This year's wacky NCAA tournament has produced a suitably wacky Final Four. On one side of the bracket? No. 1-seed Duke and No. 2-seed West Virginia, who probably should have gotten a No. 1 seed in the first place. On the other side? A No. 5-seeded mid-major named Butler and No. 5-seeded Michigan State squad riddled with injuries, not least of which cost leading scorer and star player in Kalin Lucas the rest of his season. The result of this wackiness means many will consider Saturday night's game between Duke and West Virginia the real national championship game, even if either of those No. 5 seeds can beat (and they can) either of the two heavily favored powers opposite them.
What's the solution to all this? Is it to let the tournament play out and see which team can win two games against these four opponents? Of course not: It's to reseed the Final Four!
OK, not really. But the imbalance of the matchups has caused some discussion of reseeding to spring forth. From USA Today:
This year's lopsided NCAA tournament semifinals could breathe life into an old issue: whether to rejigger the Final Four bracket to separate the highest-seeded regional winners.
"There are obvious pros and cons," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith, incoming chair of the committee that oversees the tournament, said via e-mail Monday. "Considering this year's occurrence, I would think one of the committee members will raise it in our summer meetings. (I'm) not sure if the conversation will get 'traction' but it would be a natural question as we evaluate the 2010 championships."
Let's hope the conversation doesn't get "traction." This a bad idea. For one, it would completely mess with the way so many people -- casual fans especially -- enjoy the NCAA tournament: through their brackets. So now, in addition to picking the Final Four, I have to worry about how that Final Four would be reseeded? And the team I picked to win the West might actually be playing the team I picked to win the South? That seems unnecessary.
Of course, the real-world impact is even less tantalizing. We spend far too much time complaining about seedings before the tournament started; who's to say we can trust the tournament committee to appropriately seed the Final Four when the teams are less obviously disparate than this year? (Even this year -- which team gets Butler, and which team gets Michigan State? How do you do that?) It's not as if this sort of thing happens every year. The tournament does a pretty good job of sorting the wheat from the chaff. And when it does happen, it's not a disaster -- it simply means two higher-seeded teams are stuck playing on Saturday, rather than Monday. What's more, at this point, those seeds are hardly representative, because each of the Final Four has won the same number of NCAA tournament games to get here. How fair is it to reseed Butler, which just beat Syracuse and Kansas State, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in their bracket, to play against yet another No. 1 or No. 2?
In a vacuum, reseeding is an interesting idea, but in the real-world context of the NCAA tournament, it's not one the committee really needs to be having. Time would be much better spent on making sure ugly, nonsensical brackets like this year's don't happen again. The Final Four itself is better left alone.