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A Pre-Tournament Public Service Announcement

Even though college basketball is my second favorite sport after hockey, the NCAA tournament is my favorite annual sporting event (the Olympics, of course, are my favorite overall). Still, it is not perfect. There are two big fixes, one aesthetic and one competitive, that I would like to see in the NCAA tournament and in the sport as a whole.

The first is just for me: first round NCAA tournament games would be played in places like Boise and Denver and they would have the rainbow pattern in the semi circle above the free throw line or be played on the Nuggets home court. Now every court looks like this. Yawn. Rather than being able to instantly tell what game you're watching, everything looks the same and it takes longer to realize what game you're watching. It's a small change, but it was part of what made the NCAA tournament special to me.

The second though is far more pressing:

All sports have to deal with the enforcement of penalties. In football a hit on a defenseless receiver will get you a 15 yard penalty, in hockey you can get 2, 5, 10 minutes and/or a game depending on the severity. Soccer is perhaps the most harsh, with one bad tackle earning you a red card and getting knocked out of the game. Basketball, of course, allots a player five fouls before he is excluded from taking part for the rest of the game. The difference between basketball and a lot of other sports is intent: there are quite a few touch fouls where players don't mean to foul a guy (or in some cases even do foul a guy) and 50/50 calls (think block/charge) can have a double swing: a player plants his feet with the intent of getting a foul called on the other guy, but gets one called on himself instead. Another difference is in strategy: no wide receiver in his right mind is going to put his head in the path of a defender's helmet for the purpose of getting 15 more yards, but you better believe every Ohio State opponent is going to try to get Jared Sullinger to commit some fouls.

Because a player only gets 5 in college, one incorrect call on a block/charge uses up 20% of a player's foul allotment. Same with a ticky tack foul. A lot of people have asked for the foul limit to be raised, but I have another, I think better, idea.

Eliminate the foul out rule.

If you watch an Ohio State-Michigan State game, you want to see Jared Sullinger and Draymond Green go head to head. You also want to see the game's best players not have to be removed in the first half for picking up 2 quick ones, and you want them to play as hard as they can, not take possessions off on defense for fear of picking up another foul (plus it cuts down on offense/defense substitutions).

That doesn't mean there wouldn't be a penalty for excessive fouling. I'd propose that after foul #5, the offended team gets a free throw and the ball. In the bonus or double bonus, the offended team would get the free throw and then his bonus free throws, with the added benefit of getting to choose the shooter who takes those free throws. You could also make it so that after 8 (or whatever) it goes to two free throws and the ball. This way if Thomas Robinson picks up 5 fouls he will still have to be careful on defense and won't get to foul with reckless abandon, but he will still be able to impact the game on the offensive end. But if Justin Wesley, who basically only is 5 fouls in human form, gets to 5 fouls HCBS could take him out to not suffer the penalties that come from fouls 6+.

It's obviously not perfect, but it keeps the best players in the game and that's the most important thing.