As the behemoth that is March Madness approaches, it’s become customary to expect thrills and chills, improbable buzzer beaters, Cinderella’s rising and, occasionally, major teams capsizing. While the nation is engulfed or programmed to witness this brand of amateur basketball every year, to the NCAA’s credit, they are constantly exploring ways to “tweak” the tournament to bring increased engagement of eligible schools and expand the brand. Even though the tourneys first round outcomes are predictable, particularly in games pitting top teams against overmatched competition, we still tune in for the potential “what ifs.” In the spirit of what ifs here are some wishes for this year’s tournament that even the most ardent college basketball enthusiasts may get behind.
16 Is the New 1
The talent disparity between the 16th seed and the first seed is so immense, you can consider this a cataclysmic phenomenon with the potential to wipe out 99.99% of all filled brackets from the jump.
Reality check: Since the expansion to 64 plus teams 30 years ago, this has never happened. So far, 1-seeds are undefeated, and only in five of those games has a 16-seed come within four points or fewer of pulling off the impossible. With this perfect record intact and the blowout margins of victories, the NCAA might as well give the 1-seeds a first round bye.
All 1-Seeds in the Final Four
The common denominator of teams awarded a 1-seed, by record and expert consensus, is they are the best in the country. While the current format will only pair these teams for three games towards the end, it will be compelling to watch the best collegiate teams compete for the coveted prize.
Reality check: Only once have all 1-seeds reached the Final Four. In 2008, powerhouses Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA made history by becoming the first, with Kansas prevailing as the national champion in an overtime thriller against Memphis.