For years, the NCAA Basketball Tournament has been viewed by many as the best sporting event in the country.
Spread out over three weeks, there is really nothing similar to the way March Madness captures the imagination and participation of fans.
Maybe, bigger is better when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, at least according to ASU head coach Herb Sendek.
On the eve of his team’s Pac-12 Tournament opener against Stanford, Sendek joined Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 620 and shared some interesting possibilities in changing up the college hoops postseason.
“I’ll just throw it out there for fun discussion, but maybe we’ve come to a time and place where instead of the conference tournaments we should just have an open bracket and have the whole nation play in one national tournament,” he said. “I think that would be an interesting way to go about it.”
It’s an interesting notion considering some national pundits have ASU on their list of teams that might be able to worm their way into the NCAA Tourney with a good showing in Las Vegas.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Sun Devils in a group of four teams he terms “the next four out” — meaning he believes ASU is on the bubble entering the Pac-12 Tournament.
One of the reasons Sendek would think about a change in the postseason is because of the potential rigors of a conference tournament.
“The conference tournaments really do put a heck of a challenge on the student athletes because they’re playing sometimes five consecutive games in five days, sometimes less than 24 hours between games,” he said. “That’s the difficult part of it, that’s the problem I would have with it.”
To wit: in 2011, Connecticut played five games in five days to win the Big East Tournament in New York — something many experts felt the Huskies needed to do to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. But, the rigors had little effect on Jim Calhoun’s team, as they went on to win the national championship.
“I’m just throwing it out there for fun and discussion,” Sendek said. “It would take maybe two more rounds and you have a national tournament where everybody’s in and everybody’s playing for a national championship.
“I’m sure there would be good reason to not go along with that, but on the other hand, especially for sports talk radio, it could be a fun topic.”