Let’s Get Weird with March Madness

Let’s Get Weird with March Madness

It’s that time of year again, the time when people claim to know about a mid-major team that they haven’t seen all season to justify the upset pick in their bracket. The time when people become fans of teams from the Horizon League or Big Sky or Ohio Valley, just for a chance at seeing a memorable tournament moment. Unfortunately, with the current state of college basketball, this is also a time of year for complaints about the barely over .500 power conference teams consistently getting the nod over mid-major teams with 25+ wins. I think I have a fix.


Buckle your seat belt and hear me out. Let’s change March Madness.


STEP 1 – No more conference tournaments


Look, it’s cute when an 11 win team from the MEAC gets to go to the tournament, but that team never wins a game in The Big Dance, and quite frankly, doesn’t deserve to have a shot at The Big Dance. Let’s give more good mid/low-major conference teams a chance and let those terrible teams stay home where they deserve to be.


Secondly, the best teams don’t need a conference tournament. Gonzaga didn’t need to play in the WCC tourney, just like Kansas State didn’t need to play in the Big 12 tourney, so let’s give them the week off. They’ve earned their high seeds. They’re in.


STEP 2 – Change up automatic bids


Every team will complete their regular season by the first Saturday in March (this year that would’ve been March 2). At that point, the NET rating for each conference will be determined. The automatic bids into the tournament will go as follows.


  • The top four highest NET rating conferences – 4 automatic bids (based on regular season conference standings)
  • The next three highest NET rating conferences – 3 automatic bids
  • The next two highest NET rating conferences – 2 automatic bids
  • The other 23 conferences – 1 automatic bid


With this year’s rankings, the Big 12, SEC, Big 10, and ACC would get their top 4 teams in automatically. The PAC-12, AAC, and WCC would get their top 3 teams in automatically. The Big East and MAC would get their top 2 teams in automatically, and the other 23 conferences would get their regular season conference champ in automatically. This is a total of 52 automatic bids. That leaves you 16 spots left to fill.


STEP 3 – The REAL play-in tournament


Since we got rid of the conference tournaments, that leaves a week before the NCAA tournament starts. During that week, 48 teams will vie for the remaining 16 spots in The Big Dance. Those 48 teams will be determined as follows…


  • The next highest team to not receive an automatic bid from all 32 conferences (would be the 5th place team in the Big 12, and the 2nd place team in a conference like the Atlantic Sun)
  • The 16 highest ranked NET ratings teams that haven’t met any other criteria (must be .500 or better)


Those 48 teams will be separated as 1, 2, and 3 seeds based on NET ranking. Each team will be assigned a number of 1-16, and the teams will be randomly drawn to go on their seed line. This will set up sixteen 3 team play in tournaments to be played Monday-Saturday in what is now the conference championship week.  The highest seeded team has homecourt. The winner of each 3 team tournament gets into the NCAA tournament. The other 32 teams are free to be invited to the NIT or whatever crazy tournaments exist now.


After the 68 teams are determined, you can still have the selection show and seed the teams accordingly for the actual Big Dance.




100 teams – 52 of them are automatically in, 48 of them are playing for the final 16 spots.


Using this year’s conference standings, those teams would be as follows…


  • Big 12 – Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor
  • ACC – Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Florida State
  • Big 10 – Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin
  • SEC – LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn
  • Pac 12 – Washington State, Arizona State, Utah
  • WCC – Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, BYU
  • AAC – Houston, Cincinnati, UCF
  • MAC – Buffalo, Toledo
  • Big East – Villanova, Marquette
  • America East – Vermont
  • Atlantic 10 – VCU
  • Atlantic Sun – Liberty
  • Big Sky – Montana
  • Big South – Radford
  • Big West – UC-Irvine
  • CAA – Hofstra
  • C-USA – Old Dominion
  • Horizon – Northern Kentucky
  • Ivy League – Yale
  • MAAC – Iona
  • MEAC – Norfolk State
  • MVC – Drake
  • Mountain West – Nevada
  • Northeast – Fairleigh Dickinson
  • OVC – Murray State
  • Patriot – Colgate
  • SoCon – Wofford
  • Southland – Sam Houston State
  • SWAC – Prairie View A&M
  • Summit – South Dakota State
  • Sun Belt – Georgia State
  • WAC – New Mexico State


That leaves 48 teams to play in for the last 16 spots, starting with the 32 teams that are the next highest in the standings for each conference. Those teams would be as follows…


