The March To March: Mid-major tournaments need tweaking

Philadelphia, PA ( - Most mid-major conference tournaments are like a lottery.

That needs to change. The regular season should not be meaningless.

More leagues need to look at the Ohio Valley Conference and implement a double-bye system where the top two teams in the standings don't play their first tourney game until the semifinals.

I'll even go a step further. Why not give the regular season winner a bye all the way to the tournament final and have the No. 2 seed skip right to the semis.

Seems fair, right?

Just nine of the 31 conference tournament victors a year ago won the regular season crown.

And why do most conferences invite EVERY team to their tournament? Why should a team that goes less than .500 in their respective league have a shot to make it into the Big Dance?

Here's just one example of injustice. In 2012, top-seeded Middle Tennessee lost to ninth-seeded Arkansas State in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament. Why should a dominant team like the Blue Raiders be punished for going 27-7 and 14-2 in the Sun Belt during the regular season?

By the way, your Sun Belt tourney winner that year ... No. 7 seed and 16-19 Western Kentucky, which went just 7-9 in the league during the regular season.

MTSU was left hanging on Selection Sunday.

That's just not right.

Here are the five worst teams -- by winning percentage -- to ever make the NCAA Tournament: 1961 George Washington (9-16), 1995 Florida International (11-18), 1996 Central Florida (11-18), 1997 Fairfield (11-18) and 1999 Florida A&M (12-18).

Two 20-loss teams have made it to the Big Dance, Liberty (15-21) in 2013 and Coppin State (16-20) in 2008.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't be opposed to conferences using the Ivy League method and scrapping their tournaments all together, but that's not happening. These tournaments generate too much revenue.

A majority of the lower tier conferences are set to begin their tournaments this week and most of them are sending just one team to the NCAA tourney.

Some exceptions might include the Southern (Wofford), Southland (Stephen F. Austin), Ohio Valley (Murray State), MAAC (Iona) and Horizon League (Valparaiso and Green Bay).

Of these schools Wofford has the best resume, although it's going to be tough for any of them to make it in as an at-large.

The Terriers are 2-2 against the RPI top-50 with victories at North Carolina State and at home against Iona. They are also 3-4 against the top-100 and just two of their six losses have come against teams ranked outside the top-100.

March is here, let the madness begin!


MIDWEST (Cleveland)

1. Kentucky* vs. 16. St. Francis (NY)*/Texas Southern* winner

8. St. John's vs. 9. Colorado State

4. Louisville vs. 13. Stephen F. Austin*

5. West Virginia vs. 12. Harvard*

6. Georgetown vs. 11. Temple

3. Maryland vs. 14. South Dakota State*

7. VCU vs. 10. Ole Miss

2. Kansas* vs. 15. High Point*

SOUTH (Houston)

1. Duke vs. 16. New Mexico State*

8. Iowa vs. 9. Dayton*

4. Iowa State vs. 13. Valparaiso*

5. Arkansas vs. 12. Iona*

6. Butler vs. 11. Texas A&M

3. Wichita State* vs. 14. UC Davis*

7. Ohio State vs. 10. NC State

2. Arizona* vs. 15. Albany*

EAST (Syracuse)

1. Virginia* vs. 16. North Florida*/Bucknell* winner

8. Oklahoma State vs. 9. Georgia

4. Utah vs. 13. Murray State*

5. Northern Iowa vs. 12. Purdue/Boise State winner

6. Providence vs. 11. Wofford*

3. Baylor vs. 14. Georgia State*

7. Indiana vs. 10. Cincinnati

2. Gonzaga* vs. 15. Northeastern*

WEST (Los Angeles)

1. Villanova* vs. 16. Sacramento State*

8. LSU vs. 9. Michigan State

4. Oklahoma vs. 13. Louisiana Tech*

5. North Carolina vs. 12. Tulsa*

6. SMU* vs. 11. Texas/Oregon winner

3. Notre Dame vs. 14. Toledo*

7. San Diego State* vs. 10. Xavier

2. Wisconsin* vs. 15. North Carolina Central*







Old Dominion




* - denotes conference leader. In a result of a tie atop the standings, the team with the higher RPI was chosen.