Philly fans, we really took the fall in this one.
Just 20 years ago, Penn State, the 13th seed in 1991 NCAA tournament, upset the fourth-seeded UCLA Bruins 74-69 in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Eastern Michigan in their bid to make the Sweet 16.
Loyal fans will remember that part of the reason Penn State prevailed in that game was because UCLA, who by all rights earned a No. 4 seed in the tournament, also earned the right to travel across the country to play a first-round game in Syracuse, New York, in the "East" Region against Penn State.
Well, now it is Penn State's turn to lick its chops, because when you tune in tomorrow and see where Penn State is playing, and who they're playing, you will have to wonder aloud . . .
Is this justice?
Fortunately, Philly fans aren't the only ones getting the shaft in the tourney this season. Let's have a look.
Duke is a No. 1 seed, and North Carolina is a No. 2 seed and they play their first-round games in Charlotte, North Carolina.
So what's the big deal?
They're in two different freaking regions!
Duke is the No. 1 seed in the West Region, while UNC is the No. 2 in the East Region.
Never mind the fact that two teams that play in the same freaking conference should be in the same freaking region.
Why does Duke get to play a first-round game in the West Region in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the least Western points on a map of the United States?
Humorously, there is a Southeast Region. Seems to me that Duke would have been a better No. 1 seed of that region than of the West Region.
Several, not one or two but several of the seeds in the West and Southeast Regions are perfectly flip-flopped.
The No. 3 seed in the West Region, hoping for a shot at playing in the Sweet 16 in Anaheim, California, is the University of Connecticut.
The No. 3 seed in the Southeast Region, hoping to play in the Sweet 16 in New Orleans, is BYU.
The No. 7 seed in the Southeast is UCLA, which is neither southern nor eastern. The No. 7 seed out West is Temple, which couldn't be less west.
The No. 11 seed out West is Missouri. The No. 11 seed in the Southeast is Gonzaga (from Washington).
Memphis, the home of the electric blues, right up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, is hoping for a shot to play in Anaheim as the No. 12 seed. The No. 12 seed in the Southeast is Utah State.
Vanderbilt, which plays in the Southeastern Conference, is the fifth seed in the Southwest Region.
Kansas State, which is located 679 miles west of Vanderbilt, is the fifth seed in the Southeast Region.
In fact, of the five Southeastern Conference schools in the tournament, only one is playing in the Southeast Region.
I am not going to spend a lot of time feeling sorry for the lowest seeds in the tournament, but...
Why does UC-Santa Barbara (15) have to travel 2,623 miles to Tampa, Florida to play University of Florida (2) in the Southeast Region, while UNC Asheville (16), the lowest-seeded team in the bracket, only has to travel 470 miles to play Pittsburgh in Washington, D.C.?
In fact, top-seeded Pitt will have to travel farther to get to D.C. than UNC Asheville will.
Washington, D.C., will be hosting the following teams in the first round of the tournament:
Butler (Indianapolis) (8)
Old Dominion (9)
Bucknell (Pennsylvania) (14)
UNC Asheville (16)
Meanwhile, West Virginia (5) is playing in Tampa, Georgetown (6) is playing in Chicago, George Mason (8) is playing in Cleveland and Richmond (12) is playing Denver.
Wouldn't it make more sense to just keep all the nearby teams in D.C. and send Cincinnati to Chicago, send Butler to Cleveland and send Missouri to Denver?
San Diego State had an amazing season, and capped it off by obliterating BYU at BYU, which is no easy feat.
But do they really deserve home-court advantage throughout the West Region?
In the first round of the West Region, San Diego State plays Northern Colorado in Tucson, Arizona. If they beat Northern Colorado, in the second round they face the winner of the Temple-Penn State game (more on that to come).
If they make it to the Sweet 16, they go on to Anaheim, California, which is all of 97 miles away, where they will either face...get this...UConn (3), Cincinnati (6), Missouri (11) or Bucknell (14), only one of which is even west of the gosh-darned Mississippi freaking River.
Then, if all goes according to plan, they will be playing Duke University for the chance to go to the Final Four. In Anaheim. California!
And check out what Duke has drawn as the top seed in the West: After playing the first two rounds in Charlotte, Duke could potentially have to get through University of Arizona and San Diego State in Anaheim to get to the Final Four.
Is the top-seeded team in a bracket really supposed to fly across the country to play the second-seeded team in the bracket 100 miles from its home court?
Hey UCLA, congratulations on a really great season. It was impressive the way you guys rallied from 9-6 to finished 22-10 on the season and earn a seventh seed in the tournament.
For your troubles, you get to go to...Tampa, Florida!!!
Sure, there are first-round games being played in Tucson, Denver and Tulsa, Oklahoma. But sorry, we just couldn't make it work any other way.
Yeah, sure, the seventh seed playing in Tucson is Temple, from Philadelphia, but you wouldn't have wanted to play in Tucson anyway.
You'd rather travel the 2,529 miles to go to Tampa, Florida.
Because lord knows cramming incredibly tall men onto an airplane for six hours and flying across four time zones won't impact their ability to play basketball at all.
These are the ones that really drive me insane.
I understand that not all the teams can play in the regions that make the most geographical sense. And I understand that some teams are going to have to travel farther than others to play their games.
But the University of Washington earned the seventh seed in the East Region this year and for its troubles it gets to travel 2,805 miles to Charlotte, North Carolina, to play the freaking 10th-seeded Georgia Bulldogs, who will have traveled all of 200 miles.
And, what's more, Washington could just as easily have been placed in the West Region, where the seventh seed is freaking Temple, who would have been all too happy to play in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The University of Wisconsin (4) and Belmont University (13) makes perfect sense as a matchup, as it pits a team from Madison, Wisconsin against a team from Nashville, Tennessee.
But why in the name of James Naismith is this game being played in Tucson, Arizona instead of Cleveland, Chicago, Charlotte or even Tulsa?
In fact, none of the games being played in the opening weekend in Tucson make any sense, from Wisconsin vs. Belmont to Kansas State (5) vs. Utah State (12) which belongs in Denver, to San Diego State (2) vs. Northern Colorado (15), which should feature UC Santa Barbara (15), which is playing in freaking Tampa, to...
...Temple vs. Penn State?!?!?!
For Philadelphia area sports fans, there is nothing to not like about this one.
Of the Big Five, only Villanova and Temple made it into the tournament this year, which means we have to adopt Penn State as one of our own for the purposes of March Madness.
But then the Pennsylvania teams have to cannibalize each other in the first round of the tournament?!?!
How fair is that? Pennsylvania's chances of being home to the NCAA champion this season are immediately reduced out of the starting gate.
That's alright, though. After all, this is a regional tournament and all these teams are from the same state. It is only fair. I'm sure that Duke and North Carolina are playing each other in the first round as well...oh, no wait, they're not even in the same region!
Which means North Carolina could potentially have two of its teams in the Final Four. Ugh.
Oh well, let's just suck it up and take a little road trip to see Penn State and Temple play each other. How far away can it be? Cleveland? Tampa? Charlotte?
Tucson, Arizona?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!? Is this justice?!?!?!
Ah, another year, another bracket.
Enjoy the tournament.