Bracketology: March Madness, College Basketball, and the Creation of a National Obsession

Triumph. Mar. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781629378817. $28. SPORTS
ESPN analyst Lunardi and sportswriter Smale provide insight on how teams are selected and seeded into the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. The tournament was initially configured geographically without any regard for seeding and has expanded from 25 teams in 1975 to 68 teams today. College basketball and the NCAA Tournament rose in popularity as ESPN televised games. Fans have embraced bracketology as entertainment, while coaches use it to prepare competitive schedules. Lunardi explains how the 10-member selection committee has moved away from RPI, which focuses on strength of schedule, to a new metric which emphasizes team efficiency and scoring margins. When seeding teams, the committee places no priority on rivalries or coaches playing former teams. Lunardi expresses concerns about the power dynamics in college basketball as conferences have realigned to feature football. In order to promote schools from mid-major conferences, he advocates for increasing the tournament size to 72 teams, while disqualifying teams with losing records within their own conference.
VERDICT This reads as a self-promotional biography for Lunardi. The historical background is limited and there is no detailed comparative analysis highlighting differences between teams that make the tournament versus those that don’t. Not recommended.
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