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Kansas Basketball 50 in 50, No. 25: Answering Some CBBCL Questions

50 in 50 is a feature here at RCT counting down until the Jayhawks kick off the 2011 basketball season on November first. Got an idea for something you'd like to see featured here? tweet @rockchalktalk or @fetch9 or email me at fetch9 at gmail dot com.

If you missed yesterday's post, wherein I laid out a radical redesign of the way college basketball operates (full credit to Andy Glockner and John Infante of the Bylaw Blog), you can and should read that here. Mainly you should read it because I am going to be referencing it in probably the next few posts in this series (on weekdays, anyways).

This weekend I hope to mock up how a season of the CBBCL would go, but today's theme is going to be answering some questions regarding yesterday's post, and trying to iron things out for the big reveal next week.

Question 1: One issue I see is how to handle graduation/players leaving. There is some turnover in soccer from year to year but I think it is more pronounced in basketball.

This seems like the biggest problem to me as well. For teams like Kansas it wouldn't matter much, but most of the mid majors who make NCAA Tournament runs do so with veteran teams. For example, San Diego State was an excellent team last year, and under the CBBCL format undoubtedly would have qualified. The problem is, four starters from that team are gone, and this year's team figures to be much worse.

To be fair, some soccer teams have this problem as well. The Ukranian champion that qualifies for the Champions League could end up having to sell off some of its better players to richer clubs, ironically due to good performances said players put in in the Champions League. The rub here is that the Champions League brings in a lot of revenue for clubs, allowing these smaller clubs to keep at least some of their best players. The obvious difference here is that college basketball teams can't keep players for extra years just because of the extra revenue qualifying for the CBBCL would bring them.

One answer is simply to say tough noogies. Another, floated by the Bylaw Blog (twitter is down right now so I can't link to the individual tweet, but it's there somewhere) is to give Seniors who qualify for the Champions League for their first time ever an extra year of eligibility. This situation would rarely occur (for instance there would still be the ability to leave early for the NBA, so SDSU still wouldn't have Leonard, and a team like Butler would most assuredly have qualified for the CBBCL before so Matt Howard wouldn't get to stick around for another year).

I will say that it would be important to make this rule not just for the teams that got automatic entry into the group stage, but even the tier 4 conference champions who would then have to play the preliminary knockout round.

2. I saw these tweets last night too. Not sure I like using aggregate score of a home-and-home.

This one seems the easiest to solve. The obvious problem is if team A and team B play and team A wins the first game 85-80, they have an obvious incentive to slow the second game down so that even if they lose 70-65 they win on aggregate points. The trailing team could obviously combat this by pushing the pace in the second game but (a) I'm not sure if they could do it enough to make up the difference, assuming the leading team milked the shot clock every possession and (b) that would probably create some hard to watch helter skelter type basketball. (yeah, just strike this whole paragraph. In my defense, adding is hard. The next line is the correct answer).

The obvious solution is that when team A wins the first game 85-80, they start the return trip ahead 5-0.

The next question in your head should be what happens if the second leg ends in a tie?* The answer is obviously not to have an away points rule like they do in soccer, as that would be disastrous, but rather to play overtime in that return leg until there is a winner. This, of course, gives huge incentive to whomever is the home team second (as they could be the home team for the overtime) so to combat that I would suggest playing any overtimes in the first leg as well.

*quick rant, Posnanski style. In soccer, they go by aggregate goals and settle ties by something stupid called the away goals rule. For example, if team A ties at home vs. team B 1-1 and then ties with team B 3-3 on the road, team A would win even though they have an aggregate score of 4-4 because team A scored more goals away from home. In and of itself this isn't a bad thing (the need for away goals can open the game up. Though the counterargument is that if the road team gets an early goal in the first leg, it makes them park the bus and shut the game down even more. But the big problem is if they are tied and have the same number of away goals. If that happens, they go to extra time. In the extra time, the away goal srule still applies, so in essence each away goal in extra time is worth double, which is incredibly stupid.

3. Plus, in the group stage you’d have the stuff where teams might be playing who have no hopes for advancing. You’d have to have some kind of tiebreak to see who advances, like when one team goes 3-0 and the others go 1-2. The tempo-free folks probably won’t like using point margin or total points, and I don’t think efficiency margin is a good idea either.

As far as teams who have no hopes for advancing playing goes, tough luck. We have teams with basically no NCAA tournament hopes playing every year, but they still get to play spoiler. I am sure that if Kansas and George Mason were tied for first in a group with Florida State just behind them, and Kansas had to travel to the fourth place team with no hope of advancing, that fourth place team would try like hell to pull the upset and play spoiler.

As for the tiebreak thing, that definitely would be a problem. Efficiency Margin seems like the fairest bet to me (though I would certainly consider arguments to the contrary), and while I would acknowledge the obvious flaws in total points/point differential (good luck ever winning a tiebreaker, Wisconsin) at some point you just need to pick something and go for it.

However, if a group stage tiebreaker is the biggest problem we can come up with, clearly we're on to something with this whole CBBCL idea.