Maybe it’s just another sign of getting old but I’m about “basketball’d out”.

Between NCAA tournament games, WIAA state tournament games and yes, even the Milwaukee Bucks, I’ve just about had my fill of the hardcourt. And yet today there remain games with both Badger men’s and women’s teams along with the UWGB women’s game. It’s a damn good thing I have an understanding wife.

It really makes me wonder about the current push to expand the NCAA tournament to 96 teams. I grew up playing basketball more than any other sport and I love the college game, but I believe we can have too much of a good thing. Do we really need, or (perhaps more accurately) can we really withstand, another round of wall-to-wall games that would ensue with that large an increase in the field?

As I see it, the 96-team proposal is simply a cash grab by the NCAA with the support of coaches trying to pad their resumes and/or salaries. The argument that worthy teams are left out of the NCAAs just doesn’t wash. Teams have had all season to make their case for inclusion and, failing that, essentially get a “do over” in their conference touraments. Even with a 96 team field, you’ll still have the 97th thru 101st teams complaining that they didn’t make it.

If the NCAA wants to throw a bone to its members, then add three 3 more play-in, er, opening round games to the tournament. Since they already have one, it’s only fair that the other #1 seeds have to face a team that has played two days prior. And then let’s make sure that the last eight teams in the field actually play in them. It shouldn’t automatically be the likes of Prairie View A&M or some ‘compass point school’ in the play-in games. If, say Illinois or Virginia Tech are on the bottom of the tourney totem pole, let them play their way in. That should be more than enough to eliminate the whining in all corners.

On the other hand, after what has transpired in the tournament so far, maybe the NCAA should forget about seeding altogether and simply pick the matchups out of a hat………..
With all the basketball that’s been on the last few days, I still didn’t get to see one of the games in which I was most interested. My hometown UW-Stevens Point Pointers brought home the NCAA Division III title on Saturday. Props to coach Bob Semling’s team for winning it’s 3rd D-3 national title in the last 7 years.
Congratulations also go to the Hartland Arrowhead high school boys basketball team, which unexpectedly destroyed Madison Memorial in the WIAA Division I championship game Saturday night. Marquette fans looking for consolation in the wake of their opening round loss in the NCAAs couldn’t have been encouraged by prize recruit Vander Blue’s quiet performance for Memorial. Like many other high school phenoms, it appears he needs to learn to play a little better without the ball in his hands.
Maybe these Bucks are for real after all. After a disappointing loss to the Clippers in the opening game of their 3 game Western road trip, Milwaukee followed with a double-overtime win over Sacramento and a gritty, gutty (homage to Scott Skiles) win last night at Denver, overcoming off games by point guard Brandon Jennings and center Andrew Bogut. This team is showing some heart that has been lacking in recent years.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the ad that (sadly) former Green Bay Packer Aaron Kampman took out in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel thanking the Packers and their fans for their support during his time in Green Bay. In doing such a thing, Kampman exhibited the class that has always marked his career on and off the field. He will be missed.
And, despite what I wrote at the outset about being nearly burned out on B-ball, “GO BADGERS!”. The way this year’s NCAA tournament is progressing, a real opportunity exists for them to make a big splash. If they don’t crash and burn against Cornell today, that is.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


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  • Alex

    I agree that 96 is too many. Revenue wise sure, but the NCAA has a near perfect thing going with that tourney and should keep it that way as well as using it as a model for other sports.

    As for the Bucks… FEAR THE DEER!

    Nice read Wally

  • Alex

    I forgot to mention my late father was a professor at the UWSP for 30 years. He used to listen to every pointer game on the radio no matter wher he was.

    He is totally smiling now.

  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    I grew up in Stevens Point watching Dick Bennett’s Pointers. Good to see that the program is still in good hands.

  • Wally

    Alex – thanks but have to give credit where credit is due to BigSnakeMan, aka my Uncle Mike who wrote this post. Now just need to get more out of him! ;-)

  • Chris

    I have been more moderate in consuming my basketball this season, sticking to a strictly UW diet until this week. It has helped that I saved myself the annual humiliation of filling out brackets. Still, even with those prophylactic measures, the teasing of warm weather has me primed for the Crew to get going.

    I must admit, the “Fear the Deer” slogan is pretty nice. Even nicer is fearing the deer for entirely different reasons this season than in past years. Yesterday on Twitter I, too, raised the notion that this Bucks team just might be for real. After a typical start, they seem to have figured things out midseason. Not sure how things suddenly came together, but John Hammond and The Gritty and Gutty One have assembled what appears to be a winning team. Props to all concerned. Perhaps I will even watch a game at some point.

    I was a student at UWSP when Dick Bennett turned what was then a sad sack program around. I figured things would sag once Dick moved to UWGB. Instead, things have gotten better. It is amazing what can be done when an institution is not burdened with the yoke of a tradition of academic excellence.

    Also on hoops, our friend The Dean eMailed last night with a suggestion about the Tournament. Rather than expand to 96 teams, Dan suggested letting everyone in and eliminating those silly conference tournaments. I am not sure I would go that far, but if the NCAA is committed to killing off the financial loser that is the NIT and expanding to 96 teams, then at least do us a favor and also put a fork in the conference tournaments. The extra week of play should be enough to compensate for losing “Championship Week.”

    Finally, a note about that Domino’s Pizza commercial set in New Orleans that seems to he in Hot Rotation on CBS this weekend. First, Domino’s Pizza is poison and should be avoided at all costs. Second, the courthouse in front of which the ad is shot, is named for Judge John Minor Wisdom. I was lucky enough to sit in this great man’s study 15 years ago and I consider it one of the privileges of my life. I suggest checking this out:

    I think it is important that Judge Wisdom not be remembered simply as a backdrop in a pizza spot.

  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    A few points of note:

    1. “Fear the Deer” is awesome! I shall use it every chance I get.

    2. Should also be some “Pointer love” for Jack Bennett who amazingly exceeded his brother’s accomplishments with two nat’l. titles.

    3. With all due respect to the esteemed Mr. Bernstein, I’m not really in favor of the expansion he suggests. At least I can ignore the NIT, though with UNC & UConn this year it probably has more marquee schools than at any time since McGuire took Chones & Meminger to the title.

    4. Wally, cut me some slack. I do have a day job, you know.