Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NCAA tourney under 1972 rules

This will be a little bit of a feature on how much has changed in sports in 37 years. There are some big differences in how college basketball looks now than how it looked in 1972.

The biggest deals with how the NCAA selection is done. In 1972, only one conference -- the ACC -- had a postseason tournament. That was how they selected their NCAA representative. What's that? Their representative? This year the ACC has seven teams? You're sounding like they only got one.

That's right. Through 1974 each conference got one representative and every conference used the regular season except for the ACC. 1974 was the catalyst for change. At the end of that season everyone knew the best teams in the country were UCLA of the Pacific 8 and NC State and Maryland of the ACC. Only 2 of those teams would make the tournament. The fact that the ACC had a tournament made the final in Greensboro between NC State and Maryland one of the greatest college games ever. If you ever have a chance to catch that on one of the classic networks, watch it. NC State won and got to go to the NCAA. Maryland lost and had to go to the NIT.

In 1972 there were 25 teams in. In that day there were also more independents (like Notre Dame) that could be invited. If the NCAA kept to that selection criteria, here are the teams that would be in this year:

America East Binghamton *(won head to head)
Atlantic 10 -- Xavier
ACC -- Duke (takes tourney champion)
Atlantic Sun -- Jacksonville
Big 12 Kansas
Big East Louisville
Big Sky Weber St.
Big South Radford
Big 10 Michigan State
Big West Cal St-Northridge
Colonial Virginia Commonwealth
Conf. USA Memphis
Horizon Butler
Ivy Cornell
Metro Atl. Siena
Mid-American Bowling Green *(won head to head)
MEAC Morgan State
Mo. Valley Creighton *(tied head to head…better record)
Mtn. West BYU *(tied head to head…better record)
Northeast Robert Morris
Ohio Valley Tennessee-Martin
Pac-10 Washington
Patriot American
Southern Davidson
Southland Stephen F. Austin
SWAC Alabama St.
Summit North Dakota St.
Sun Belt Western Kentucky *(won head to head)
West Coast Gonzaga
WAC Utah St

You'd look at this and think that the 4 #1 seeds would have to be Louisville, Memphis, Duke and Kansas. However, in 1972 they didn't balance the regions. You'd go to "your region." By that logic, you'd have the #1 seeds being Duke (East), Louisville (Mideast), Kansas (Midwest) and Washington or Gonzaga (West).

Louisville should be the overall #1 in this scenario, but they'd have the toughest bracket because they'd likely have to deal with LSU and Memphis in their bracket (unless Memphis was put in the Midwest).

Here's how I'd seed:

EAST (cupcake city, baby)
1. Duke
2. Siena
3. American
4. Binghamton
5. Radford
6. Robt Morris
7. Morgan St
8. Cornell

1. Louisville
2. LSU
3. Butler
4. Davidson
5. Jacksonville
6. VCU
7. Bowling Green
8. Tn-Martin

MIDWEST (monster region)
1. Memphis
2. Kansas
3. Mich St.
4. Xavier
5. Creighton
6. W.Ky.
7. N.Dak.St.
8. Alab. St

1. Gonzaga
2. Washington
3. BYU
4. Utah St.
5. Weber St.
6. SFA
7. Northridge

In 1972, they didn't seed, either. However, under this scenario, Duke has the easiest cakewalk, but they wouldn't win the championship. The dream would be a Louisville v. Memphis finals matchup with Duke and Gonzaga playing the third place game (yes, they did that in 1972).

There are many things that I like about 1972, but I like the changes that have brought about the college basketball tournament as we know it. If this were how the tournament were selected, we wouldn't have had the conference consolidation we've had over the years. The old Metro conference and the Southwest conferences would still be around. (Imagine the Metro conference tournament final under 1972 rules -- Memphis v. Louisville with everything on the line.) Freshman eligibility, allowing players to dunk and the revamped tournament have turned this into a time of the year I like. At least until Duke loses and the tournament ends for me.

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