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A More Perfect Tournament: Matthew Yglesias

Of course March Madness is great. "The best spectacle in sport." "Three weeks without equal." Blah blah blah. Not content to leave well enough alone, we want to know if it can be better. We're in search of a more perfect tournament. So, we asked a few friends of the magazine if they had any ideas for improving the NCAAs. Here's what Matthew Yglesias, blogger and associate editor for The Atlantic, thinks we should do.

Whenever I debate the "merits" of college basketball with a fan, it becomes clear that I'm missing the point. I want to see quality basketball played by quality basketball players. For that, the NCAA tournament is too far off to even bother trying to improve. But what the fans like is the "madness"--so many teams! so many games! anything can happen! What's needed, clearly, is more madness and expansion to a 128 team pool. Yes, it will further diminish the talent pool, but that's the point. To prevent things from taking too long, the new, supercharged first round will consist of 25 minute games, which heightens the odds of the much-vaunted upsets. And, yes, that means that simple bad luck could wind up with a good (by college basketball standards) team getting knocked off by radically inferior competition, but that's what makes it so exciting.

To further spice things up, not all of the 64 additional teams should be actual college basketball teams. Why not give the previous season's WNBA champions a shot at the big dance? And how about the two high school all-star teams put together for the McDonald's All-American Game. And how about a foreign element? FIBA Europe organizes an Under-20 tournament for European national teams, let's bring some of those on board. Yes, it wouldn't make much sense, but it's the madness that makes it work. 

--Matthew Yglesias

John Gasaway: Reward mid-major conference teams already.
Will Blythe: Nationalize the office pool!