NCAA Tournament is all about Smiles and Cries

The NCAA selection Sunday is basically second-Christmas for any college hoops junky.  Coaches, players, fans and boosters of bubble teams all wait on the edge of their seat in hopes of getting a nod from the basketball gods like a little kid waits in line for Santa at Macy’s.

This year was no different for schools like Temple, Colorado State, UCLA, Indiana, Mississippi, Davidson, Texas and Miami (FL)  to name a few that were floating on the bubble.

The selection committee made their statement clear this year, “WE LOVE BIG NAME SCHOOLS”.

Power ConferencesThat’s the only possible explanation for Texas and UCLA making the tourney in 2015.  Theirrational fan in me on this “Overreaction Monday” wants to throw basketballs at my laptop every time I see UCLA and Texas on a bracket.  NOT that I have anything specifically against either of those fine establishments, I live in LA and definitely fly UCLA colors higher than say….USC.  And Austin Texas seems to be the greatest city in the world that no one knows about, with the greatest BBQ in the country.  Who doesn’t love BBQ??

Here’s the committee’s ranking of 1-68, every school from No. 47 on won its conference tournament, so Dayton was the very last team in. And seemingly because yesterday was “Say the opposite of what you really mean day” in the NCAA, UCLA and Texas were the last two to avoid the play-in games.

CALGfooUsAAB5HB.png_largeCRYING:

The last two OUT according to the committee were Temple and CSU, as Texas and UCLA (somehow) were given access through the red velvet ropes and into the big dance.

CSU Rams:  CSU (27-6, most single season wins in SCHOOL HISTORY, 13-5 in Mountain West) had the highest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI of 29) for a team snubbed by the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Committee since the tournament expanded in 2011 to 68 teams.

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Rams Key Victories:

CSU beat three teams that made the tournament this season: SDSU (8-seed), New Mexico State (15-seed) and Boise State (11-seed play-in game in the East).  In addition to being on the cusp of breaking into the top 25 all season long, the Rams were No. 68 overall at the end of the season in ratings compiled through statistical analysis by ESPN’s affiliate Ken Pomeroy and No. 57 overall in a similar analysis by USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin.    Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 11.41.23 AM

Temple:  The Owls (23-10 Overall, 13-5 in American Conference)

Key victories:  Kansas (2-seed), Cincinnati (8-seed) and Uconn twice (NIT tourney, but a solid team)

The Owls BEAT Kansas AND Cincinnati!!!  What else do you want!?!?!?!?!  Thirteen conference wins and 2 BIG wins over teams that are in the NCAA tourney.  This is ridiculous.

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Smile and say Cheese for the Photo:

Texas finished the season at 20-13 overall and 8-10 (terrible) in the Pac-12 conference.  Let’s analyze this further, the eye test is tougher with Texas because they are a very big, athletic team that seemed to struggle with consistency and leadership this season.

Longhorns Key Wins:  West Virginia (5-seed), Baylor (3-seed).  I would like to believe that CSU or Temple could have beat either of these two teams in conference play if given the opportunity, but that’s unfortunately really hard to compare or predict.  BUT, when looking at Texas’ other wins in the conference, I go cross-eyed and start to get woozy.  The only other conference teams Texas beat are Texas Tech (13-19 overall, 3-15 Big 12), TCU (18-15 Overall, 4-14 Big 12) and Kansas State (15-17 Overall, 8-12 Big 12), all twice.  Six of Texas’ eight conference wins were against those three teams (none of which are in the NCAA tournament)!!!

Are you really saying that those 6 wins carry more weight than CSU’s 13 conference wins OR Temple’s 13 conference wins!?!?  Even IF you count the WVU and Baylor wins as 2 wins each (for crazy math reasons), that’s still only a 10-win conference season for Texas!!!  If Texas was sitting at 22-11 overall with 10 conference wins I’d be a lot more understanding of an at-large tournament bid.

UCLA:

Committee chairman Scott Barnes explaining UCLA being selected:

“We felt they were gaining steam,” Barnes said. “They did have a good strength of schedule. They were playing better against tough competition. An example is the last game against Arizona [a 70-64 loss in the Pac-12 semifinals]. I think the eye test was also a plus in putting them in the field.”

Just to clarify those statements:  UCLA (20-13 overall, 11-7 in Pac-12) LOST the game Barnes is referring to.  Five of UCLA’s losses came to teams that DID NOT make the tournament:  Alabama, Colorado, Oregon State, Arizona State and California.  To be fare to UCLA, they did split with Utah (5-seed) this season in Pac-12 play, winning at home in January.

The Bruins’ only real win of ANY significance this season was that Utah win, but the “eye test” that Barnes spoke about is a joke. I don’t know who’s eyes he was looking through (Bill Walton?) because when I watched UCLA this season, they were completely out-matched by any team with a decent guard who could attack the basket or a decent big man who could score in the paint.

The obvious greatest benefit from being in a Power Five conference is that you build up credit for Conference Wins AND for “quality losses” which is the dumbest term in ALL OF SPORTS.  A “Quality Loss” makes about as much sense as a screen-door on a submarine.

A “Quality Loss” is STILL a loss, why is the committee rewarding teams for losing when you have a team with 27 wins?  I’m sorry, but no one will EVER be able to convince me or make sense out of that argument.

But as my therapist always says, we should move on…….It’s tourney time, so the real question is who the hell is going to beat Kentucky!?!?

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