Monday, March 12, 2018

Another Year of Madness

It's March Madness time again! Last year I wrote about how mid-major schools are overlooked by the selection committee, and that trend continued this year, with a team ranked in the top 25 (St. Mary's) being ignored in favour of several crap power conference teams. This ESPN article explains why the new quadrant system makes a mid-major pick even less likely and is worth reading to get an understanding of how the selection committee thinks. And again, that is the true madness on display.

Simply put, the at-large bids should be for the best 36 teams right now. Arizona State, Oklahoma, and Syracuse are not among those, but have garnered spots at the expense of schools that finished higher in both the regular season and conference tournaments, such as USC and Louisville. All three were 8-10 in conference play, which should immediately eliminate them from consideration. But because they won some big games back in November and December, the committee thinks they deserve to dance. At least Syracuse and Arizona State have to play in the First Four, so one will be out immediately. But is that a game anyone really wants to see other than their fans?

USC finished second in the Pac-12 and went to the tournament final, but will be playing in the NIT as will Louisville (against players' wishes), St. Mary's, and Notre Dame, all better teams than those three listed above. Evidently, neither the regular season nor the postseason matters for an at-large bid. What matters is your early non-conference schedule, played when teams are still finding their way. No term more annoyingly represents this paradigm than "body of work". It used to be called "win-loss record". Now however, those wins and losses are measured differently - 18 games in your conference means far less than 2 non-conference meetings. It's idiotic.

If you are a serious college basketball fan (i.e. you watch mid-major hoops), you know that the smaller teams provide the best entertainment in the first weekend of the tournament. It is upsets and near-upsets that fans want to see. It's too bad the selection committee thinks otherwise and fans will suffer for their ignorance.



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