Issue # 25.3 “25 Years: The Conferences”


Tuesday, April 7, 2020 [ 1-Entries | 2-Teams ]

30-32 automatic bids each year, 9 conf never getting more than 1 bid

Teams and Titles by Conference

EL SEGUNDO/HOME, CA (smt)- Would the Big Ten (B10) have gotten a record 12 (of 14) teams into the tournament?  More likely 10 which would’ve been the second-highest ever (Big East (BE) 11 in ’11).  Would the Big Ten top the record 19 wins by the Atlantic Coast (ACC) in ’16?  But we’ll never know.  So without a tournament, here is another 25 Year retrospective, this time focusing on the conferences who have made the tournament (the proper 64 that is).

What we do know is that for the past 25 years, 38 conferences have existed with only the American West (AW) (’95-’96) and Great West (GW) (’10-’13) not putting any teams in (no automatic bid due to not enough teams in conference those years).  Currently, all 32 Division I conferences get an automatic bid (though again, four of the worst conference tournament winners will vie in First Four).  Nine conferences have never gotten an at-large bid.  From ’01-’10 the two lowest auto bid tournament champions (team #64 and #65) played in the Opening Round game.  From ’11 to present, the four lowest auto bid champions play in the First Four.  13 conferences have put their auto bid team in the Opening Round/First Four with the Southwestern Athletic (SWA) doing it 11 of 19 years.  Because they have lost 9 of those Opening Round/First Four games, the SWA have only placed a team in the proper 64 bracket 16 of 25 years.

The Atlantic 10 (A10) is a perfect 3-0 in the First Four with five others 2-0 (America East (AE) – keeping a streak of all 25 years with just one team in proper 64, Big West (BW), Colonial Athletic (CAA), Ohio Valley (OVC), and Summit (SUM)).  The Pac-12 (P12) is 3-4 (including losing both in ’18, the only conference to ever have 2 teams in First Four) while the Big 12 (B12) has appeared just once (won in ’17).  The Northeast (NEC) has appeared in 7 straight First Four games (’13 to present) going 3-4 (4-5 overall).  The Mid-Eastern Athletic (MEA) has lost 3 straight First Four games (’17 to present) (3-6 overall).  Despite this, the MEA actually has 3 wins in the tournament (#15 Coppin St ’97, #15 Hampton ’01, and #15 Norfolk St in ’12).

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#NotMe! See you in 2021!

Less than a day after announcing going ahead with the tournament without fans, the NCAA decided to pull the plug and cancelled March Madness. After the NBA had suspended play due to a Utah player testing positive for the coronavirus, Duke and Kansas strongly hinting they wouldn’t travel for the NCAA tournament, and after major leagues such as MLS and NHL paused their regular seasons (even minor ones like XFL), it was only a matter of time before everyone else followed suit. No one wants to be the “one” league that was defiant and then had an incident where players, coaches, and fans were exposed to the coronavirus. Better to be safe than sorry. Whether you agree or disagree, having a united front makes these decisions easier and will help slow the spread of the coronavirus. For some reason the USA cases went down 44 to 1,268 now (was 1,312). The USA only has 0.9% of all confirmed cases but that is likely to go up as more people get tested.

Despite California Governor’s call for no mass gatherings, after filling up gas I walked into Costco in Hawthorne, and they are definitely not following the rules! More than 150+ people packed like sardines, most standing in line all the way to the back of the store, everyone less than 6 feet from each other!

I am impressed with both the NCAA (all sport tournaments in Winter/Spring were cancelled as well) cancelling their big moneymaker (though the cynical side says it would have cost them more headaches and money holding games in empty arenas) and the lowly XFL which says they will still pay players and allow them to sign early with the NFL. Very classy.

Of course, thousands of athlete’s dreams (especially those who weren’t going to go pro) were crushed (#1 Kansas might get the title?), lots of Average Joes/Janes are now out of a job, and coaches may not get their postseason bonus money. Okay, that last one I don’t feel too sorry for.

As for our 26th HWCI NCAA Pool, the 26th will now be in 2021. At least the cancellation came before Selection Sunday so I don’t have to refund payments. Turning lemons into lemonade, this will give me a stress-free opportunity to reflect on the 25 years of the pool and will post periodically throughout March.

Also, while there is no First Four, there will still be the 10th HWCI NCAA First Four For Charity and an email will go out on no-longer-Selection Sunday on details on the charity and how I/you could donate to it.

Oh, Hi, Oh, Sorry, No Fans Allowed

Coming off the heels of the Ohio Governor banning large gatherings in the state (affecting Dayton’s First Four and Cleveland’s 1st/2nd Round games), the NCAA followed suit announcing (3/11/20) all March Madness games will be played without fans (in addition to all other NCAA sport tournaments such as the Frozen Four). This extreme precaution is an effort to not inadvertently contribute to mass community transmission of the coronavirus (aka, COVID-19) which has more than 126,000 confirmed cases and killed 4,638 people around the world (about 2/3rds from China). The USA has seen steady growth of daily cases and are now up to 1,312 (42 deaths, about 70% from Washington). Other sporting events have been affected as well.

Now big schools like Duke and Kansas will know what it feels like to be the Florida Marlins, Jacksonville Jaguars, or Ottawa Senators playing in front of sparse crowds with just essential staff, select media, and limited family members attending the games. The NCAA still sees incredible value for the athletes and teams who have worked hard for 1-4 years to make the big dance that, for now, the games will go on (unlike the Ivy League which just awarded Yale their entry, cancelling their conference tournament – sorry Harvard, Princeton, and Brown players). This offers the best chance at completing the tournament even if panic and chaos surrounds them in the next few weeks.

So how will this affect our 26th HWCI NCAA Pool? Nothing changes (for now) unless it is shown the virus can be transmitted via internet web entry submissions. However, possible clarifications will be:

  • For a given game, if one team forfeits (e.g., a team doesn’t want to travel), it counts as a loss just like any other outcome and their opponent will be the “winner”.
  • For a given game, if both teams forfeit, whatever method the NCAA uses to advance one of the teams to the next round (e.g., better seed advances, coin toss, coolest mascot) will be the “winner”.
  • If the tournament is postponed or paused, we will monitor and make a determination (e.g., if NCAA postpones Regional Finals/Final Four by a week or two to move into smaller arenas, we will just wait a week or two; if NCAA postpones until start of fall season (November), then we will probably refund).
  • If the tournament is cancelled, I have to go through the painful process of issuing refunds to everyone 🙂

Let’s hope and pray the coronavirus can be mitigated long enough (and hope it’s like the flu and is seasonal) for a possible vaccine next year. In the meantime, take precautions yourself and read about the latest at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website.