Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

March 19, 2014

Running the Point: Selection committee loves in-state pairings

By MacKenzie Bates - Sports Editor
Journal-Times

March 19, 2014 — March is one of my favorite months of the year.

Colors start coming back outside, temperatures get warmer and of course the NCAA Tournament bracket is revealed and the road to a championship is set.

But some roads are more traveled than others. Over the past few seasons, the NCAA Tournament selection committee likes to create storylines and drama and this year is no different.

What I cannot stand is why the committee feels like pairing bigger schools with the smaller schools inside their own state and have them play on opposite sides of the country.

Take three years ago when Morehead State and Louisville faced each other in the 2011 tournament; 139 miles separates the two schools on I-64. Rather than pair MSU with another No. 4 seed school outside Kentucky say, Wisconsin or Texas (UK was the other No. 4 seed in the tournament that year), they put the Eagles and Cards in the same matchup in Denver, Colo. The same thing happened in 2005 when UK met Eastern Kentucky, a 25-minute drive down I-75 and they played in Indianapolis.

This year’s in-state matchup? Ohio State vs. Dayton. Two schools just a mere 78 miles from each other must travel to Buffalo, N.Y. to play their contest.

It’s silly.

And unnecessary.

I know the Buckeyes and Flyers have not met in a game since the 2008 quarterfinals of the NIT and have not had a regular season series since the 1984-88 seasons. I do not know why the series stopped but if they don’t want to play each other, then that’s up to the schools.

Often times the bigger, power conference schools get first or sometimes even second round matchups with schools from their same state, further dividing party lines between the two fan bases.

But why continue to set those games up year after year when there could be other exciting matchups these schools could be a part of. Some of them even play during the regular season, so why get a rematch of a game that already happened?

The NCAA Tournament selection committee should be original and not give fans the same old song and dance. I get that it creates more drama and higher television ratings in those particular areas. But will anyone in Texas or California care to watch Ohio State vs. Dayton? Or could Dayton face the Longhorns and the Buckeyes square off with Stanford to cast a bigger net on a much broader audience.

I love the NCAA Tournament and the excitement it brings to fans across the country. But let's have more enticing matchups than an in-state showdown between two schools that seemingly can’t agree on playing during the regular season.