James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Make Basketball Like Tennis

Yes, I'll be rooting for George Mason University in the NCAA Final Four. It's the classic underdog, etc. etc. Plus, the University's named after a man whose proposals should have been more closely followed at the Constitutional Convention, and whose opposition to the new Constitution instigated the adoption of the Bill of Rights.

That said, ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd had a good point Thursday morning. The best team wins the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, and, yes, even college football's unofficial national championship. The same could hardly be said if George Mason wins the NCAA Tournament - and in this Final Four, they can.

On the other hand, GMU did beat the #'s 7,3,6, and 1 seeds in their own 16-team region to make it this far. No one else had a tougher road. If they reel off two more wins like this to end the season winning six straight against good to very good opponents, they certainly "deserve" to win the NCAA Tournament.

But do they "deserve" to win a national championship, to go down in history as the finest team of the 2005-06 basketball season?

That, I'm not so sure.

A George Mason-like run happens maybe once a generation. Every year, a "dark horse" can win any of the Triple Crown races - and often does. In golf and tennis, anyone in the field can "come out of nowhere," play the tournament of their lives, upset the Tiger Woods's and Roger Federers of the world, and win a Grand Slam event. It can never be taken away from them. But winning one major tournament doesn't establish that they were the player of the year. Even winning the Daytona 500 doesn't make one the NASCAR champion.

But in NCAA basketball, it all rides on the one tournament. The conference regular season crown, the conference tournament crown - they mean nothing. The NCAA's are like saying that Pat Cash was the best tennis player of 1987 because he won Wimbledon. Never mind what Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, or Mats Wilander did. Never mind the other tournaments, major and minor. In the NCAA's, if one team is just good enough to make the Tournament, and then get hot during the tournament, we are supposed to assume it is the best team in the land. No - it was the best team only at that time of year.

Again, I don't want to diminish what GMU's accomplished. I'm rooting for them. I'm just saying that two or three other major tournaments of 32 or 64 teams, and other tournaments of 16 teams, and even smaller round-robins would establish a more interesting picture of the season.

I could say the same of amateur and pro baseball and hockey. The football season is one long tournament, because one game a week is enough. But if it is possible to play on two, three, or even four consecutive days, then the sport is made for the tournament format.

That's what I'd like to see. George Mason would get their due for playing this well in the NCAA's, but other teams could boast of their victories in other "major" tournaments, or of collecting trophies in several "minor" tournaments.


  1. "The best team wins the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, and, yes, even college football's unofficial national championship. The same could hardly be said if George Mason wins the NCAA Tournament."

    I don't know if I disagree with your logic as much as with your premise. All of what you wrote about college basketball could be said about pro football, basketball, and especially baseball. The team with the best record over 162 games can be bested by a second-place team. The team that won the Super Bowl this year was arguably the sixth-best team in the AFC.

    There are already 30-odd "minor" tournaments in college basketball -they're called conference tourneys. I wouldn't change a thing about the NCAA tournament, and I wouldn't hesitate to call George Mason the champions.

  2. Anonymous2:54 PM PST

    Blasphemy! George Mason sent UCONN packing! You can't support a team that beats the Huskies regardless of the glory of its namesake...

  3. In pro baseball, basketball, and hockey, the superior team in the play-offs is established through a series of games, not just a one-game elimination. That's the difference.

    In football the entire season is one big tournament.

    My main point is that baseball, basketball, and baseball are well-suited for tournament play, and I'd rather see more tournaments than relatively meaningless regular-season games.

  4. It's been ages since i posted here. Been sick, busy etc. There are not many games left this season. It has had it's up's and down's. Meet some new Reds i adore. Meet David Ross again. Knew of him when was a Dodger. Missed Sean Casey a lot. Reds then got rid of Austin Kerns. Seen the Reds 9 times this year at Busch Stadium. Saw the Phillies 3 times. Seen The Astros 3 times. Gonna see the Astros for my 4th time September 13th. Gonna go to games in 2 weeks to see Brian Giles.No idea who will make the playoffs.First Choice Reds. Second Choice Phillies. 3RD Astros. 4TH Choice Padres. Padres just because of Brian Giles, Geoff Blum and Trevor Hoffmann. I hope to at least attend one playoff game. But if the Cards don't make it won't go to any. Because i can't afford to travel. But if i had to choose. I'd rather the Reds win the Central and just have to watch them on tv.Seeing them on tv would be better than them not making the playoffs at all.
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