This week’s build up to the NCAA Tournament has highlighted more of the grift inherent in so-called “March Madness.”
Some of the loudest complaints this week focused on having UCLA in the field, despite its ho-hum regular season (fourth in the Pac-12, now 21-13). But of course the Bruins will make it into the Tournament; UCLA is college basketball royalty–and a shoo in for selection unless they have a truly awful season (meaning a losing record). So they get in, and then the Bruins get a break and beat SMU. The Mustangs would have been a favorite dark horse (!) pick had they advanced, a–dare I say it–“Cinderella” team. But now SMU has been smushed by old reliable UCLA.
See, that’s how the NCAA has it both ways with this thing: if SMU or another of the outsiders advances, they get to pimp the underdog/Cinderella story line–despite the fact that–as we have seen–those teams NEVER win the Tournament. If an old guard, “in the cartel’ team advances, we get to hear long and loud paeans to the tradition of winning that “Payemoff State” represents, all the way to the highly rated and commercially lucrative title game.
Thus, the rebellious types get their pound of flesh, while nevertheless the staus quo remains upheld. And folks go for it, year after year after year.
The whole thing stinks.