In last week's post, this blog discussed how fun -- but how terrible -- college basketball's system is for crowning a champion here in the United States. It got us thinking, though. What if we rewrote this system, too?
So that's what we did. In our own minds, of course.
It started by dividing all the teams up by state. Geography, believe it or not, plays a big part in creating rivalries. North Carolina, for example, has UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, and NC State in one metropolitan area. Indiana has something similar with Butler, Purdue, Indiana, and Notre Dame.
In the case of Indiana, though, conferences get in the way, as discussed in the last post.
What if we got rid of those pesky conferences, though, as farfetched as that seems, and we replaced them with geographical pods instead (pun intended)? From there, you keep the same system that American sports fans have come to love -- even though parts of it are still terrible.
First, by creating an equal system based on geography -- rather than conference invitation -- you have a better regular season structure to determine postseason teams. With 20 pods, you can give the top two teams automatic tournament bids, giving importance to the regular season.
At the end of the regular season, have a tournament for each pod that rewards the tournament winner with another automatic bid. As many as 60 of 68 bids would be filled. Allow the same selection committee to round out the field -- lucky losers, if you will. If a team with an auto bid already wins their pod's tournament, then the committee just gets another bid to fill.
From there, as painful as it is, March Madness would crown a champion. At least you are doing more to get the best teams around the country into the tournament in the first place, rather than rewarding those who happen to play well for one week in February.
Interested in that state-by-state breakdown of teams? Don't worry; we did the work for you. Here's the list in alphabetical order:
Alabama (8) – UAB, Auburn, Alabama, Samford, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Troy, South Alabama
Arizona (4) – Northern Arizona, Arizona, Arizona State, Grand Canyon
Arkansas (5) – Arkansas, Central Arkansas, Arkansas PB, Arkansas State, Little Rock
California (24) – Sacramento State, UC Davis, UCSB, UC Irvine, CS Fullerton, Long Beach State, Cal Poly, UC Riverside, CS Northridge, Oakland, San Diego State, Fresno State, San Jose State, USC, UCLA, Stanford, California, St. Mary’s, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Cal Bakersfield
Colorado (5) – Northern Colorado, Air Force, Colorado State, Colorado, Denver
Connecticut (6) – Hartford, UConn, Fairfield, Quinnipiac, Central Connecticut State, Sacred Heart
Delaware (2) – Delaware, Delaware State
Florida (14) – Miami, Florida State, UCF, South Florida, FGCU, Jacksonville, North Florida, Stetson, FIU, FAU, Bethune Cookman, Florida A&M, Jacksonville State, Florida
Georgia (7) – Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Savannah State, Georgia, Mercer, Georgia State, Georgia Southern
Hawaii (1) – Hawaii
Idaho (3) – Idaho, Idaho State, Boise State
Illinois (13) – DePaul, Northwestern, Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Northern Illinois, Loyola (CHI), Southern Illinois, Illinois State, Bradley, Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois U. Evansville, Western Illinois, Chicago State
Indiana (10) – Notre Dame, Butler, Purdue, Indiana, IUPUI, Ball State, Indiana State, Evansville, Valparaiso, IPFW
Iowa (4) – Iowa State, Iowa, Drake, Northern Iowa
Kansas (3) – Wichita State, Kansas, Kansas State
Kentucky (6) – Louisville, Western Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Kentucky
Louisiana (12) – Tulane, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Nicholls State, SE Louisiana, New Orleans, McNeese State, Northwestern State, Grambling, Southern, Louisiana, UL Monroe
Maine (1) – Maine
Maryland (9) – UMBC, Maryland, Towson, Morgan State, Coppin State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Mount St. Mary’s, Navy, Loyola (MD)
Massachusetts (6) – UMass Lowell, Boston College, Northeastern, Harvard, Boston, Holy Cross
Michigan (6) – Michigan State, Michigan, Detroit, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan
Minnesota (1) – Minnesota
Mississippi (6) – Southern Miss, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Jackson State, Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley
Missouri (4) – Missouri State, SE Missouri State, Missouri, UMKC
Montana (2) – Montana, Montana State
Nebraska (3) – Creighton, Nebraska, Nebraska Omaha
Nevada (2) – Nevada, UNLV
New Hampshire (2) – New Hampshire, Dartmouth
New Jersey (7) – N.J. Tech, Seton Hall, Princeton, Rider, Monmouth, St. Peter’s, Fairleigh Dickinson
New Mexico (2) – New Mexico, New Mexico State
New York (22) – Albany, Stony Brook, Binghamton, Syracuse, St. John’s, Rutgers, Hofstra, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Canisius, Iona, Niagara, Manhattan, Siena, Marist, Buffalo, Wagner, LIU Brooklyn, St. Francis (NY), Colgate, Army
North Carolina (17) – Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Wake Forest, East Carolina, UNC Asheville, Campbell, High Point, Gardner Webb, UNC Wilmington, Elon, UNC Charlotte, North Carolina A&T, NC Central, UNC Greensboro, Western Carolina, Appalachian State
North Dakota (2) – North Dakota, North Dakota State
Ohio (12) – Cincinnati, Xavier, Ohio State, Wright State, Cleveland State, Youngstown State, Kent State, Miami (OH), Bowling Green, Ohio, Akron, Toledo
Oklahoma (4) – Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts
Oregon (5) – Portland State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Portland
Pennsylvania (11) – Pittsburgh, Villanova, Penn State, Drexel, Penn, St. Francis (PA), Robert Morris, Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, Citadel
Rhode Island (3) – Providence, Brown, Bryant
South Carolina (11) – Clemson, SC Upstate, Winthrop, Charleston Southern, Presbyterian, Charleston, SC State, South Carolina, Furman, Wofford, Coastal Carolina
South Dakota (2) – South Dakota, South Dakota State
Tennessee (13) – Memphis, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee, Belmont, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State, Murray State, Austin Peay, UT Martin, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, East Tennessee State, Chattanooga
Texas (22) – Houston, SMU, Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor, UT San Antonio, North Texas, UTEP, Rice, Texas A&M, SF Austin, Sam Houston, Lamar, Abilene Christian, Texas A&M CC, Incarnate Word, Houston Baptist, Prairie View, Texas Southern, UT Arlington, Texas State, UT Rio Grande Valley
Utah (6) – Weber State, Southern Utah, Utah State, Utah, BYU, Utah Valley
Vermont (1) – Vermont
Virginia (11) – Virginia, Virginia Tech, Radford, Liberty, Longwood, William & Mary, James Madison, Old Dominion, Hampton, Norfolk State, VMI
Washington (5) – Eastern Washington, Washington, Washington State, Gonzaga, Seattle
Washington DC (3) – Georgetown, Howard, American
West Virginia (2) – West Virginia, Marshall
Wisconsin (4) – Marquette, Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Green Bay
Wyoming (1) – Wyoming