The NCAA has decided that this year's March Madness tournament has been so thrilling -- and so profitable -- that they want to give us fans even more of the good stuff and expand the tournament, and they are exploring options for a 96-team field. Nothing official has been decided yet, but it is sounding more and more likely, especially considering the NCAA has already outlined most of the fine points and details of such a tournament expansion.
This is an awful idea, right? (As Sorbo so eloquently put it, "That's like taking gold and dipping it in shit.") I haven't put much thought into it yet, but how about a little steam-of-consciousness ranting experiment? (cracks knuckles) Here we go...
Look, I understand that sports are nothing more than a business. I understood that well before I went to school and got a marketing degree (that I do nothing with). That being said, where is the line in the sand? At what point do you have to consider maintaining the integrity of the tournament? (Oh wait, it's the NCAA -- they know nothing of integrity even if they are really good at pretending they care about the "student athletes" they exploit for free) How far can you dilute the product before you start turning away the fans and get diminishing results and less return on your investment?
Who honestly wants to see most of the first-round matchups that will exist in such a tournament? Will teams still give a crap in the regular season, or will they half-ass their way through more games since there is less incentive to perform then or risk missing the tournament? (It'd be like the Lakers and Celtics lollygagging their way through recent games, except with crappier, more inexperienced players! Shudder.) And think of how the office bracket pools will be destroyed. Nobody wants to fill out all 96 teams. And you'd have to print your brackets out on that huge 11"x17" paper just to be able to read them. And perhaps most importantly, who the hell is going to fill the seats at these games? The number of bare seats at most first round games is already staggering. They'll have even more attendance woes for the bottom of the barrel games where the team that barely would have made it into the NIT gets to play against one of the higher seeds. It will look so bad on TV that people will turn off the games in disgust. (Maybe I can get a part-time job as a professional spectator to help them fill seats for appearance purposes?)
But hey, if CBS or ABC/ESPN is willing to pay more than $6 billion for TV rights for a decade, money talks, and it talks plenty loud...
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In less depressing bawful news, one great thing about bawful is that it can show up anywhere at any time. It has come to our attention that there is even some phenomenal bawful to be found in, um, adult entertainment. You know how we like to poke fun at Stan Van Gundy for looking like Ron Jeremy? This shot from the opening of a scene just brings it around full circle:
Yes, that is a Ben Wallace Pistons jersey, and yes that is a Charles Barkley Suns jersey. And yes they have sex later in the scene, and yes it is totally disgusting because Stan Van Gundy Ron Jeremy looks like a greasy 300lb hedgehog on top of that poor girl. I feel like I need to go throw up in a trash can. Let's just move on.
And one last thing before we get into the Pictures: here's the most emasculating facial ever. (And wow, saying that right after the Ron Jeremy thing... I feel dirty)
Worst of the Night in Pictures:
Playing basketball with your eyes shut is hard
Hey Rashard, it's hard to get a hand in his face when you're turned the wrong damn way
This is Denver's mayor. Seriously.
Birdman Andersen somehow gets uglier and scarier looking every single day
Nationally Televised Friday Games: Hawks at Crabs: Good news, Hawks fans! Anderson Varejao, who hit his first-career trey against the Hawks to effectively clinch the win for his team on December 30th, will likely sit out this game.
Jazz at Lakers: Aww man. Another game of not giving a shit until the playoffs?
All The Other Friday Games: Heat at Pacers: The Heat are riding a six-game winning streak that's helped them move higher into playoff position. Of course, having one of the most favorable schedules in the history of basketball for the final three weeks of the season probably helps your confidence.
Bulls at WizardsGenerals Bullets: The Bulls actually managed to lose to the Bullets back in February. This game could be very telling regarding Derrick Rose's potential stat curse.
Bucks at Bobcats: Fear the deer! Wait a second, wouldn't a bobcat absolutely annhiliate a deer in a fight? This confuses me.
Rockets at Celtics: The Celtics haven't been playing well at home (honestly, how does a team win MORE road games than home games?!), but lucky for them, the Houston Money Ballers are falling apart like a Jenga tower in an earthquake.
Suns at Pistons: So, so tempting to watch just to see how many high fives Steve Nash dishes out.
Hornets at Grizzlies: So, uh, the Grizzlies are technically alive for a playoff spot. However, that seven game deficit they have behind the Spurs for 8th kind of hurts...
Magic at Spurs: The Magic's defense has shut the Spurs down their last three meetings. The 1-for-10 shooting performance by Tim Duncan the last time they played still gives me nightmares.
Knicks at Warriors: You have no idea how much I look forward to these meaningless Nellieball/D'Antoni matchups. Fun fact: over the last nine games, the Warriors have given up 122ppg. Were they involved in a horrific accident that somehow severed all their arms? I can't think of any other reason to play that poorly on defense.
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Nationally Televised Saturday Games: Bobcats at Bulls: I am way too excited for this game (that I won't even get to see. Thanks, NBATV and blackout rules on League Pass Broadband). The D-Rose stat curse potential is conflicting with the fact that I like the Bulls and want to see them make the playoffs!
All The Other Saturday Games: Raptors at 76ers: Conversely, I am not at all excited about this game.
Pistons at Hawks: After playing the Crabs, this game will feel like a pickup game against some dudes from the YMCA for the Hawks. Then again, those random guys might be able to beat the Pistons, so nevermind.
Hornets at Nyets: It's impossible for me to think about the Nyets now and not be infuriated by them. But then I calm down when I remember how delightfully insane and rich their Russian owner is, and how much bawful potential he has for years to come.
Heat at Timberwolves: Remember what I said earlier about the Heat having a "favorable schedule?" Case in freaking point.
Thunder at Mavericks: Depending on which Mavs team decides to show up, this could be a good game. Or they could suck like they are prone to doing for extended periods for no obvious reason.
Suns at Bucks: I will probably get home from bowling just in time to see the fourth quarter of this game live. Well, I know what I'll be doing that evening!
Clippers at Nuggets: Meanwhile, I will be actively ignoring this game. I don't care if the Nuggets are fun to watch or not. The Clippers are still who we thought they were, right? (Of course they are!)
Frail Blazers at Kings: If there was an easy way to incorporate a facepalm into the Purple Paupers' logo, I would just photoshop that up and post it here. The Sacramento organization is only slightly more legitimate than this operation:
(They are, however, thankfully less likely to kidnap and molest children, so that's nice.)
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Nationally Televised Sunday Games: Crabs at Celtics: The last Crabs loss (as of this Friday writing) came against the ancient Spurs. I don't see that happening again in a game against the prehistoric, creaky-kneed Celtics. (Yep, what a way to start my Easter Sunday...)
Spurs at Lakers: This has the potential to be a preview of a Western Conference first round matchup. You know, except for the part where the Lakers will actually try hard in those games.
All The Other Sunday Games: Rockets at Pacers: I can't believe I am favoring the Pacers to win this game. I feel sick.
Grizzlies at Magic: So, I just read that "Grizzlies center Marc Gasol and guard Ronnie Brewer will miss the team's final eight games of the season because of injuries." Yeah... .500 isn't looking quite as likely now.
Nyets at Bullets: According to ESPN.com's schedule, this game isn't going to be televised at all. Thank you, regional and national sports networks, for preventing us from witnessing this horrendous event.
Warriors at Raptors: (chanting) "_efense!" *clap clap* "_efense!" *clap clap*
Timberwolves at Thunder: Catching the Timberwolves when they're playing their second game in two nights and they are on the road? That is the best gift you could ever hope to receive.
Knicks at Clippers: The Bricks get two games this weekend, and both will be entertainingly bawful. Oh how I love the NBA.