The First Four Should Not Be Considered Part Of The NCAA Tournament, Needs To Be A True Play-In Event
Let me get right to the point. I know the 'reasoning' of having the 16 seeds play each other here. They get win shares and money matters. Okay, we got that out of the way and can now make a point.
The First Four is not part of the NCAA Tournament. It's just not. I despise that schools celebrate winning an NCAA Tournament game when they win in Dayton. Since when? When did we have 16 seeds play each other in the NCAA Tournament. Bubble teams beating bubble teams shouldn't count the same. Not at an event where the NCAA once had to beg us to not call it the 'play-in.'
They've tried everything but a logical thought process. Every conference tournament winner should automatically be in the bracket. No more playing in Dayton. Everyone who says 'oh well at least they get a standalone game and a chance to win before losing to a 1 seed,' what about the team who loses? They don't even get the real experience. You're playing on a Tuesday against like the SWAC or NEC winner. Congrats! That ain't the NCAA Tournament.
So adjust win shares and payouts. If the money is that vital to these low-majors, make getting to the Tournament big enough for those conferences without this Dayton bullshit. Here's what the games at Dayton should be. The last 8 at-large teams, true play-in style. We can even call it a play-in without hurting people's feelings.
Every auto bid team automatically is in the real bracket. Then, for instance, this year the last 8 teams would be (in order) - USC, Utah State, NC State, Providence, Mississippi State, Pitt, Arizona State, Nevada. Let them play 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5. Simple. Win-win for all involved besides the normal field of 64 that the NCAA Tournament always should be. But this is how it was set up. Back when we had 64 teams, all these teams aren't in.
Again, I understand the money/win share deal for the 16 seeds who win for Dayton. But we can adjust that. People smarter than me can figure out numbers and everything for that. Instead give us what it should be. A play-in event. The First Four is above the NIT, but it's for sure not the NCAA Tournament. It's the right to get onto the real bracket. Treat it that way. I know the games were entertaining, but give me the 16 seeds already in and let's get 4 play-in games. The NCAA can keep their precious field of 68 and we can finally treat these two days for what it is.