NBA version of March Madness

What if the NBA had its own single-elimination tournament?

Updated: March 21, 2014, 12:06 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

SpursAP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisCould Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and the Spurs win an NBA single-elimination tournament?

The NCAA tournament, which begins in earnest today with the start of what is now officially called the "second round," is everything the NBA playoffs are not. The thrilling one-and-done format makes every game a Game 7, but at the cost of the tension and drama that can build throughout a closely matched seven-game series like last season's NBA Finals.

The NCAA version is also much less likely to crown the best team champion, for better or worse.

But what if NBA fans didn't have to choose between the two formats? That's a possibility longtime NBA coach George Karl, working as an analyst for ESPN this season, has suggested. After taking part in the Copa del Rey tournament while coaching for Real Madrid in Spain during the 1980s and '90s, Karl has suggested (first in his book, "This Game's the Best," and more recently at this year's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference) a European-style single-elimination tournament midseason to complement the traditional postseason.

So let's make Karl's HoopIdea reality. Here's how an NBA tournament might look.