NCAA basketball tournament size is perfect, as are some other aspects of sports

IDEAL Yankees star Mickey Mantle wore a uniform that can't be beat.
IDEAL Yankees star Mickey Mantle wore a uniform that can't be beat. (AP)
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By Fred Bowen
Thursday, March 11, 2010

More is not always better. Take the NCAA basketball tournament, for example. As hoops fans get ready for March Madness next week, there is talk that the NCAA wants to expand the men's tournament to 96 teams.

I think letting more teams into the tournament would be a big mistake. Right now, the NCAA tournament includes 65 teams playing games on three weekends. Smaller schools get a chance to play, and maybe upset, the big basketball powers. Every once in a while, a Cinderella team such as George Mason University makes it all the way to the Final Four.

Thirty-one more teams would mean another weekend of games. Most of those 31 would just be mediocre teams from the big conferences such as the ACC, the Big Ten and the SEC. Who needs to watch them play? The NCAA tournament is perfect. Very few things in sports are perfect. So why change them?

Here are a few other examples of sports perfection that I hope will never change.

A baseball. When you take a new baseball out of a box and hold it in your hand, you can't wait to throw it. That's because a baseball is the perfect size and weight for throwing, even for kids. There is nothing quite like it. Although a new leather football is pretty close to perfect.

The New York Yankees uniform. I don't root for the team, but I'll admit that the Yankees home uniforms with the pinstripes and the dark hat with the white "NY" in the middle are the best uniforms around.

The Colts helmet. I just love the blue horseshoe on the side of the Indianapolis helmet. I only wish the Colts and their helmet had stayed in Baltimore.

Five on a side for basketball. When James Naismith invented the game in 1891, he didn't say how many players should be on each side. Five players on a side became standard around 1900.

The Masters in April. This famous golf tournament is always played when the flowers on the Augusta National golf course in Georgia are in bloom, reminding everyone up north that spring is on the way. The Masters tournament in June or September just wouldn't be the same.

The Olympics. If the Olympic Games happened every year, they would stop being so special. Having the Summer and Winter Olympics only every four years is just right. It is the same thing with soccer's World Cup. Playing such a huge worldwide event every four years is perfect.

Just like the NCAA basketball tournament.

Next week: Fred's teams to watch as the NCAA tournaments get underway.

Fred Bowen is the author of 14 kids sports books, including his first picture book, "No Easy Way: The Story of Ted Williams and the Last .400 Season."


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