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Jonathanís Journal
February 6, 2002

THEY TINKERED WITH THE TOURNEY

While most of us were focusing on the upcoming football season last summer, the NCAA was making a few changes with the bracketing procedures for this year and probably many to come. In an effort to keep teams from traveling great distances to their first and second round games, they have established a procedure to keep the highest seeded teams as close to home as possible, while at the same time keeping the four different regions as even as possible. This means that, for example, if Duke was the number one seed in the West regional, they could play their first and second round games as a site much closer to home. Say, Washington, D.C., for example. Then, following the first two rounds and assuming they advance past those first two rounds, they would travel out west to play the next two games and attempt to move on to the Final Four. Obviously, a change like this can have good and bad aspects. Personally, I donít like the new changes all that great.

But there are a lot of people who think these changes will greatly benefit the tournament and the teamsí fans, players, and coaches. By having the top teams play closer to home, many more fans will get to go see their team play. Travel time and expense should also be reduced. The fans get a chance to see their team play, which is what the tournament is about. Also, the host cities make more money because they have more fans in town to see their team play. And following the teamsí games, they have a lesser distance to travel home, which means they are out of class for a shorter period of time. If you remember last season, Maryland, Georgetown, George Mason, and Hampton traveled to Boise, ID for their first and second round games. It would have been much easier on the fans, coaches, and players to have had that regional in the eastern part of the United States.

But, as I said earlier, theyíre are also the bad aspects of this change. Do you think Hampton, the 15 seed, would have still upset Georgetown, the 2 seed, had they been playing in the eastern US and a much more Georgetown-friendly crowd? Who knows, but it wasnít as likely. That is an example of one fear I have. The potential of some of the first and second round upsets could be greatly diminished if the top teams (who are the teams that are upset) are allowed to play closer to home and in a more friendly environment. The upsets are one reason the NCAA Basketball Tournament is so much fun each and every year, especially the first and second rounds. Also, if thereís was one group of four teams from the West playing in D.C. and one group of four from the South playing in D.C., you would have yet another potential problem. The teams from the first group of four who are playing in the same city as the second group of four have the possibility of not playing each other until the Final Four or possibly the National Championship Game, depending on how the bracket is set up that particular year. Usually, you not only have a chance to play your games there and watch your next opponent, but you are also able to scout your possible opponents for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 in person. Now, you will not see your Sweet 16 in person at all and will see your Elite 8 opposition only once, compared to the three times previously possible.

As Iíve shown, you can look at the changes and like them or not like them. It depends on what youíre looking for when you watch the NCAA Tournament. Are you glad to see that the teams and coaches, along with their fans will not have to travel as much to get to their site and see their team play? Or are you upset that it appears the number of upsets could be reduced thanks to more friendly crowds for the top teams?


BASEBALL BEGINNING

The college baseball season, yes baseball, is either underway or soon to be underway for many teams across the country. The top 25 polls look just like they look most of the time at this point in the season. The usual baseball powers are up there: Stanford, Miami, Southern Cal, LSU, Cal State-Fullerton, Rice, Wichita State, Mississippi State, etc. There are also a few surprises in the polls, for example: Tennessee and Rutgers. So going into the beginning of the baseball season, hereís a look at the non-conference games that Iíll be watching before the conference games begin:

DATEGAME
February 1-3
Tennessee at Miami
February 1-3
Cal State-Fullerton at Stanford
February 8-10
Florida at Miami
February 8-10
Stanford at Florida State
February 10
Georgia Tech at Rice
February 11
Georgia Tech at Nebraska
February 18 & 21
Georgia Tech at Georgia
February 23-24
Ohio State at Mississippi State
March 1-2
Florida State at Florida
March 1-3
Long Beach State at LSU
March 2
Clemson at South Carolina
March 3
South Carolina at Clemson
March 3
Florida at Florida State
March 28-30
Texas at Stanford

CHECK IT OUT

If you havenít noticed, Iíve added some of the conference tournament brackets to the site recently. As the slots in each tourney are filled, Iíll add them and then do my best to keep up with the bracket during each tournament. Also, Iíve been updating the college hoops top 25 weekly since the beginning of January. I also add college basketball predictions two times each week, predicting the big games of each week and weekend. A new Jonathanís Journal is posted every so often but not on a regular schedule. If you ever have any ideas for new items or ways to improve what Iím already doing, Iíd love to hear them. You can email me here! Thanks!


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