"Bubble" means "Relying on the Kindness of Strangers"

From Jason Whitlock in this morning's K.C. Star:

Just in Division I college football and basketball, despite two vastly different systems, we manage to produce a handful of seemingly tortured, reparation-worthy victims each year. March Madness, with its playoff format, is supposed to be the sports utopia - unless you're one of a dozen teams sitting on the "bubble" with an impeccable resume.

First, Jason, there is no such thing as a "bubble team" with an impeccable resume. If there were, they wouldn't be a bubble team.

Second, when you leave an undefeated team, or any major conference champion, out of the BCS "championship" game in football, you don't have a true national champion. What you have is a two-conference "champion"--barring the situation we almost had this year in which we could have had Ohio St and Michigan playing for the post-season Big 11 championship.

When you leave a fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, or even ninth place team out of the NCAA basketball tournament, Big Freakin' Deal. You are leaving out losers. If they don't want to be left out, they need to win more games. They have no gripe. They deserve no sympathy. They merit no reparation. Their resume is eminently peccable.

In fact, unlike football, where more teams (6 more would do it) must be included to have a true national champion, you could have a true basketball national champion with fewer teams.

Won't happen. A 64 team field (65 if you include the meaningless play-in game) makes the tournament a national event: all areas of the country are represented; everyone with a pulse makes out a bracket for money or fun or both; and the drama and excitement in the first two rounds is unmatched anywhere else in the world of sports.

And that's all right. The tournament might not be well designed to determine the best team; but, unlike football, whoever the best team is gets a chance to win a national championship on the field of play. As long as everyone who might be the best team is included, we have a legitimate national champion, best team or not.

As for teams like k-state, Texas Tech, Florida State, Alabama, Drexel, Illinois, etc., their absence from the field means nothing. So they don't get their participation trophy. So they cannot win the tournament. The tournament will be fine without them. They have no gripe. Enjoy the NIT. It is what you have earned. And you might even have a chance to win.

But you are not a victim. You are simply a Blance DuBois team--i.e., one that has to rely on the kindness of strangers in, of all places, Indianapolis.