John Feinstein: New NCAA 68-team tournament format could have been worse

By John Feinstein
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There's a very old joke about a funeral. The rabbi stands in front of the congregation and says, "I know you all have something you want to say about our dear departed friend. So instead of a eulogy, I'd like you each to stand up and tell us what you loved best about him."

Complete silence.

"Don't be shy," the rabbi says. "I know this is hard. Who's going to go first?"

More silence.

Finally, the rabbi says, "Okay, I'm going to get this started. You, Adam, in the first row, you start us off."

Adam reluctantly gets to his feet, shrugs and says, "His brother was worse."

That joke came to mind Monday when the NCAA men's basketball committee finally got around to revealing how the new and un-improved 68-team tournament will work next March.

It could have been worse.

Of course, it could have been a lot better.

And because the NCAA is the NCAA, we still don't know all the details. One can only hope that by Selection Sunday, the committee will figure out exactly where it is going to send teams to begin the tournament.

Here are the basics:

-- The four play-in games will be called first-round games. This is so NCAA and means that no fewer than 60 teams -- that has to be a record for any event, right? -- will have "byes" into the second round.


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