Like the rest of the sane world, your day was vastly improved by watching Duke fall to 14-seeded Mercer. It was beautiful. It was hectic. It was nonsensical. It was chaos.
I love chaos. The majority of things I wind up doing are done solely for my own entertainment/amusement, which doesn't tend to result in much order for my surroundings. But it does make everything more fun to watch.
While riding through western Kansas yesterday, I started brainstorming: What would I do to make the NCAA Tournament more interesting/chaotic/magical? I came up with six proposals, one of which is actually realistic. Few things would make me happier than you adding your own thoughts in the comments.
Proposal #1: Keep the teams from knowing their opponents
This is easily the most impossible of my proposals, but holy shit would it make games fantastic. Think how different Selection Sunday would be. Instead of learning their seeding, teams are just told "Hey! You made it! Be here at this time. Wear this jersey." We the people would know everything, of course. I'm not taking away the tradition of filling out brackets. I'm just suggesting that the teams and coaching staffs only learn who they play as they take the court.
No days of preparation. No advanced scouting. If you love upsets (and you do because you are not soulless), imagine how many more upsets would occur with big conference power teams completely uneducated about mid-majors star players and tendencies. It would be almost like pick-up basketball, as strengths would remain almost completely hidden until tip-off. But unlike pick-up basketball, everyone is still talented.
I realize this idea is completely impossible in the Internet Age (or any era really), so we'll just pretend if a player or coach found out, they'd be ruled ineligible for the tourney. Enjoy living in the dark for two weeks!
Proposal #2: Duke and Kansas must use playground scoring
Watching Duke and Kansas lose is basically a highlight every year. Some years they win it all, and that sucks. But every now and then, they lose far earlier than should be acceptable and we briefly learn that Mercer and Bucknell are actual institutes of higher learning. Wouldn't it be great if these obnoxious bluebloods were knocked off by double digit seeds every year?
The answer is yes. If you said no, I am very curious as to why you're on our lovely site in the first place. How can I go about all but promising the Jayhawks and Blue Devils would practically never make it past the first weekend? By forcing them to play using playground rules. Field goals are only worth one point. Threes? I think you mean twos. These schools automatically have massive advantages over their lower seeded opponents in recruiting and facilities (and usually coaching). My idea greatly levels that playing field by reducing scoring efficiency for the Goliaths of the world.
Proposal #3: Player theft
One of my favorite things in the old NBA and NFL Street video games was roster theft. When you beat a team, you were always given the option of poaching one of the other teams' players to then add to your roster. Beat the Denver Broncos? Steal Champ Bailey (this was a long time ago). Stomp the Lakers? Enjoy your new Kobe Bryant. I would love to see the same thing happen during the tournament.
Mercer beat Duke today (just gonna keep on typing it). The odds still aren't in their favor that they'll advance much, if any, farther. But what if they were allowed to borrow Jabari Parker until they ultimately lost? Yes, it would be difficult for a player to adjust that quickly to a new scheme and system, but the talent boost is undeniable.
By the end of March, you'd be watching bizarre Frankenstein All-Star rosters composed of actual teammates and All-Americans. Coaches at schools like Wofford and Mercer could potentially show their abilities to properly use five star talents, goosing their recruiting pitches. The best players would have better chances of cutting down the nets and at least one mid-major hero per year would play in the championship game. It's legally and logistically impossible and completely invalidates the regular season, but that's kind of the point of this exercise.
Proposal #4: A team from every state must dance
A very rare thing happened this year: no team from Illinois or Indiana made it to the big dance. That's pretty nutty, right? You have a state that only cares about basketball and another state that annually produces some of the top talent in the game, and neither manage to send a single representative to the most important tournament of the season? Outrageous!
It's not like people in either state are going to ignore March Madness because their beloved Illini/Hoosiers/Boilermakers/Salukis didn't make it. But let's pretend that's the case (remember, we're in a world of pure imagination here)! Ratings are plummeting! The sport is doomed! What should we do?
We should borrow one of MLB's more humorous ideas. Instead of a player from every team making the All-Star Game, I'm suggesting at least one team from every state makes the field of 68. Is this horribly unfair in every way? Yes. Yes, it is. Hawaii is all but promised a berth each season while states like North Carolina, Florida, and California are hilariously forced to scramble and pray they land one of the 18 at large spots. Would it make for a better tournament? Probably not, unless you mean the NIT. Would it make for complete and utter chaos? Yes.
Proposal #5: Fewer timeouts
I understand the need for TV timeouts. Advertisers pay out the butt for the privilege to annoy us with thirty seconds of repeated mediocrity to promote their brands. That's why we're able to watch every game, even though a handful wind up on TruTV. But does each team really need five timeouts? No. When combined with the TV timeouts, it all adds up to far too much stoppage. Get rid of at least one.
Proposal #6: Ban UNC
Never forgive. Never forget.