The planet knew this was coming -- it was foretold to us many eras ago in scroll, linking the epiphany of man to the secrets of the universe! -- but it finally became official yesterday: The Northeast Conference is getting an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament starting in 2013. How does the NEC feel about all of this? Well, it's apparently only one-exclamation-point-worthy:
I'm a little disappointed in that tweet. Doesn't the NEC know that when using social media all expressions of mild interest, excitement, anger, depression, or other exhibition of human emotion must be accompanied by, at a minimum, three exclamation points? For example: "I ate a turkey sandwich for lunch!!!!" See? That's how you social, you guys.
The NEC's automatic bid to May's throwdown is obviously going to create some issues next season and going forward. As structured currently, the NCAA isn't moving from its 16-team field; with, now, eight conferences getting automatic qualifiers to the bracket -- America East, Big East, THUNDERDOME!, ECAC, Ivy, MAAC, NEC, and Patriot -- that means that there's only eight at-large spots open to qualifying teams. With the ACC expected to put in its full four-school membership into the field in 2013 and Johns Hopkins a decided candidate to take a spot, that leaves only three -- three! -- spots for some combination of the Ivy, Big East, THUNDERDOME!, ECAC, and/or Patriot League to put an additional team or teams in the Championship.
That's . . . well, I wouldn't want to be a team that doesn't win its conference tournament. Assuming that the only reasonable candidates for at-large selection from these delineated conferences are league runner-ups, that means that there will likely be five teams for three openings come early May. I wish you Godspeed in trying to make that kind of decision in the cold reality of sober decisionmaking.
Of course, all of this gets even murkier when the ACC eventually gets its automatic invitation in a few years. Rather than beat that to a pulp right now, I'll leave you with this from Q:
What do you guys think about this? Do you like the fact that the NEC is getting a bid despite being a relatively weak conference? Are you one of those knuckleheads that thinks that the NCAA Tournament should be filled on an exclusively at-large basis? Who's grabbing the NEC's bid this year? Where does the NCAA go from here? Make the comments shine, pals and gal pals.