The Jump ...
I must admit it, really. I have already filled out five brackets. Its nearly a prerequisite. I am a male, I watch sports and whether I even like college basketball or watch it or am planning on calling in sick to work next week (which I would never do or condone) matters little. Filling out a March Madness bracket is just as much a requirement of any sports fan as watching the Super Bowl. The true geeks, the ones who have as many fantasy baseball and hockey teams as I have tourney brackets, fill out NIT and CIT brackets ... have a beer or two fellas. Happy hour doesn't happen in front of a computer screen. But I digress.
But here's whats wrong with this ...
Even the NCAA seems to not be immune from this economy. Among fears of not making nearly as much money on this 64-game spectacle of diaper dandys and super sophs (because you don't play more than two years if you're any good) and announcements that major advertisers are scaling back, the selection committee this week was left with a puzzle to solve. How can we maximize the profits on site and guarantee a broader fan base for this thing? Let Minnesota in!
What do Saint Mary's and Creighton have in common? Well if you haven't heard of either, that's one thing. Both are Catholic Universities with relatively small enrollments. Creighton's is at about 7,000 while Saint Mary's is under 3,000. Both have 26 wins this year, both have RPI's under 50, but both were blown out in their conference tournament by more than 20 points and both were left out of the tourney.
What do Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona and Maryland have in common. All are very large universities with several hundred thousand alumni and a national recognition with graduates and fans spread all over the nation. Oh and none have more than 22 wins with Wisconsin and Arizona not even reaching 20 wins.
Yet somehow, despite all prognostications showing these teams out, these five got into the dance. Whats the other common denominator? Money.
These large universities with huge national followings and widespread alum have the monetary resources to not only attend the games but spend the money on products being advertised to them during the games their teams shouldn't be playing to begin with. Its not a matter of them being more wealthy than other smaller institutions that were left out, but its a matter of sheer volume. Would Saint Mary's fan travel to Miami for a first-round game? Are there any Creighton alum in Boise, Idaho. I don't know the answer to those two questions, but replace St. Mary's and Creighton's name with any of the five schools mentioned that did get in, and the answer is likely yes.
The same answer the NCAA gave to them on Sunday.
I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin ...
So there are likely a dozen other theories out there that will say why teams got in or not, and this is just one of them. Right or wrong, it's got to be a consideration. In this day and age fights for what little spendable dollars are out there are surfacing in arenas we never thought would be influenced. It now matters not what you have done, but what you can do.
One last thing to consider about the Creighton situation. The NCAA is perhaps capitalizing on Creighton's ability to draw 17,000 fans per game by giving them a No. 1 seed for the NIT, lining them up to have three home games. Likely three times the number of fans they would have traveling if Creighton was sent anywhere but Kansas City.
It seems to be a sad realization but sports appears to be reflecting society. The less you have, the less you matter.