who won the Southland Conference? And do we do this just so the NCAA officials will have something to do annually to justify their existence?  

Jay Bilas had a really good idea … the NCAA Tournament should be selected before the conference tournaments. The invitation based entirely on who wins the conference, other selections to be made later by the officials of the NCAA. If your conference, and almost are this way, has a guaranteed selection to the conference tournament winner, why worry about the amount of victories during the season? A great many of these conference champions will be the only team going from your conference since you get one guaranteed, but only one.

Here’s the deal. Everybody at a Division I school gets to play until an eventual winner gets selected. That’s it. Nice and easy, light and breezy. Games are played until someone wins the whole thing. Don’t tell me it can’t be done. High schools all over America participate in this kind of tournament every year. The difference between them is rather small. The college tournaments, the Division I tournaments, make money their conferences feel they need. Logistically, it could be handled.

Thank you, NCAA, for allowing us to see the initials of the MEAC, the MAAC and the plain old MAC. But you have to ask yourself, how long can Albany, in their 1920s uniforms, last in the Missouri Valley Conference if they’re playing against MVC schools? Not very long.  

So, no matter how many puny acronyms representing puny conferences get their teams in the NCAA, many of them simply are not very good. Why the NCAA fills their bowl full of alphabet soup made by these acronym-named conferences no one knows. Except in a very small region of the country, it continues on.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves and throw the doors wide open. If you meet the qualifications for Division I basketball, let us pursue the idea of everybody getting to play. I certainly am not the first to suggest this, nor will I be the last.  

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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