The NCAA tournament is wonderful, but there is a certain monotony that creeps in every March. It's usually the same powerhouses year in and year out -- Kentucky, Duke, UNC -- peppered in with some smaller mid-major upstarts, the usual big state schools, and a couple small teams happy to be there. Every once in a while, a school like Florida Gulf Coast will come in and mix things up, but for the most part, the types of schools remain the same.
We want more. We want some diversity in the types of schools in this tournament every year. We want schools with different personalities, because as much as we want to convince ourselves that Duke students/alumni are that different from UNC students/alumni, they just aren't. Let's mix it up! Here are 12 colleges we'd love to see in March Madness.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Every year we get a healthy dose of Hawaii basketball during the Maui Invitational and then we don't hear from them until the next season. The team has made five NCAA tournaments -- including one last year -- and it was a blast having them. Their jerseys are way too boring for me (where is the rainbow, guys?), but Hawaii should be around more.
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
You want a different type of student body at the NCAA tournament? Let's get MIT there. The smartest young engineers and mathematicians in America going bananas for a couple hours as their school tries to take down Kentucky? Come on, that would be fantastic.
Bob DeChiaraBob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Grambling State has made the NIT once, in 1980. In 2013 they didn't win a game. New coach Shawn Walker has things looking slightly up, but I want Grambling fans at the NCAA tournament. Their football fans are among the most passionate in the country, and if the Grambling-Southern basketball rivalry can become as big a thing as the football rivalry is, college basketball will be in a better place.
Michael Thomas ShroyerMichael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Deep Springs College
Deep Springs is an elite, private two-year college in rural California that has a student body of 26. The students are taught self-governance, the value of physical labor, and rigorous academic discipline.
If they decided to take 12 of those 26 students and form an elite men's college basketball team, it would be the greatest story in the history of the tournament. I want nothing more than for this to happen. Think of the student section! Would they have to leave one kid behind to keep guard over the campus?
Here is the College of the Ozarks main statement on its webpage:
Don't Pay Tuition
Work for an Education
Graduate Without Debt
Value God and Country
Its nickname is "Hard Work U," which I would demand is placed on its basketball team's jerseys, if it, you know, had a DI basketball team. (The Bobcats currently play in DII.)
Army has never made the NCAA tournament. The only time they were invited, back in 1968, head coach Bobby Knight turned down the bid, because he thought the team would get killed by the big boys (Lew Alcindor was in the tournament and would help UCLA cruise to a win) and had a better shot in the NIT. Knight's point guard that year? Mike Krzyzewski.
Scott OlmosScott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Soka University of America
This small liberal arts college in California was founded on the principles of pacifism, human rights, and the creative coexistence of nature and humanity. Its sister school is located in Japan, and if they wanted to field a basketball team of the best of both schools, I'd allow it for the purposes of writing this article. Plus if they ever nailed a huge basket we'd probably get a Gus Johnson "SOKA IT TO ME!" and I think that'd be fun.
I went to Tulane. That's really the only reason for their inclusion on this list. Roll Wave.
Justin FordJustin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
It's time this thing went international.
This lovely Boulder, Colorado liberal arts school was "founded by a Tibetan monk and leans heavily on Buddhist teachings as they devise their educational approach." I'm not sure what system Naropa would play but man do I want to find out.
Rhode Island School of Design
The Rhode Island School of Design, located in Providence and home to some of the most talented young artists in America, has had a long-running joke that they have an athletics program where the hockey team goes by the Nads and the basketball team by the Balls. While club teams do exist, neither of these programs are, well, real.
But they should be. We need the RISD Balls in the NCAA tournament and we need them there immediately.
Culinary Institute of America
The CIA basketball team is the best college basketball team. Not only do they play opponents, CIA matches feature halftime challah-twisting races and feed the opposing team after every game. If there is one thing I must see before I die, it’s a challah-twisting race at halftime of a Sweet 16 game. I do not ask for much.