The mantra was deafening, not from its magnitude but from its consistency. It was Patton’s Third Army through France, Cal Ripken, and the smell of fresh laundry all wrapped into one. We had a week’s worth of it, maybe more, in militaristic cadence, and we knew it would permeate Sunday evening.
“This year more than any other,” it began, “you have no excuse and no platform if you don’t make the NCAA Tournament. The bubble is historically weak, and there’s three extra teams. No excuses.”
And everybody was perfectly happy marching to the beat, until the annual 50/50 decision went the way of the mid major. Then, screams of chaos. Reform. Laughter. Because we live in reality, we knew the shouts would come, loudly and with equal force as the week’s mantra. Three CAA teams. Bah!
Here’s the thing, though. I agree that Colorado should have been in the tournament. My issue? The ire of the talking heads is wholly misplaced.
VCU had every necessary credential it needed for inclusion. I’m not saying better or worse than anybody else, for if there’s one thing I learned this year it’s that the razor thin margin between teams is closer than that. But the Rams were worthy of consideration.
My problem is using VCU as a scapegoat for the exclusion of a major conference school and the breakdown of the committee. Nobody mentioned last night during the whelpathon that Clemson and Florida State, combined, have one top 50 win. (VCU had three.) That top 50 win in Florida State’s and they might be missing their best player.
It never came up that there are five 14-loss major conference teams in the tournament. Think about that, 14-loss teams. Two of those 14-loss teams had worse RPIs than VCU. Or that Georgia had five top 100 victories, three fewer than VCU. Or that RPI mattered, until it didn’t.
The mindset that causes me angst (and my own laughter) is that it seems to be an implausible concept that a major conference team could be overlooked because of the inept credentials of another major conference team. That’s misplaced and misguided.
What we did hear was Digger Phelps lamenting that “I don’t care who they played in nonconference” in reference to Colorado’s sub-300 SOS, as if we should disregard that ink stain. We also heard “who did VCU beat, UCLA and George Mason?” We didn’t hear who Clemson or Florida State beat, mainly because that is a one-team list.
My whole point is this: this year is no different than any other in that there’s gray area and vagary in the NCAA selections. For once, the mid major got the right end of the stick, the good end, the end with the dollars and dance card attached. That doesn’t mean the process is any more broken nor fair than any other year.
Lament is a loser’s strategy, and that’s all I heard last night. The two percenters believed, reveled, enjoyed the moment for what it’s worth. That’s why we have it better.
It’s like a great ocean, not preferring whether mosquitoes or titans drink its water–all get their fill. –The Buddha.