  • AEC – Stony Brook
  • AAC – Temple
  • Atlantic 10 – Davidson
  • ACC – Virginia Tech
  • Atlantic Sun – Lipscomb
  • Big 12 – Iowa State
  • Big East – Seton Hall
  • Big Sky – Northern Colorado
  • Big South – Campbell
  • Big 10 – Maryland
  • Big West – UC-Santa Barbara
  • CAA – Northeastern
  • C-USA – Southern Miss
  • Horizon – Wright State
  • Ivy League – Harvard
  • MAAC – Quinnipiac
  • MAC – Bowling Green
  • MEAC – North Carolina A&T
  • MVC – Loyola-Chicago
  • Mountain West – Utah State
  • Northeast – Saint Francis (PA)
  • OVC – Belmont
  • Pac-12 – Oregon
  • Patriot – Bucknell
  • SEC – South Carolina
  • SoCon – UNC-Greensboro
  • Southland – Abilene Christian
  • SWAC  – Texas Southern
  • Summit – Omaha
  • Sun Belt – Texas State
  • WCC – San Francisco
  • WAC – Utah Valley State


The final 16 spots for the play-in tournament go to the 16 teams with the highest NET rating that haven’t met any other criteria (must be .500 or better). Those teams are…


  • Mississippi State (SEC)
  • Louisville (ACC)
  • Florida (SEC)
  • NC State (ACC)
  • Clemson (ACC)
  • Ole Miss (SEC)
  • Oklahoma (Big 12)
  • Texas (Big 12)
  • Furman (SoCon)
  • Syracuse (ACC)
  • Iowa (Big 10)
  • Washington (Pac 12)
  • Memphis (AAC)
  • Nebraska (Big 10)
  • TCU (Big 12)
  • Creighton (Big East)

Of the 48 teams remaining, the teams with the highest NET ratings will be the 1 seeds. Those teams are…


  • Virginia Tech
  • Maryland
  • Utah State
  • Iowa State
  • Mississippi State
  • Louisville
  • Florida
  • NC State
  • Clemson
  • Ole Miss
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Furman
  • Syracuse
  • Iowa
  • Washington


The next 16 teams by NET rating are a 2 seed. Those teams are…


  • Temple
  • Davidson
  • Lipscomb
  • Seton Hall
  • Northeastern
  • Southern Miss
  • Belmont
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • UNC-Greensboro
  • San Francisco
  • Utah Valley State
  • Memphis
  • Nebraska
  • TCU
  • Creighton


The remaining 16 teams are a 3 seed. Those teams are…


  • Stony Brook
  • Northern Colorado
  • Campbell
  • UC-Santa Barbara
  • Wright State
  • Harvard
  • Quinnipiac
  • Bowling Green
  • North Carolina A&T
  • Loyola-Chicago
  • Saint Francis (PA)
  • Bucknell
  • Abilene Christian
  • Texas Southern
  • Omaha
  • Texas State


Now you randomly draw the match ups for the 3 team play in tournaments. Don’t worry, I already did it for you…


  1. Wright State at Oregon (winner plays at Texas)
  2. Northern Colorado at Davidson (winner plays at Utah State)
  3. Saint Francis (PA) at South Carolina (winner plays at Ole Miss)
  4. UC-Santa Barbara at Lipscomb (winner plays at Oklahoma)
  5. Stony Brook at Memphis (winner plays at Maryland)
  6. Harvard at Utah Valley State (winner plays at Mississippi State)
  7. Texas State at Belmont (winner plays at Washington)
  8. Campbell at Northeastern (winner plays at NC State)
  9. Bowling Green at Seton Hall (winner plays at Clemson)
  10. North Carolina A&T at UNC-Greensboro (winner plays at Iowa)
  11. Texas Southern at San Francisco (winner plays at Iowa State)
  12. Quinnipiac at Temple (winner at Virginia Tech)
  13. Loyola-Chicago at Nebraska (winner plays at Furman)
  14. Abilene Christian at Creighton (winner plays at Syracuse)
  15. Omaha at Southern Miss (winner plays at Florida)
  16. Bucknell at TCU (winner plays at Louisville)


Will this ever happen? Hell no. Did I waste my time putting this together? Most definitely. But I refuse to be an in-the-box thinker. College basketball isn’t what it used to be. Let’s change it up and get weird. It’s not like it could hurt anything.


Thank you for attending my TED Talk. Please @ me on twitter at @ToddOnFranchise.


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