And what exactly happened to the ACC? (Updated)
8:14 AM, Mar 13, 2011 • By VICTORINO MATUS
For college hoops fans, this evening is much anticipated. On CBS we will hear that all-too-familiar chime signaling the beginning of March Madness. The NCAA committee will announce which 64 (65? 68? 84?) teams are going to the Big Dance. And through it all, we'll wonder whatever happened to the ACC?
Washington Post sports columnist and bestselling author John Feinstein discussed the strange demise of the Atlantic Coast Conference in his column last week. Having witnessed the nightmarish end of the UVA-Miami first round game of the ACC tournament, Feinstein asks,
Ouch. And Feinstein is a graduate of an ACC school (Duke), no less. Still, he calls it the way he sees it:
Had enough? Wasn't the expansion of the conference in 2003 supposed to make things better (at least for football)? Wasn't the Big East supposed to be doomed as a result? And exactly how good is Duke, considering the teams it faced during the season and otherwise getting throttled by the Big East's resurgent St. John's? I, for one, don't have the Blue Devils going very far. (Yes, sadly, I do have them going further than my beloved but depleted Georgetown Hoyas—I'll be delighted if they get past the first round.) Will Kansas disappoint us again? And is Kemba Walker really a Cyberdine Systems cyborg?
Happy Bracket Filling.
UPDATE 1:30pm: Speaking of bracket filling, in today's Washington Post, sportswriter Eric Prisbell addresses the growing alarm over the newly expanded field of 68 teams—what critics describe as a shameless ploy to increase ad revenue by offering up more games. Since 2001, NCAA pool participants have had to deal with the odd 65-team bracket—a Tuesday play-in game featuring small schools like Winthrop, which would then have the honor of playing a 1 seed like Ohio State two days later. Pool managers could either decide to force a Tuesday tip-off deadline, meaning players would have less than 48 hours to figure out the field, offer a bonus for getting brackets completed early, or simply ignore the play-in game and enforce the traditional Thursday noon tip-off deadline. The latter also allows for second-guessing to get the better of us: San Diego State is my overall winner? What was I thinking? Duke out in the second round? Wishful thinking!
But as the Post points out, things are more complicated this time:
So what are the professionals doing?
As for those individuals not involved in March Madness who are wondering who cares about any of this: Studies have shown productivity comes to a near halt during these next two weeks, whether you are in it or not. "Office pools, despite the warnings of law enforcement officials," writes Prisbell, "are among the country's most popular illegal activities. The FBI estimates that roughly $2.5 billion is gambled on the NCAA tournament, and only $80 million is bet legally through Nevada sports books. A good portion of the rest takes the form of $5 or $10 entry fees to participate in a bracket-pick NCAA tournament pool."
Now enjoy the madness.
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