With NBA Playoff Game Ones in the books I could not help but wonder…if you made a fantasy assumption each of the sixteen teams in this tournament approached their respective Game Ones with the same sense of urgency as March Madness teams (one-and-done)… disregarding the fact they are locked into a best-of-seven schedule…look who would be the NCAA equivalent of the Elite Eight:
Eastern Conference – Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and Boston
Western Conference – Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans and Oklahoma City
Maybe it’s because so many picked the Mavs to once more make a not-so-graceful exit from the post-season this got my attention. But…picturing the Spurs and Lakers on the sidelines after a fantasy Sweet Sixteen – both of them – gives me pause.
Fact is this past weekend in the NBA makes the case more than ever when possible…a smaller number of teams and a series of games better determines a champion than a one-and-done. And as we learned so painfully this year…the more teams you bring to your party (NBA 16 versus NCAA 68), the more likelihood in a lose-and-go-home scenario by the time you get to the Final Four you run the risk of a Final Bore. Not to mention, a Final for the Ages…the Dark Ages.
I keep bashing this year’s March Madness because it reminded me again you are never too old to learn. Or, to change your mind.
At one time I was a staunch supporter of a playoff for big-time college football and was as critical of the BCS as anyone. However, I now fall squarely on the side of less is more and at least entertain the concept it’s better to pick two quality teams to play for your title than send out more invitations and water down the potential champion…especially in a one-and-done which football is.
I no longer desire inclusiveness. I want a champion worthy of the honor. No doubt, we can point to any college football season and find a TCU wondering what if. We will always debate how many teams should be in a playoff…but the bottom line is in a one-and-done situation (as football is) do you want the potential the two lowest possible seeds would meet in the national championship game?
After the college basketball season ended and Jeff Sagarin released his final rankings (Sagarin’s ratings are held by many to be more worthy of evaluation when it comes to assessing who should be included in the all-inclusive NCAA tourney), we find UConn at #4 and Butler at #22.
Do we want #4 and #22 playing for our One Shining Moment? No. The nonsense of noise about adding even more teams to the NCAA tournament needs to end. In fact, the bloated Division 1 should be re-evaluated and another Division should be created…with the tournament field simultaneously reduced from 68 to 32 teams. If not 16…
Should those teams then play a series instead of one-and-done? Of course, to get a truer champion that would only make sense.
However, sense doesn’t always prevail in life…which brings us back to the NBA Playoffs…
Who saw the Fighting Larry Birds bullying Derrick Rose to the final seconds…or Doug Collins’ Sixers almost deep-sixing the Heatles? Who knew most of the Magic would show up at the Amway Center yesterday, not realizing they played the ATL the night before (Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson got there). Nobody beats the Griz…at least not the Spurs Sunday. A couple of seasons ago the chant was “CP3 for MVP”…Chris Paul reminded us yesterday he’s still awesome…and the Lake Show’s lack of focus down the stretch was no mirage. Boston police are searching for Amar’e Stoudemire after not getting a touch with their game on the line.
Lots of wild results in the opening games of the opening round…but ultimately, the creme will rise to the top because even with the NBA letting most of their teams into the post-season…the number of invitations sent is contained…the number of games is extended…and the ultimate champion will have truly earned the distinction.