There's still time! Beat me in the HWTN Bracket Challenge!
Plus: Take the field back down to 64, already

I threw down the gauntlet, and so far, apparently only a handful of people think they actually can beat me in my Hangin' With The Nuss Bracket Challenge.

What are you waiting for? Visit this CBS.Sportsline.com site, enter the password "thenuss" and fill out your bracket. (You'll need to create a Sportsline ID if you don't have one already.)

Go ahead. I'll wait. Just make sure to come back.
OK, good. Now that you're back, let me ask you all a couple of questions:

First, raise your hand if you'd be heartbroken if Arkansas -- 21-13 overall, 7-9 in the SEC -- was left out of NCAA Tournament?

Anyone? Bueller?

Now, consider this: You've just won your conference tournament, and you're delirious. You're making a hard-earned trip to the NCAA Tournament that just wouldn't be possible otherwise, since you come from a small conference that only has ever gotten one bid to the Big Dance.

You're waiting on Selection Sunday with baited breath, knowing you're probably going to play some BCS conference heavyweight, but that's OK with you -- you're relishing the idea of trying to knock off one of the big boys.

The brackets are being unveiled ... you're holding your breath ... and ...


Oh, wait -- it's the opening round game. Sorry, NCAA. Don't put me on probation.

There literally is no bigger joke in college sports than the "opening round game" in the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament -- and that includes the current BCS football system.

A few years back, when the Mountain West Conference split away from the WAC, the NCAA made one of its worst decisions ever. (And that is REALLY saying something.) The NCAA wanted to give the MWC an automatic bid to the Tournament, but also wanted to maintain the 34 at-large bids.

So what did it do?

Give the MWC its automatic bid, and keep 34 at-large bids. But wait! That makes 65 teams! How best to handle that?

Screw the two "worst" teams in the tournament by making them play one more game before entering the field of 64. Ship them to Dayton, Ohio, for a farce of a game under the guise of the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA insists that it be called the "opening round game," and counts the game in the official NCAA Tournament records. Defenders of the game claim that the participants are treated first class, that they get the national stage all to themselves for a night.

Here’s how special the game is, in reality.

CBS -- broadcaster of the NCAA Tournament for about forever -- fiercely guards its rights to the Tournament; it even kept ESPN from broadcasting live highlights for a time. Yet, CBS and the NCAA think so much of this “NCAA Tournament game” that it’s broadcast on cable, on ESPN, on a Tuesday night.

ESPN, in turn, thinks so much of the game that it sent the stellar broadcasting team of Terry Gannon and Steve Lavin to Ohio – no Dick Vitale, no Brent Musburger, no Brad Nessler, no Jay Bilas. They love Gannon so much at ESPN that he’s guy they usually send to the late-night Big Monday game that tips off at midnight on the East Coast. (They did send Erin Andrews, however, winning back a measure of respect from men everywhere.)

Speaking of Gannon and Lavin, they were so interested in the game that they spent the first 12 minutes of the first half talking about everything but the “NCAA Tournament game” taking place right in front of them. First, they talked for a few minutes about Syracuse getting snubbed, then talked about how dangerous Texas is. Then, just to prove that they weren’t just ad-libbing on their own, each broadcaster then went through their Final Four picks, complete with on-screen graphic.

That definitely sends the message that the game is important – the broadcasters didn’t even think enough of what was going on 50 feet from them to make it the No. 1 priority of the broadcast.

It’s time for the NCAA to right this inexcusable wrong. Just take away one at-large bid.

Really, we won’t miss Arkansas. I swear.


Anonymous said...

Nuss, I gotta; that was the best blog you've ever posted. I laughed out loud several times. So did my roommate who you need to look out for in the "Watch me whup Nuss' ass bracket challenge."



Nuss said...

Thanks, bro! Check out the preview of the game. I think ORU has no chance.