Bernucca: You Can Have the NCAA Tournament

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sportsWICHITAstate_t640I don’t like the NCAA Tournament.

I don’t like that college basketball’s regular season provides little postseason incentive. I don’t like that the coach is a bigger personality than the players. I don’t like that the games are played on neutral courts. I don’t like that one bad game or bad call or bad break can end a team’s season. I don’t like that “close” becomes a synonym for “well-played.” And I don’t like that poor play determines the outcome much more often than great play.

Most of all, I don’t like how I’m supposed to just accept that it’s fantastic and wonderful and beautiful, when it’s actually substandard basketball in a flawed format that tells me less and less every year about the game I love, which is the NBA.

I’m not trolling here. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’ve truly felt this way for a while. Part of it is admittedly a lingering distaste developed over more than a decade of working on a sports news desk and spending countless hours having to plan, preview, write, edit, update and package all of the words and numbers associated with the NCAA Tournament.

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Our night with John Adams, the NCAA’s head of officials

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It’s a dark, snowy Tuesday night in Hamden, Connecticut, the kind that last all basketball NCAA director of officials and referees season in the Northeast. John W. Adams is sitting by himself in the last row at the TD Bank SportsCenter, preparing to take in yet another game in the long stretch of games that make up his life each winter.

Over the next five months, the NCAA’s head of men’s basketball officials will traverse the country, going from city to city, small gym to huge arena, to evaluate as many of our nation’s college basketball officials as he can. His recommendations will determine which referees make it to the NCAA Tournament, which ones advance, and ultimately, who will toss the ball into the air at the Final Four.

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