The 2016 play-in games and the first weekend of the NCAA tournament have come and gone and what a first weekend it was. Half court buzzer beaters, crazy comebacks and upsets made this one of the best opening salvos ever of the tourney. I enjoyed every second of it but I must admit I completely abhor the play-in games with a passion.
The formula for getting in the field of 64 ( I still call it that because if you are truly in the field, you don’t have to engage in the unnecessary frivolity of a “play-in” game), is actually quite simple- win your conference tournament and you get one of the 32 automatic bids. Earning one of the remaining 32 at large slots, has a degree of subjectivity, but it is intended to be based on the merits of the season a ballclub had. It takes into account factors such as( but no limited to) RPI, record against top teams, and conference strength. As with anything that does not accept everyone, there is always chatter and compelling arguments for teams that feel they shouldn’t have been excluded from the field. The only way you could quell such banter is to invite every D-1 team.
Perhaps there were some that felt the way I currently do when the field was expanded from 48 but my take isn’t that of the elder standing on his porch screaming at youngsters to get off his lawn. Change is not always the best course of action and if something isn’t broken why try to fix it?
Let us be honest, we know what this is about, and that is money. More games mean more money. That may sound cynical but that doesn’t make it any less true. I know the NCAA would never admit that but that is what the true reason behind these games really are. This is merely dipping the toe in the proverbial waters before they move forward with expanding the tournament. Lastly, do not insult our intelligence by refusing to call them what they are: play in games. The NCAA can come up with whatever cute little names they want or telling the commentators and other talking heads to not to call them that but that is what they are. The first round starts with games all over the country on multiple channels all day long, not in some gym in Dayton. Let’s not change that NCAA.