The college basketball season is one week and 27 postseason tournaments too long. Like slush, the ACC's binge ought to be slung aside and allowed to disappear. So should all the other conference tournaments that either have begun or soon will. They make a great deal of money; they make very little sense.
A way to harness this excess will follow, but let's for the moment pick a team to illustrate it. We'll choose the best just now, the top-rated Duke Blue Devils.
Duke began the season by winning exactly what the world was eagerly awaiting, the first Big Apple NIT. If the Devils should reach the finals of the ACC tournament and eventually play for the NCAA championship, their schedule will have been 39 games long.
This is a teensy-bit shy of half an NBA season. And doesn't every right-thinking person know that even Larry Bird and Magic Johnson play far too many games?
North Carolina has played in Alaska; Georgetown has played in Hawaii; Navy has played in Japan. They could meander anywhere from Utah to Kansas City to Baton Rouge before arriving where everybody has wanted to since the first official practice dribble hit the floor Oct. 15: Reunion Arena in Dallas.
Now the young scholars at each of these schools probably have enjoyed the experience and are mature and conscious enough in class to handle it. Still, nearly 40 games is too many.
If the schools were preparing their athletes for the NBA, the traipsing through time zones could be easily justified. But we all know that 14 players out of 15 on nearly every collegiate roster have no chance at the pros.
Wasn't there a cry to shorten the schedule a few years ago, to 20 regular-season games? Wasn't it from Georgetown? Well, the NCAA certainly dashed for the scissors. Now teams no longer can play in both early-season hoop spas: Hawaii and Alaska.
Eliminating the postseason conference tournaments might prick that winning-is-the-only-thing mentality. So two or three teams end the regular season with identical records.
What's wrong with co-champions? What's so horrible about double or triple the amount of satisfaction?
The ACC is the league that popularized the postseason tournament. That was when only one team per conference was admitted into the NCAA's show.
Everybody in the other conferences laughed at the absurdity of the ACC playing an exhausting regular season and then determining its champion in Russian-roulette fashion.
The laughter ended when it became known how much money the ACC tournament generates. Now the only conferences that don't have postseason tournaments are the Big Ten, Ivy, Pac-10 and West Coast.
ACC worshippers say the tournament now actually benefits the poor and downtrodden more than ever. Because five or six of the haves already are assured a spot in the NCAA tournament, a gung-ho have-not can intercept lightning three straight days and win.
Hey, I'll let Wake Forest into the NCAA right now, no questions asked about that 0-14 league record. I'll let 'em in through the front door, along with Duke, Carolina, Georgetown and the 280-some other Division I schools.
The NCAA is what everyone covets, so cut out this conference-tournament nonsense and say: "Y'all come to the big party."
I'll go one step farther to help the luckless Wakes of college basketball. I'll give 'em a fair chance to win the NCAA tournament. Or a better chance than 40 of the 64 teams invited now have of winning a game. Or at least a way to keep the spread against Kansas under 28 at the half.
No, I won't give the Demon Deacons Danny Manning. Or make Larry Brown scoot to Winston-Salem, N.C., now that his usual collegiate hitch is about up. No temporary fixes here.
What I'll give the Davids to fight the Goliaths is a slingshot called The Three-Point Shot. This means that teams not blessed with giants can win with well-disciplined and sharp-eyed squirts.
A team with wonderful perimeter players would have a better chance at victory, but this is not the primary reason for The Three-Point Shot.
A three-pointer from a reasonable distance is necessary to keep the world from packing zones that smother creativity as well as skilled inside players.
Don't outlaw zones. Just make teams that employ them do so at some risk. Teams with the best talent almost always win with a 45-second clock. The Three-Point Shot would narrow the gap between the best and worst teams.
So here it is, once more for the slow learners, all of you who failed to get 700 on the SAT (Sports Adaptability Test): cut down on too burdensome a schedule, but without penalty for any team. Whittle the tournaments but enlarge the only one that really matters.
Then give everyone -- and college basketball -- a shot of inspiration with The Three-Pointer.
Some might ask: wouldn't a three-point shot actually help Georgetown this season? And Carolina. And Duke. The very teams that have been flattered in this entire exercise.
Yes, it certainly would.
Face reality: Dean Smith, John Thompson, Bobby Knight and the other exceptional coaches will win most of the time no matter what the rules.
If the baskets were lowered to two feet, Smith would recruit the slickest midgets. If shoes had to be tossed through the hoop instead of basketballs, Thompson would be pitching the stockroom guys at Thom McAn.
Never legislate against excellence. Do some weeding to give it a better chance to blossom.