A tourney decides a champ? What a novel idea

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

If you are like most sports fans in this area, college basketball is just something to watch to pass the time away before spring football season comes to a head.

Typically people in the South may keep tabs on their favorite teams just for the sake of passing time.

Then there are the true college basketball fans that could rattle off the starting five from Gonzaga and Monmouth College.

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This week is the celebration of what makes college basketball so great because, unlike its Division I-A football brethren, it has a playoff system. And it seems to work quite well.

Sure there is always a question about some of the teams that are selected to play in the tournament, but an undisputed champion is crowned.

That's something that college football can only wish to have.

Sure it seems like the Bowl Championship Series got it right this last season, but there is nothing like a playoff. Just ask those in Division I-AA.

But this is a time to celebrate college basketball and Cinderella.

There always seems to be a team that comes out of no where to advance to the Sweet 16.

And there are teams that dominate in the regular season and fade off into the sunset during tournament time.

That's what makes this tournament so great is because even your mid-major teams have a shot to win the national title.

Right now we wonder why teams like Air Force, Northwestern State and Bradley are in the tournament. It's because they earned the right by winning their conference tournament championship or just earning a place outright.

Just looking at the tournament bracket before me, I can guarantee you that you will not see all of the No. 1 seeds advance to the Final Four. In fact I would not be surprised if you only see one No. 1 seed make it to Indianapolis.

That leaves the door open for those No. 8 and 9 seeded teams that, at first glance, seem like they don't have a chance to advance.

But that's what makes this tournament so great.

Scanning through the bracket it seems like this year's champion will have to go through Duke. But I wouldn't say that Duke is a sure-fire cinch to advance to the Final Four, either.

Connecticut looks to be the most talented and battle-tested team in the tournament, but there are some darkhorses out there like UAB, Illinois, Arizona and George Washington waiting in the wings to pull off the upset.

That's what makes this tournament so great.

So while area college football teams are gearing up for next season playing in meaningless spring games, I'm going to be glued to the television set watching the best tournament in the country.

It's something the boys over in the football office of the NCAA might consider.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.