Monday, March 16, 2009

Bernanke on TV, and a dark thought about college hoop

In case you missed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on 60 minutes last night, go watch it here. This is a rare interview with the Fed Chairman, and a welcome sign that he intends to make the Fed more transparent. Also, you will learn that as a youngster, Bernanke worked at famous tourist trap South of the Border. I can see a new billboard rising on I-95 "Pedro Says Add Liquidity with a margarita at South of the Border".

With the college hoop conference tourneys just finishing, I had the kind of dark thought I am prone to. I am not, by the way, saying this has ever happened.....BUT, it seems to me that there is an incentive in the system for a top seed to lose to a "bubble" team. Why? Well, the NCAA doles out the money for March Madness at a fixed rate for each game played in the big dance. That money is then put in a pool for each conference, and divided equally among the teams in the conference.

So, say you are a top seed in the conference tourney, and you know for sure you are going to the Big Show. If you lose in the semi-finals to the Cinderella team from your conference, it could mean that your conference now gets another bid. That means at least and extra $250K for your conference, part of which is yours. And you get to rest up for the NCAA's, which is what you care about anyway.

Again, let me re-iterate that I have no evidence this happens, and I imagine that almost every athlete in the world takes the floor with the intent of winning any game. You don't make it to that level without being extremely competitive. But, it sure seems like there is an incentive for collusion in there.

1 comment:

Budd Bailey said...

I flew your theory past Bob DiCesare, "The Dean" of college sports writers in Buffalo. He did wonder if big conference teams do have an incentive not to try to hard in the conference tournament, since their bid is virtually set. The exception might be to get a number one seed.

Meanwhile, Siena might have had a financial reason to tank the MAAC championship game to Niagara, in order to get another MAAC team in the tournament and get an extra share of the proceeds. But mid-major conferences can never, ever be sure of getting more than one team into the Big Dance. So you'd better not chance it.