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Date Posted: 10:21:33 03/17/04 Wed
Author: NTKHC64
Subject: Abolish Play-In Game-SI Extra:Almost Degrading

It’s a nice little story that unspooled last night in Dayton. If you cared to notice, Florida A&M, which started the season 1-10, beat Lehigh 72-57 in the NCAA tournament play-in game. The 15-16 Rattlers move on to face Kentucky, the top seed in the St. Louis regional, on Friday in Columbus, where that nice little story—and the Rattlers’ season—will surely end. A No. 1 has never lost to a No. 16, which raises a question: Why on earth do they have a play-in game? Supporters point to the fact that it opens up another slot in the field; a team such as Air Force, the 11th seed in the Atlanta regional, might not be in the dance if not for the play-in. But the voices of those who want to scrap the game are growing louder by the year—a chorus that includes SI associate editor B.J. Schecter. "It’s almost degrading to make teams play in this game," says Schecter, one of SI’s college basketball editors. "Nobody cares about the play-in game because, frankly, neither team is very good and you know the winner will get slaughtered in the first round. So I say, ‘Lose it.’ The sooner the better."

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[> Re: Abolish Play-In Game-SI Extra:Almost Degrading -- JRGNYR, 19:28:50 03/17/04 Wed

You can't really disagree with that logic, now can you?

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[> [> Re: Abolish Play-In Game-SI Extra:Almost Degrading -- LocalFan, 21:42:24 03/17/04 Wed

I don't recall the columnist on AOL who advanced the idea a couple of weeks ago, but the best recommendation I've heard is to keep the game (since its sole purpose is to allow an additional at large team into the field by expanding the field from 64 to 65 teams, with the extra team being an at large selection), but to force the last two at-large selections to play in the game.

To date, the 2 lowest rated league champions have been relegated to the play-in game, and the last two at large teams that snuck into the tournament have escaped it. All of the at-large teams get to enjoy all of the special experiences that mark the first week of the tournament. Meanwhile, the play-in teams have to travel on the day after selection Sunday, and the winner then has to travel again on Wednesday to play on Thursday or Friday against the top-rated team in the tournament. It's like sending the Christians to fight the lions.

This columnist suggested that the last 2 at large teams generally are undeserving to begin with, and often are the 5th or 6th ranked teams in their league, and he recommends that they should be the teams required to compete in the play-in game. This would allow all of the league champions to enjoy the first week of the tournament. And face it, for the 2 lowest ranked league champs, just getting into the tournament and having the chance to participate in that first game is a very special experience that most of these players will never duplicate. These teams, and their players, should be rewarded, not the 5th ranked team in the Big Ten and the 6th ranked team in the ACC.

I think the columnist's suggestion makes a lot of sense, but since the NCAA is now run by the major conferences and the big schools and it is all about money, it will never come to pass.

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