Friday, March 4, 2011

The NCAA and its unnecessary name changes

True or false: Cleveland is hosting first- and second-round games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament later this month.

False, and this will take some getting used to. What used to be the first and second rounds are now the second and third rounds.

Previously, the setup included the opening round - more commonly referred to as the play-in game - which fed into the traditional first-round games on Thursday and Friday. The second-round games on the weekend fed into the Sweet 16 and so on.

With the expansion to 68 teams for this year's Big Dance, the four games played earlier in the week are called the first round. The NCAA is also calling it the "First Four," which means no one else will use that phrase. Those four winners advance to the second round, which will be on Thursday and Friday, and so on. So if a friend offers you tickets to a third-round game, don't think it's the Sweet 16.

No one called it the opening round when that was the official name, mainly because there was only one game. But "opening round" would make a great name now.

This is similar to the NCAA changing the football divisions from I-A and I-AA to Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision. The changes weren't needed.

- Howard Primer


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