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Tournament expansion make Jay Bilas mad!

Ways to avoid the slow summer days for college hoops fans:

  • Try seeding a 256-team NCAA tournament
  • Build starting rosters in a world where players didn’t jump early to the NBA draft
  • Wait for Jay Bilas to react to all NCAA tournament expansion news

The first two are merely an exercise to pass the time. The last one is pure entertainment. Few people do outrage and indignation better than the ESPN analyst. (Well, maybe Bruce Banner.)

The target of Bilas’ ire is this AP story about the NCAA mulling options for how it’ll add the three new games to the 68-team format. Some would like the at-large teams to play those four opening-round games, while others think it should continue to be schools from the one-big leagues like the Northeast Conference.

Well, NEC commissioner Noreen Morris thinks the smaller schools have done their part.

“I think if you find yourself in that game every year, it becomes a bit of a stigma and it can be used in negative recruiting and just an overall branding problem for our conference,” Morris told the AP. “You don’t want the same conferences in those opening rounds every year, especially when we don’t know what it will look and feel like.”

I can only imagine Bilas’ face when he was reading this article. With any luck, he was drinking coffee and did an outrage/surprise spit-take. Luckily for us, he channeled it all into
this story.

It is an ESPN Insider story, so I’ll only highlight two of the best parts. The first:

Sticking with the victimization theme, how about this idea to “rotate” the conferences in the four play-in games so that the same leagues don’t play in those games every year? Are you joking? We don’t want to hurt the feelings of the conferences that cannot field a team in the national top 60, yet are allowed to compete for the national championship with an automatic bid?

See? An angry Bilas is an entertaining Bilas. He’s all about the “best” teams in the tournament and makes no apologies about it. (Can’t imagine what he’d do to Bally.)

He closes equally strong, though his blood pressure surely suffered for it.

Here is an idea: If you want to avoid the “play-in” games, play well, win your games and get seeded in the top 60. Every conference has the same opportunity to win, so win -- especially when you have the chance against quality nonconference opponents -- and you won’t have to worry about it. And if you find yourself in one of the four “play-in” games, then be pleased that a team ranked outside of the top 60 in the nation gets a chance to compete for the national title.

The NCAA tournament is high-level competition, not a Little League where each player gets three innings and a trophy. We keep score, and there is no mercy rule.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.