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The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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COLUMN: March Madness should not be changed

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Patrick Schmitz

With March Madness underway for the men’s college basketball tournament, there have been talks about changing the tournament.

However, the tournament is perfect as it is, and there should not be any changes to it. 

The change that many people are talking about is getting rid of automatic bids. This means that teams that win their conference tournaments will not be automatically added to the NCAA tournament.  

The SEC commissioner, Greg Sankey, has come out and said he thinks that the NCAA basketball tournament would be better without mid-major schools getting automatic bids.

That would be terrible for the tournament.  

One of the best parts of the tournament is the upsets. Without automatic bids for smaller schools, we would rarely if ever see these big upsets again. We also would not have Cinderella stories anymore, as no one would call a 12-seed University of North Carolina a Cinderella. 

In the current NCAA tournament, the biggest story has been 14 seed Oakland University beating 3 seed Kentucky. The subtraction of automatic bids could get rid of this reality.  

Oakland is only in the tournament because they won the Horizon League. Many upsets and Cinderella stories from past tournaments have come from conference winners. 

Most people remember Saint Peter’s University and their spectacular run in 2022. People still remember 16-seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County beating Virginia in 2019. Both of those teams would not have been there without being conference champions. 

Getting rid of automatic bids would also mean Eastern might never see the tournament again. It is already very hard for Eastern to make the tournament, as they must win the Ohio Valley Conference. However, with no automatic bids, it would be even more difficult. EIU would need to be regarded as one of the best 68 teams in the country.  

With that, small schools would get replaced with schools at bigger conferences primarily because they are bigger and have more money. Small school sports would suffer greatly because of that. 

The main reason small schools and conferences would suffer is because of the lost money. Small schools also get their conferences paid good money for just making the tournament. With no automatic bids, that money could get taken away from some conferences.  

How conferences get money is by something called units. Every game played in the tournament gives the conference one unit until the championship game. This one unit is then spread out over six years to the conference.  

This year, one unit is worth roughly $2 million, according to Sportico. This means that Oakland would have made $4 million for the Horizon League over the next six years. This lets the Horizon League put more money into their sports and be able to compete with bigger conferences. 

Without this money for these smaller conferences, these conferences would barely grow. 

Getting rid of automatic bids would get rid of smaller schools, and it all but eliminates the feel-good upsets. 

Overall, the tournament is fine as it is. There are fun upsets, and the fans get some good basketball played over three weeks. Trying to change one of the best postseasons in sports would hurt it more than it would help it.  

 

Patrick Schmitz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 

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About the Contributor
Patrick Schmitz, Sports Reporter
Patrick Schmitz is a freshman sports media relations major. This is his first year at The News. 

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