After pinching myself (hard) to wake myself up from what I thought was a dream, I finally accepted that either VCU or Butler will be playing for the Men’s NCAA Basketball National Title this year.
Huh? Yep, that’s not a joke.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the NCAA Tournament just as much as every other red-blooded American sports fan. And I have to say that it is undeniably intriguing that either of those two teams will actually have a shot at the title. That being said, the present circumstances certainly call into question the legitimacy of determining a National Champion in such a manner.
When Matt Hasselbeck’s five-year-old son can out-pick 95 percent of the country—including NCAA analysts—by selecting teams based on mascot, one begins to question the system. In fact, out of over five million brackets filled out online at ESPN.com, only two have the Final Four picked correctly.
Now, since I like filling out a bracket as much as the next five year old, I’m not proposing any changes to the current system. I only marginally care about NCAA basketball as it is. If there was no tournament, that amount would be far closer to zero. However, this Final Four matchup has caused me to think about other sports and their methods for determining a champion.
Which ones have it right? Which champions can legitimately display that title with pride and not embarrassment?
Let’s take a look at all the major American sports and see which of their postseason champion-crowning methods are legitimate, debatable or ludicrous. I will take into consideration a number of factors in evaluating the systems, including: the importance and sanctity of the regular season, the pool size for possible winners, the probability of a one-off upset and the probability of an underdog winning it all.
Here we go.