That the game would ultimately arrive at the finish line -- the NCAA Bubble Tournament in Indianapolis -- was never truly in doubt. The only question was how many hoops would the game have to jump through -- and at what cost.
Now, the NCAA Tournament Bubble Selection Committee will take over and make judgments on the vastly different résumés put before it. Of course, we will all blather that this is the most difficult task in tournament history. Everyone will talk about eye tests and metrics. We will discuss our "Quads" more than The Rock does.
All of our arguments will be meaningless.
Selection will be the same as always -- three teams for one spot. Seeding will be as always, subject to the makeup of the committee. Some committees do it better than others. And, lastly, this will be exactly the same: The NCAA tournament, whether in a bubble or eight different sites, is idiot-proof. It can be impacted by bad decisions, but it will never be diminished by them.
The NCAA tournament is as fair as any championship event can be. Every single team has a chance to compete against its peers, teams it has chosen to be with in a league, to gain access to the tournament through winning the league's automatic bid. And, for the best teams after the automatic bids are determined, your team can gain entry by establishing your team among that group. This year, there is an additional spot in the at-large pool because the Ivy League opted out.
Football has a cutoff point of No. 5 to get into the title tourney. Basketball has two doors of entry into the title tourney: the automatic bid door and the at-large door. That is beyond fair.
The problem lies in the perception that the "little guy" doesn't get as many opportunities for high-value wins, especially at the end of the season. That perception is true. The playing field is not level -- and with 350-plus teams, how could it be? The most galling part of the year for the "little guy" is this week -- Champ Week -- a time when the bottom drops out for most "little guys," while the Power 5 teams all gather together to allow each other a bunch of high-value, neutral-court opportunities to separate from the unwashed masses after somewhat mediocre regular-season results.
The Bilas Index was born out of an idea for the selection committee and the selection and seeding process, and to bring more value and importance to the regular season. It is a great exercise to rank the teams from 1 to 68 during the regular season and to use such an index as your "at-large" pool. I believe Selection Sunday should be at the end of the regular season, not at the end of Champ Week.
Here is The Bilas Plan, which includes use of The Bilas Index:
This year, on Sunday, March 7, the selection committee meets and puts out its "At-Large Seed List." The committee ranks eligible teams from 1 to 68. That is the final, at-large pool, in order, based upon the regular season. Then, the conference tournaments are for the determination of the automatic bids only. Duke cannot pad its résumé with a run in the ACC tournament. Michigan State cannot put another couple of scoops on its sundae.
All either can do is win the automatic bid. That's it. The regular-season hay is in the barn. Voila! The regular season has its rightful importance, and the "little guy" has a better chance. Plus, the fan gets two Sundays of enjoyment: the 68 team "At-Large Seed List" and then the full bracket one Sunday later. In between, the bottom teams of the "At-Large Seed List" are knocked off, one at a time, as automatic bids are won. You're welcome, America.
Now, here is my "At-Large Seed List" based upon the regular season. It is also known as The Bilas Index. You're welcome again, America.