When colleges are slashing staff and hiking tuition, the NCAA Tournament should keep teams closer to home. It would cut down on travel costs (which go on the NCAA's tab), and it would liven up arenas with more fans who have a rooting interest beyond their office pools.
"We'd love to have all of the teams stay as regionally close as possible," Dan Guerrero, chair of the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee, said on a Monday conference call. "But if you did that, you'd really be manipulating the seed lines."
Seed lines? We're talking about seed lines? Outside of the top three or four seeds — whom the committee has become quite adept at identifying and preserving— the tournament serves as an early-round crapshoot every March.
We need more than so-called upsets (see: No. 12-over-No. 5, No. 11-over-No. 6). We need more of a local touch.
Would it be so sacrilegious to make Cal a No. 6 seed in San Jose instead of the No. 8 status it'll take into Jacksonville (Fla.) on Friday night against Louisville?
Would Saint Mary's be offended if, instead of going as a No. 10 seed to Providence (R.I.), it received a No. 11 mark and a Thursday night date in San Jose?
San Diego State is an 11th seed, and UC Santa Barbara a 15th, and those automatic qualifiers (by virtue of winning their conference tournaments) certainly could have fit in San Jose. Instead, such spots feature No. 11 Washington (vs. No. 6 Marquette) and No. 14 Montana (vs. No. 3 New Mexico).
Non-California-grown teams also are having to dart cross country. Why? To fulfill the NCAA's motto: Play basketball, see the country at 30,000 feet, text your relatives back home, watch us collect television revenues at your fans' expense.
"I've always felt the people who support you, the parents of the kids, should be in a position to see their team play," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said in a Monday conference call. "When you move a team 3,000 miles, it makes it more difficult for everybody. I never thought that was right."
After the jump Calvin talks more about his knee, Wilner and Ratto give opposite takes on Cal's bracket matchups, former Cal coach Todd Bozeman gives some insight on playing Louisville, and more.
- JO has more from Calvin. Calvin talks about the struggles of recovering mentally from a torn ACL.
- Despite being three seeds lower, Washington drew a much better first and potentially second-round matchup, according to Wilner. Ratto, however, says Cal drew a fair bracket and should be pleased that they could face teams like Texas A+M, Purdue, or Siena if they get past Louisville and Duke.
- Former Cal coach Todd Bozeman talks about playing Louisville. His Morgan St team lost 90-81 at Louisville in November. To be successful against Louisville, Cal has to avoid turning the ball over while keeping fresh legs against Louisville's tough, physical style of play.
- The Cal-Louisville matchup pits together two of college basketball's future hall-of-fame coaches, Monty and Rick Pitino. Pitino calls Cal one of the more underrated teams in the country, due to the perceived weakness of the Pac-10. Pitino is happy his team made it into the NCAA tournament, as he wasn't sure his team would be here this time last month.
- Randle was named one of the nation's 26 finalists for the John Wooden Award, given to the nation's best player.