GRAPHIC BY YING YANG
By EMMA CHANG
The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball Tournament was not nicknamed “March Madness” for no reason.
Every year, the NCAA invites 68 Division I basketball teams to participate in a series of elimination rounds in hopes of competing in the final round for the title of “National Champion.”
Immediately after the tournament bracket was released, controversy sparked concerning every subject possible: players, bets and—funnily enough—teams with unique “Cinderella stories” in which several teams miraculously went from the lowest of the lows to the top and into the final “Sweet 16.”
For example, the Oklahoma Sooners were criticized after various analysts claimed the team’s tournament entry was solely based on star point guard freshman Trae Young’s skills, rather than the team’s resounding two wins out of ten games since February.
Though he may be new to the NCAA, Young is not new to the court. Having played basketball since his sophomore year of high school, Young has demonstrated his abilities by winning numerous awards and titles such as Oklahoma Sophomore of the Year and Big-12 Freshman of the Year, before attending the University of Oklahoma.
Despite NCAA Committee Chair Bruce Rasmussen claiming the Sooner’s two preliminary wins were more than enough qualifications for the tournament, fans knew this was the work of NCAA favoritism.
In comparison to the other teams that were invited to the tournament such as the Rhode Island Rams, the Sooners fall short in more areas than one, including team statistics, talented players and NCAA ranking demonstrating how even a single player’s abilities are futile without an equally skilled team.
To elaborate, the Rams are currently ranked in the top 20 teams in the nation whereas the Sooners barely snagged 49th. Rhode Island also has the longest winning streak in the country as of now and continue to exhibit their talents as they advance in the tournament. As it seems, the Sooners cannot compare to their future opponents.
By integrating bias into the NCAA, officials set themselves up for backlash—not only from players and teams, but also from audiences. Yet, despite all the criticism, poorly-concealed biased decisions continue to be made.
When making such decisions, many officials fail to acknowledge that, regardless of any one player’s abilities, a player is only as good as his team, and without them, he cannot succeed.
Fortunately, a team with only one shining individual cannot last forever. Sooner or later, his skills will reach a point where they will pale in comparison to the more deserving, higher ranked teams that are bursting at the seams with capable players.
All in all, teams should not idly stand by as their talents are defiled by officials trying to create an interesting game.