Changes are afoot for two major events in college sports: the NCAA men's basketball tournament and the Bowl Championship Series.
In an effort to reduce travel and expenses and also fill arenas in the first and second rounds of the tournament, the NCAA Thursday said it will assign the top four seeds in each region to subregional sites closer to home. The aim is to eliminate scenarios such as the one in March, when Georgetown, Maryland, George Mason and Hampton played the first round in Boise, Idaho.
Meanwhile, the BCS announced that it had reshaped its system for determining teams for college football's national title game, which will be played in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3 The significant wrinkle is that a new quality-win component in the mathematical formula will award bonus points for beating a team ranked in the Top 15.
In its tweaking of the brackets, the NCAA decided that once teams advance to the regional round, they could be shifted to another site. In previous years, teams assigned to a particular region played their opening games at one of two sites there, then advanced to the regional in that same region.
"We also believe this change will minimize the need for teams to be away from their campuses for long periods of time," said Mike Tranghese, chairman of the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee.
Tranghese also hopes to see more fans in the seats, because family, friends and alumni should have easier access to the opening-round games, many of which have been played in arenas dotted with empty seats.
"This adjustment would have significantly enhanced attendance at those sites, which would have created a better atmosphere in those arenas," he said.
Tranghese said, however, that some teams will still play well outside their markets. "Because we want to balance the strengths of the four regions and because of the geography of where our schools are located, the committee will continue to have to move some teams out of their region," he said. The committee also will have the ability to place a fourth-seeded team from a particular conference in the same region as the highest-seeded team in that conference.
Had the BCS changes been in place last season, Miami -- not Florida State -- would have faced Oklahoma in college football's championship game. The Hurricanes would have finished No. 2 thanks to bonus points awarded for wins over the Seminoles and Virginia Tech. Oklahoma beat Florida State in the Orange Bowl and Miami topped Florida in the Sugar Bowl to end up No. 2 in the rankings.
But BCS coordinator John Swofford of the Atlantic Coast Conference said the adjustments would have been made even if Florida State had won the championship.
"The issues would still have been there, I just don't think they would have been quite as high on the radar screen publicly as they were before the game," Swofford said. "The quality-win component encourages a team to play a stronger schedule and gives a significant reward for wins over highly ranked opponents."
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
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