Thursday, March 28, 2013

Point/Counterpoint: Reseeding the Sweet 16

Should the Sweet 16 field be reseeded, forcing Cinderellas like Florida Gulf Coast to play the region's best team? (

A popular topic the week of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 is whether the tournament field should be reseeded within the regions once the final 16 teams are set. Meaning, if this would take place, the highest seed, in this year's case it could be a double-digit seed, would have to play the lowest seed (usually a No. 1 or 2 seed) in the Sweet 16 instead of who is in their region. Two of our writers each took a side to lay out the points in favor of either reseeding the field of 16 or keeping the regions as they were at the start of the tournament.

Eddie Pro-reseeding:
The NCAA Tournament has become synonymous with madness because of its 'win or go home' format. Unlike 'best of seven' or 'best of five' scenarios, the better team doesn't always have the opportunity to prove their superiority. This results in highly unpredictable results and, every once in a blue moon, a champion that everyone agrees wasn't the best team in the land. In essence, the tournament is rigged against the better teams because all it takes is one off-night for your season to be over, even if you worked far harder than the other team to succeed throughout the course of the season. Reseeding teams within their regions for the Sweet Sixteen would go a long way toward reaffirming the importance of excelling in the regular season.

To make it worse, the NCAA made it a virtual cakewalk to get into the tournament by adding four teams to the field and creating a "first round" in 2011. Doing well in the regular season simply doesn't have the value that it used to. At the beginning of March, Baylor was still considered a "bubble team"with an 18-13 record.

This year, the West region offers the best case for reseeding teams in the Sweet Sixteen. Ohio State, as a No. 2 seed, will play No. 6 seed Arizona for a place in the regional final. Meanwhile, No. 9 seed Wichita State goes up against No. 13 seed LaSalle. Ohio State finished second in the regular season standings of one of the best conferences college basketball has ever seen and just happened to win its conference tournament. And what is its reward? It gets to play a Wildcats squad that spent much of the season ranked in the top five and finished second in the Pac-12. On the other end, two mid-majors who didn't accomplish anything noteworthy in the regular season, despite playing in less competitive conferences, are playing one another. It's really a shame that either Arizona or Ohio State will be sitting at home watching either Wichita State or LaSalle play in the Elite Eight.

Opponents will say that reseeding the Sweet Sixteen will give too great an advantage to the higher seeds and "punish" the lower seeds for earning a place in the tournament's second weekend. I would contend that's the entire point.  Conceivably, if Cinderellas like Florida Gulf Coast played well enough to get into the Sweet Sixteen, they should be able to compete with any team in the tournament regardless of seeding. But it could be that they just overachieved the first weekend and aren't actually good enough to play with the big boys. Either way, the regular season should play a bigger factor in determining a team's postseason fortunes.

Kyle Anti-reseeding:
I agree there are times when the NCAA Tournament, because of seeding or match-up, makes the regular season seem unimportant. Rarely does a committee get every team's seeding correct and sometimes the best team (in this year's case it is Louisville) gets thrown in what many feel is the most difficult bracket. This tournament doesn't always give the championship to the best or most deserving team and neither does any other sport. When the New England Patriots went undefeated into the Super Bowl and lost to the New York Giants, did anyone think the Giants were the better team up until that point or deserved it more? No, but that's the beauty of sport. The Miami Heat "should have" won a championship in 2011, but Dallas had something to say about that. The Detroit Tigers had the fewest wins for a division winner in 2012, yet made it to the World Series. While the regular season is and should be important, it doesn't always translate to the postseason. The beauty of this tournament is when the round of 64 begins, all 64 teams have a shot at a title.

Whether or not it should, I don't think reseeding will happen because of the two reasons that drive fans and money to the NCAA Tournament: upsets and brackets. People love underdogs. More than underdogs, people love brackets. Are people going to start having to only fill out brackets on Selection Sunday only up until the Sweet 16 and then fill out a new one after the reseeding has taken place? And as we've seen, momentum and match-up can make the tournament field crazy. If it is more difficult for the "Cinderellas" to advance, and more and more top seeds breeze through the tournament, the casual fans, who just want to see an underdog, will not be nearly as interested in the tournament.

Why punish teams for playing well now for those who played well months ago? Sure, Wichita State gets to play No. 13 La Salle in the Sweet 16, but that's because the Shockers defeated a No. 1 team. It is not the Shockers' fault Ole Miss or Kansas State couldn't beat La Salle, but Wichita State took care of its business and shouldn't have to face a higher seed because of what the Rebels and Wildcats failed to do. If Ohio State and Arizona are that much better and are reseeded, they would each win and meet in the Elite 8 anyway, delaying the matchup just one round. The team that deserves to move on will find a way to win, no matter the seeding.

The lower seeds are supposed to be the better teams, which is why they have earned those seedings. But at some point they need to go out and win instead of getting favors. It takes six consecutive wins to be champions for everyone and somewhere along the line a team is going to have to beat the other great teams to earn that title.

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