Quick Shots: NCAA tourney perfect size, but seeds unbalanced

Matt Trowbridge

The NCAA Tournament didn’t become a national phenomenon until it expanded from 24 teams in 1974 to 64 in 1985. The brackets make the NCAAs, letting everyone play along even if they’ve never watched a college basketball game in their life.

It’s funny, then, to hear more and more coaches complain the tourney needs to expand again. Two new tournaments mean 129 teams now play in either the NCAA, NIT, College Basketball Invitational or CollegeInsider.com tourneys. You could make it like high school and let all 344 Division I teams into the NCAAs and not add a single game simply by dumping the conference tournaments. But no one would, because that would further devalue the regular season and, more importantly, people wouldn’t fill out a 344-team (or even 128-team) bracket.

The NCAA Tournament is a perfect marketing tool as it already is. The only gripe here is the poor job of seeding. The top four seeds in the Midwest were a combined 42-12 against NCAA tournament teams this year, while the South’s top four were 27-20.

Obama goes with the chalk

The first fan may have liberal ideas to fix health care and the economy, but President Barack Obama’s NCAA picks at ESPN.com are rigidly conservative. After the first round, he picked the favorite in 25 of 29 games with no “upset” more than one seed apart. He picked two No. 1 seeds to meet for the title. His idea of upsets are one No. 2 seed in the Final Four, one No. 3 in the Elite Eight and two No. 5s in the Sweet 16.

Where’s the fun in that? Quick Shots has a No. 5 seed (Purdue) in the Final Four and a No. 4 (Wake Forest) winning the title. Of course, I haven’t won an NCAA pool since Bob Knight won his last title and regularly finish behind my four daughters.

Cheaters still don’t get it

The NCAA ruled Florida State must vacate wins in 10 sports, including as many as 14 in football, because athletes — with help from FSU staff — cheated through online testing for a music history course. The school is appealing. Football coach Bobby Bowden said there “are different degrees of doing things wrong” and likened the cheating to driving 5 mph over the speed limit. No, in college sports, academic cheating is the highest degree of cheating.

Sox load up at short, hit it big

The White Sox signing four shortstops last year was the best goofy idea since the Packers used their top three draft picks on cornerbacks in 1999; Antuan Edwards and Fred Vinson stunk, but third choice Mike McKenzie was terrific. Ditto for the White Sox. Orlando Cabrera and Juan Uribe are now, thankfully, gone, but Alexei Ramirez is already a star and Gordon Beckham, last year’s No. 1 pick, will soon be one, too. He’ll just have to learn how to play second base.

No need to change OT rule

Good for the NFL for deciding not to change the overtime rule. If teams are afraid of losing in OT without ever touching the ball, tell them to go for a two-point conversion at the end of regulation.

Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at (815) 987-1383 ormtrowbridge@rrstar.com.