For everyone's who's always thought there's no rhyme or reason to the way the NCAA selection committee assigns teams to different regions, there is finally a proposal to apply some logic to the matter.
According to Fox News, researchers have proposed a new method for placing teams into the bracket that won't change seeding but should lead to savings on travel costs.
Truthfully, the new math is just a way to increase fan attendance and stop the NCAA from losing money, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's nothing more demoralizing as a player than playing in an empty stadium in what is supposed to be one of the main events in sports, and there's nothing more demoralizing as a fan when your team finally makes it into the dance and you realize you have to pay hundreds of dollars in plane fare if you want to see the game.
The new method, developed by operations researchers at the University of Alabama, maintains NCAA guidelines by rewarding top teams with games that are close to home and avoiding early-round games between teams from the same conference.
Sharif Melouk, one of the researchers, told Fox News' Chris Gorski:
"We're keeping everybody closer to home where hopefully more and more people will have interest in the games, and that way they'll go."
But is this really fair? Yes, it'll be nice for fans to be able to avoid traveling halfway across the country to see their teams play, but part of the benefit of being a top seed is that you get the luxury of home court advantage. And that's what it is: a luxury. Playing close to home isn't part of the rules; it used to be one of the perks of being one of the best.
The economy is bad—we all know that—and the exorbitant travel costs associated with attending these games does mean that many venues don't fill up. It's perfectly reasonable for the league to look for a way to stop hemorrhaging money.
But let's call a spade a spade, here: This is not about the fans. This is not a gift to them. This is happening because the NCAA doesn't want to lose money anymore, and it's just a shame that the top-performing teams might lose some of their hard-earned advantage as a result.