The First Four is not the First Round, no matter what the NCAA says

I hate to give credence to the opinion that this site is the equivalent of an old man ranting constantly about a fly being in his soup, but the reshuffled labels to the NCAA Tournament rounds which debuted in 2011 is beyond asinine. 

This is the third year in which 8 teams teams will play for 4 spots in the familiar field of 64. Previously, there would be 2 teams playing a single game for entrance into the tournament.

When the tournament decided to add 3 more games and 3 more teams into the field by introducing this "First Four" concept (one I support as it saved us from going to a 96 team tournament), some anomaly in basic logic shifted the label of "the first round" of the entire tournament to this appetizer of games in Dayton. The end result:

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– 60 of the 68 teams don't play in the "first round"

– The vast majority of teams who win their first game then advance to the "third round" despite only playing one game.

– The simple question from your mom, boss, or creepy neighbor of  "Who do you play in the first round?" now either becomes an awkward elongated explanation or requires your participation in a white lie.

The thing that baffles me is that I don't get what was gained by doing this? Not money. Maybe pride for the 4 teams who get eliminated in Dayton who can say they played in the "first round" although that seems like such a measly payoff for such a unnecessary and illogical change.

To me it's the equivalent of having a time honored huge party that all of your friends look forward to. However, in your quest to enhance said party, you invite 8 friends out of 68 attendees to meet you somewhere else early. They are not your closest 8 friends. In fact, they are 8 people you probably wish wouldn't even show up.

You then decide to call that usually lackluster event "the party" and then refer to the much bigger party that everyone else will attend the "after hours party."

"Welcome! It's good to see you. Sorry you are a good friend and not a random acquaintance that was selected to attend the one hour of half off appetizers and well drinks at Chilis. You didn't miss much, but it's good you made the after party!"

Again, for this pretty insignificant oddity of March Madness, there are literally hundreds of things that make me smile as a sports fan. That said, every time I hear or see the references to "First Round" "Second Round" or "Third Round" I get mad only for the fact that I know millions of people are getting confused… and for what exactly? 

Also, I am aware that the 2011 VCU team doesn't fit perfectly in my analogy, but that gives you the opportunity to chime in the comments as to what type of party guest VCU was that year. 

Ben Koo

About Ben Koo

Copying and pasting my Twitter bio. I'm also refusing (for now) to write this in the third person. This is me - CEO of @Bloguin, GM at @AwfulAnnouncing, world's greatest chinese jew, proud Buckeye, funny dude, and sports and digital media zealot.

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