One of the biggest debates in the world of sports begins immediately after the NCAA field of 64 is announced on Selection Sunday. So, how did the NCAA Tournament Committee do this past Sunday with their decisions?
Personally, I would never want to have a responsibility that could render an undeserving team in or a deserving one out of the greatest tournament in the galaxy. However, I must break down my thoughts on the surprise entries as well as the huge snubs of the selection process.
ESPN Bracketologist, Joe Lunardi, who I would consider the best in the business, had both UCLA and Indiana considered as two of his first four teams out of the tournament. When looking at their resumes, I completely agree with Lunardi — UCLA was 2-8 against the top-50, and their only road win of significance was a victory at Stanford. For those of you that did not know, Stanford did not make the tournament field this year. As for Indiana, they finished 5-9 down the stretch — not the finish to a season that would typically get a program a tourney draw. These statistics make you wonder if the committee was giving favoritism to basketball programs with storied histories from Power Five conferences — after all, UCLA is from the Pac-12, and Indiana is from the Big Ten.
Okay, so I have given you two examples of schools that gained surprise entry into the NCAA Tournament. Now, let us examine the case for the snubs that were left out.
Not a startling surprise, but these two teams are not from Power Five conferences. Colorado State boasted a 27-6 record (27 wins is a school best), and were perfect in non-conference games during the season — additionally, their non-conference schedule did not include “all” cupcakes. Perhaps they should have scheduled slightly tougher games out of conference, yet they did go 14-0. That’s very impressive!! And, an RPI of 29 is impressive as well. Apparently, their 13-5 record in the Mountain West was not enough to draw a bid. So, the Rams will have to settle with being a No. 1 seed in the NIT (National Invitation Tournament). The anger correlated to their snub should fuel a deep run in the NIT.
Let us now enter Murray State — the Racers finished with a 28-5 overall record, including an unbeaten conference mark in the Ohio Valley at 16-0. Earlier in the season, Murray State defeated Belmont 92-77; however, their 88-87 loss to the same Belmont team in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship spelled their fate. Like the Rams, the Racers will be hungry for victories as a No. 3 seed in the NIT.
Really, how did the committee do? In my opinion, they gave some big name schools a free pass, and locked out some of the better non-Power Five teams in the country. What do you think?
*Section Photo credit to David J. Phillip, AP Photo; Featured Photo (above) credit to Peter G. Aiken, USA Today Sports