Even though the NCAA Tournament Committee did a pretty good job this year, there's always room for improvement, or there wouldn't be anything for people like me to write about. The primary complaint I have, and it's been a continuing trend, is the repeated dismissal of mid-major programs, despite success by those teams on the court. In many cases, they've even recorded big wins against quality power teams.
Power Conferences: The seeding of Oklahoma third and Louisville fourth in the East, Georgetown fourth in the South, plus the inclusion of UCLA, LSU and Indiana at all, without even having to participate in a play-in game, are clear examples that mid-majors had a more difficult time getting in and achieving high seedings in this year's tournament. Murray State, which was ranked twenty-second in the AP poll and at one point possessed a twenty-five game winning streak, lost their conference tournament by one point and was left out of the field, probably based on their RPI ranking of sixty-seventh.
Mid-Majors: Only two mid-majors, Gonzaga and Northern Iowa, with five losses between them, managed to make it into the top twenty seeds. Despite a high RPI, VCU was shuffled back to a seventh seed. SMU, an impressive team, managed only to make it in as a six. The trend was pretty clear that the committee felt power conference teams were stronger and had a better chance of success in the tournament. However, by consistently burying the mid-majors back in the field, it's actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. You'd think that recent success by a few of the non-power teams would change this thinking, but it doesn't look like it has.
RPI: The committee historically uses RPI as a justification for some of their decisions, but uses other criteria when the computer ranking system doesn't match with what they decide, particularly when it comes to seeding. Dayton, with an RPI of 32, was reportedly the last team in, because the committee informed us that had UConn upset SMU, they would have been left out of the field. Really? Just look at the RPI rankings and seeds of teams seeded ahead of or even with Dayton, all from power conferences: Iowa (7) - 43, N.C. State (9) - 40, LSU (9) - 54, Purdue (9) - 53, Indiana (10) - 58, UCLA (11) - 49, Ole Miss (11) - 57 and Texas (11) - 42. Colorado State at 28, Temple at 34 and Old Dominion at 45 are all headed to the NIT.
So why the bias? Oh wait, it's pretty obvious, isn't it? Which team is more likely to generate ratings and thus revenue? Is it Indiana or Old Dominion? Is it UCLA or Colorado State? Is it LSU or Temple? I think you probably get my point. What's that old saying? Oh, yeah, "Follow the money".
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Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel",
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