The Automatic Bid

*Gets out soapbox*

*Climbs aboard*

*Clears throat*

Let’s talk about automatic bids. I currently have a poll on my Twitter page (@thegrogspot) asking who should get the bid. It has always been given to the team that wins the conference tournament. I’ve always felt that the regular season champion should get the bid. Now, I’ve never assumed that any opinion of mine should be gospel, but it’s worth talking about.

First off, if you’re in a major conference and you win the regular season, you’re in regardless. But the smaller conferences are where the apparent injustices lie. You can have a really good team with a 25-5 record booted out of the tournament and headed to the NIT because of a single ill-timed loss. Meanwhile, a 13-16 team gets hot and faces Villanova/Duke/Kansas in the 1st round. This makes for boring basketball.

We don’t want to see games with a 37 point spread in March. We want competition, we want quality games. For each undeserving team that gets in, a quality bubble team gets sent to the NIT. Most will argue that if they were a quality team, they wouldn’t be on the bubble. And rightly so. But I’d rather see a 19-13 major conference team than the 278th ranked team in the country get lucky at the right time only to get blown out in the 1st round.

There may be no perfect answer to this. But I do hope they look at this eventually and try to make it better. I even have dreams of a 96 team field. Seeds 1-8 get a Tuesday/Wednesday bye. 9-24 play Round 1, then we’re set at 64 teams come Thursday, just like we have now. Only then would #1 seeds have any semblance of competition in their first game.

However, here we are on the cusp of the greatest time of the year. March Madness is around the corner, my flight to Vegas is booked, and I have no idea how I’m going to bet yet. Perfect. Who ya got?

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