Sunday, November 26, 2006

March Madness : Basketball :: December Delirium : Football

In the spirit of the now retired SAT analogy, March Madness is to Basketball as what is to Football? December Delirium is the answer, or should be. March Madness is the college basketball tournament. December Delirium, I propose, should be the tournament for college football. There's been all this dispute over who should go to the championship. I say, we should just have a tournament like that for NCAA basketball to decide. This would quiet all the complaining about does a one loss team from such-and-such conference, eg SEC, deserve to go over a undefeated team from a so-called lesser conference, eg Big East. Obviously, this problem has largely taken care of itself with several upsets, but if that hadn't occurred, people would still be complaining. I'll say up front I'm a U of L fan, so I obviously think if they had gone undefeated they would have deserved to go to the Championship.

Truth be told, a single elimination tournament, the only practical type, would not ensure that the top 2 teams in the country, if you could objectively determine that, would make it to the championship. (So I take back what I just said.) If the two best teams played each other before the championship game then one of them would be knocked out. Like with Michigan and Ohio State last week. Sure, you can seed the bracket to try to avoid that. The problem is, you're already assuming you know who the best teams are before you even start the tournament. If you already know, why even bother having a tournament to begin with? Now I'm not saying we should get rid of seeding brackets in March Madness, that would just be dumb. But only one of the teams in the Final Four are guaranteed to actually be in the top 4 teams, assuming there are no upsets.

If you really want to see the top two teams make it to the championship in a tournament, you would have to have a double elimination tournament. To know the top 3 teams, a triple elimination tournament. And to know the top 4 teams, a quadruple elimination tournament. To sum it up in a mathematical theorem, to determine the top N teams, you need a N-elimination tournament. (Bet you've never seen mathematics applied to football.) If you wanted to precisely rank every team, you would basically have to have a round robin, which would require a season of several years. This would apply for any sport. Of course, again, this is all assuming that teams don't have bad days and that you would get the same outcome each time two teams play each other in a season.

So what's my point? My point is that it would be impractical and realistically impossible to actually be able to make sure the best 2 college football teams make it to the Championship. Right now, there's controversy over who should go. But even if we did add December Delirium, we'd still have no guarantee that the top 2 teams actually make it to the Championship. However, there would still be benefit from having a tournament,. I think we'd see some really good games with let's say the top 8 teams playing each other. (Let's not get into how do you determine who makes it into the tournament, since the same problems as deciding who makes it to the Championship would persist.) So I say go ahead and have December Delirium, despite the fact it won't quiet all the controversy.

(By the way, if you're the NCAA, I want compensation for December Delirium. I'm willing to settle for several good tickets, hotel stay, and first class flights to and from the games.)
(If you're Arby's reading this. I have an idea for advertising for you all, the "Arby's Turnover of the Game. It goes without saying I'll want at least Arby's Turnovers for life, although I'm willing to negotiate."

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