The NCAA’s playoff season wrapped up recently with the end of March Madness, including both NCAA Basketball Tournaments, and the NCAA Hockey Tournament. Currently the men’s hockey and basketball tournaments use a 16-team and 68-team field, respectively. While the number of participating teams is appropriate, the tournaments’ single-elimination is not.
This year’s NCAA tournaments served two teams an injustice. The Notre Dame women’s basketball team and Quinnipiac men’s hockey team were screwed by the NCAA tournament model. The Irish defeated the UConn women’s basketball team three times this season, as did the Bobcats over Yale. By fate, both sets of teams met again deep in the playoffs. Notre Dame and UConn met in the Final Four while Quinnipiac and Yale played for the national championship. Both Quinnipiac and Notre Dame lost to their respective opponent for the first time on these huge stages, and their season was over.
In the NCAA, an association that is built on fairness and integrity, this is unfair to the team that dominated their opponent throughout the season, but lost to them one very important time. It’s possible for these teams to slip up or have a bad game. These tournaments need to be more than single elimination. It isn’t too much to ask for basketball or hockey teams to play a weekend series where the truly better team is likely to come out on top.
The NCAA could also make the previous games count when familiar teams play in the postseason. Instead of starting the postseason game fresh, 0-0, make the scores from the previous games matter. Quinnipiac outscored Yale 13-3 before the national championship. The game could start at 13-3 or 10-0, meaning Yale would have to score at least 11 goals against the Bobcats to capture the national championship. The same could be done for the basketball tournament. Notre Dame outscored UConn 230-218 before the Final Four. At the start of the game, Notre Dame could start with a 12-point lead, giving the previous games meaning.
Something needs to be done to make the college postseason more fair. Am I the only one who feels this way? How do you feel about single elimination tournaments that throw the other games out the window? What other ideas could make previous games count and find the truly better team?