The most exciting time in college basketball is here as the regular season is winding. The elite teams are fighting to win their conferences while the mid-tier teams are trying to shore up their resumes for the NCAA Tournament. Conference tournaments have not started yet, but ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale already has something to say to the Selection Committee, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.
He believes that teams with conference records below .500 do not deserve to make the NCAA Tournament.
In recent years, teams from major conferences with conference records around .500 would enter the NCAA tournament in favor of the top teams from smaller conferences. In 2017, Vanderbilt was given a nine seed despite losing 16 games, while 28-7 Illinois State was forced to play in the NIT.
Monmouth also missed the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and 2017, despite going 55-15 during that time span. The committee’s favoritism for teams in major conferences has made it almost impossible for teams from small schools to get into the field as an at-large. Teams like Belmont, Murray State and Wofford could all miss the NCAA Tournament if they do not win their conference tournaments.
Despite being a combined 44-4 in conference play this season, Belmont, Murray State and Wofford will have a harder time of making the NCAA Tournament than Oklahoma as an at-large. Teams from major conferences can get away with a poor conference record, because they have multiple opportunities to knock off ranked opponents. Mid-major conferences do not normally have ranked teams, making it almost impossible for them to pick up key victories down the stretch.
Vitale supports the smaller schools because he believes that teams should be rewarded for winning consistently. The elite teams in mid-major conferences have fewer than 10 losses on their resume, but they are seen as inferior to major program schools with over a dozen losses. The addition of more teams from smaller conferences would be a message to schools across the country that the selection committee values winning over everything else.