I’m sitting here watching the NCAA women’s basketball tournament game between 8th-seeded Middle Tennessee State and 9th-seeded Michigan State. The game is taking place in East Lansing. Basically, MTSU’s reward for earning a higher seed than their opponent is to have to play a full-fledged road game. I know that, in the men’s tourney, some teams get to play very close to home (Duke and North Carolina are both playing in Greensboro, North Carolina), but they don’t get to play on their home courts … and they’re highly-seeded teams! If both MSU and the Duke women win today, Duke — the #1 seed in the region — will have to play a road game at the 9th-seeded team.
Duke aren’t alone here. If 2nd-seeded Texas A&M and 7th-seeded Notre Dame advance, the game is on Notre Dame’s home floor. Stanford, the #2 seed in their region, will play a road game at 10th-seeded San Diego State. Auburn, another #2 seed, are playing their 2nd-round game at 7th-seeded Rutgers.
And that is wrong.
I take women’s basketball seriously. It’s a great sport played by great athletes who play for great teams with great coaches. That being said, if the NCAA really, really wants folks to take the women’s game as seriously as they do the men’s, they need to play games on neutral sites, and they definitely need to stop punishing highly-seeded teams by making them play road games. Maybe the NCAA could use some of the gazillion dollars of BCS money — you know, the reason that we don’t have a real Division I – Bowl Subdivision championship — to rent out a couple of gyms to give the women the same privilege of neutral-site games that they give the men.