Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Rest of the Story

Look, we all know the MVC has some good basketball teams. We also all know that all those teams will be gone by the second round of the NCAA Tournament. So why are they there? A down ACC? Strong mid-major performance? A changed RPI formula? Well, Craig Littlepage will cite any number of reasons why Air Force is in over Florida State. None of them hold water.

So while the middle east is all about the oil - and we all know it - there's a big elephant in the room here as well. Read this short article. Get it now? Isn't it obvious? It's all about the money. And in terms of money, the largest untapped potential for the NCAA is their newly owned property - the NIT tournament. Remember, that tourney was owned by 5 NY colleges (New York University, Fordham University, Wagner College, Manhattan College and St. John's University) and they were bought out by the NCAA for $56.5 million. Why? Well, the NCAA knew they didn't have a case when the NIT took them to court because they had a rule that a team could not actually turn down the NCAA tourney to attend the NIT. So the solution instead of losing a court case - they bought the tournament.

So now that they've dropped $56.6 million, what do they want to do? Get a return on their investment. What's the best way to do that? Get some teams in that tourney that people will watch. You put 6, count'em 6, ACC in that also-ran tourney, and now you just might start to get a few folks interested in watching. And that's just what they did.

Face it, the NCAA tournament isn't going to generate much more excitement, much more interest, or much more money than it already does. It's one of the most exciting extended events in all of sports. Do you think sending Air Force in is going to lower the interest in "the big dance"? No way. If anything, this selection controversy has created MORE interest in the tourney and MORE hype for the NIT. More material for the talking heads. So the big dance won't be hurt by this at all. But guess who will be helped? Yeah, the Not Invited Tournament.

Did you know that Gary Williams turned down his Maryland team's invite to the NIT? Did you also know that he was then informed that his athletic office signed a piece of paper gauranteeing they would show up at the NIT if invited? They did. And now his team will show up and play.

Folks, the middle east is all about the oil = money, and the NCAA is all about the money = money. It's as simple as that. Put any face on it you want, but there's the reality. This had nothing to do with "putting the best teams" in the big dance. It's about the money, pure and simple. And guess what games are now showing up more prominantly on ESPN? Yeah, the NIT games.

So now the NCAA hopes that many more of us decide to watch to find out who will be able to stand up at the end and shout "WE'RE NUMBER 66 !!!!!!!!!"