So, I am a soccer snob. Err, football snob. That being said, I am a staunch supporter for promotion and relegation in American soccer. That led me to thinking, what would college basketball look like if it were in an open system too, like English football?
Introducing promotion and relegation would be so much fun. The best teams of college basketball would play each other a few times each year, not even including the tournament. Imagine Kentucky playing Duke and North Carolina in a week, and then playing Arizona and Gonzaga the next.
The first step would be to destroy the current organization of college basketball. The arbitrary groupings of conferences? Gone. The genius of Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pac-12 (Editor’s note: Bah God the horror)? No longer an issue. A conference of ten teams called the Big 12? A conference of fourteen teams called the Big 10? Who comes up with this crap!
Also, get rid of the one and done rule. Don’t @ me.
No longer will teams like Gonzaga be able to play a few talented, yet raw, teams in October to gain notoriety, and then coast through conference play. It also will guarantee that good teams won’t be punished by being in a conference without any other good teams.
Possibly the best result of this college basketball system would be the TV aspect. The top division would be able to negotiate their own TV contracts. That way, the best teams are always on national networks.
After tearing down the current organization system, the next step would be to organize the open pyramid. What would that look like? The top level would obviously have the best, say, 11 schools. The second level should probably also have 21 schools, as well, in order to promote the best competition. The second tier teams would play each just once, rather than have a home-home series against everyone, like in the first division. After that third level should have 40 teams. Third level teams would just play half of the teams in their league. After that, the fourth level would split into four regional leagues, with 21 teams each. The fifth division would be similar to that, although the leagues would have more teams. Two of the leagues would have 48 and the other two would have 47.
Each team would play 20 conference games. At the end of each conference season, the best team of the top division would be like a regular conference champion, but for all of college basketball. It’s like raising a banner for the unarguably best conference in the country. It’d be like MLS’s Supporters’ Shield. Also, the arguments about whether the conference championship would be more important than the tournament would be a ton of fun.
The bottom three teams will be relegated to the second division. Six teams will be relegated from the second division. Twelve teams will be relegated from the third division, and 24 from the fourth. Obviously, the same number of teams relegated will be replaced from the highest teams in the division lower.
One of the best parts of the pro/rel pyramid is that it removes the arbitration from tournament seeding. The seeding of the tournament would just be the order of the standings. The top 64 teams would be seeded 1-64. The bubble wouldn’t be mediocre teams that get lucky a few times, it’d be the top few teams in the lower divisions.
Another benefit of the pro/rel system is that it gives schools the ability to embrace their local rivalries. It’d give schools the incentive to play the best teams surrounding them. That means that Arizona wouldn’t have had to schedule the ever-so destined 0-18 Oregon State Beavers, and could schedule someone like Gonzaga instead. And there could be regional tournaments, as well, because it’d be natural for similar schools to enter the same non-conference tournaments.
Additionally, it would make for better basketball in March. The best mid-majors would be in the tournament annually. And the best teams only playing each other would also increase the highest level of play that college basketball can reach. Iron sharpens iron. That makes for better basketball throughout the tournament, but especially in the first two rounds.
I think this would be pretty fun. I’m not advocating for it… but like, still.