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Examiner
  • Tim Crone: March Madness is best time of year

  • There is a lot to talk about in the sports world this week. I just got back into town and I have already heard all the gurus complaining about the Chiefs' deal for Alex Smith and everyone is discussing the great spring training start for the Royals.

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  • There is a lot to talk about in the sports world this week. I just got back into town and I have already heard all the gurus complaining about the Chiefs' deal for Alex Smith and everyone is discussing the great spring training start for the Royals.
    But sports fans, it is March and it is time for March Madness!
    Just like everyone else in the country, I become a big college basketball fan this time of year. Since retiring, we travel to a warm climate as much as possible but we have to be back in Kansas City in time for the start of the Big 12 tournament. It is great to see teams play all out for a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.
    When the tournament finally does start, the single-elimination makes every game an entertaining and exciting game. This year differs from the last several years when two or three teams looked as locks to play in the national championship.
    Last year, for example, Kentucky was the most likely to win it all. They had a team full of players who were one-and-done guys headed for big contracts with the NBA. This year, you can probably put a dozen teams in a hat and any one of them would have an equal chance to play in the big game.
    The NCAA selection committee is going to have a hard time picking the top four seeds for the tournament. Usually, this is set for at least the first three seeds. Not this year. Let’s take a look at some of the possible choices for the committee – Indiana, Duke, Kansas, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Michigan, Creighton, Louisville, Miami, Michigan State and Florida. All of these teams have been mentioned by the so-called experts on ESPN and other sports media outlets.
    I think this year the committee should go more with how the teams are playing in the present and with the difficulty of schedule. The different ratings such as the RPI make it tough to come up with a fair field for the tournament. This year may one of the toughest to come up with a true indicator of who should be in the NCAA field. Every year a team like Butler or VCU will jump up and surprise us all. That is exactly what heightens the suspense during the tournament.
    I only wish the college football format was more like the basketball tournament, a subject for another time.
    The three local favorites should be shoe-ins for this year’s dance. Missouri has really struggled on the road but has been tough as nails at home. Kansas State really has hung in the Big 12 race with big and exciting road wins. Kansas has been able to overcome a midseason three-game losing streak to rebound as the leader of the conference again. The Jayhawks are playing as good as anyone in the country right now.
    Page 2 of 2 - These three local schools will be teams to avoid by the rest of the country. A problem I have always had with the NCAA selection committee is that the East Coast media machine appears to have too much influence on the committee picks.
    Teams out West really take a back seat due to this bias. If a team like Gonzaga continues to win, they deserve a No. 1 regional seed.
    The Big Ten could have as many as eight teams in the field, the Big East could possibly have eight and the ACC could surface with six.
    I guess we can talk about the selection process for hours, but the real enjoyment is the games and the all-out effort given by every team. They know they must play hard and perform well on every play. If not, they may be watching the next game on their own television. Love this time of year!
    n I will discuss the Alex Smith deal at a later date, but I support Chiefs coach Andy Reid and the organization on this one. I hope that people realize that proven NFL quarterbacks do not grow on trees.
    n Look for Luis Mendoza to be the surprise fifth starter in the Royals’ starting rotation.
    n My quote of the week comes from the great North Carolina coaching legend Dean Smith: “You improve by playing the good teams. The effort is the big thing. If we play hard, the best I think we can, and still loose, then I have to be pleased regardless of the outcome.” (That is how the NCAA tournament works every year.)
     
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