Monday, March 13, 2006

A New Form of March Madness?


Every year the brackets are announced for the NCAA Tournament, and every year the selections are met with criticism, second guessing, insults, and jabs. This year though, things are going to the crazy next level. Billy Packer and Jim Nantz openly ripped committee chairman Craig Littlefield by throwing around ridiculous statements. Packer (quite possibly the most negative human being on the face of the earth) went so far as to say that he hadn't seen anyone from the Missouri Valley Conference play that year, but that he knew they were inferior to teams from the ACC. He also used horribly flawed logic like, "By putting four MVC teams and four ACC teams in the field, the committee is saying that the two leagues are equal." Um ... no. Considering the MVC got seeds of 7, 11, 12, and 13, and the ACC got seeds of 1, 3, 4, and 7, it is safe to say that no, the committee did not say the two leagues were equal. In fact, for all the "mid major loving" that the committee is being accused of, they really didn't do mid major teams any favors. They might have put them in the tourney, but they put them in positions to fail. Now it is: pull upsets or be accused of blowing your chance. Nice.

The fact is, the committee really did do a poor job with this field. The inclusion of Air Force was a joke. Leaving of Missouri State is inexcusable. And the seedings, my word, the seedings. Cal goes from the bubble to 7. Indiana somehow gets a 6. Tennessee loses four of six and lands a 2 seed. Gonzaga goes 27-3 and falls behind said Tennessee team for a 3. Southern Illinois gets shafted with an 11 seed, which in turn screws over West Virginia, who shouldn't have to play a team that good in the first round. Pacific got a 13 seed despite being arguably the fourth best team in the West (behind UCLA, Gonzaga, and UW), while Montana got a 12. How is that in the realm of possibility? Anyway, this is the place to break it all down. How did the committee do? Who is the bigger villain now, the committee or the CBS jackals who attacked them on the air? Hurry and get your thoughts in, because in three days, no one will care anymore. Once the ball goes up on Thursday morning, thoughts of omissions and seedings and Littlefield-Packer duels will be nothing but a forgotten subplot.

6 comments:

Glenn said...

I'm glad you pointed out the way that Southern Illinois' bad seed also affected West Virginia. Nobody ever looks at that part of the equation. Both teams are being screwed when that happens, because they are both forced to play much tougher teams. Like the 13 seed for Pacific. They were a great uspet possibility and now they have to play Boston College. This isn't fair for Pacific because it greatly reduces their chance at pulling of the upset, and it isn't fair for BC because they have to play a team that should be a 9-11 seed.

Adam Hoff said...

Good example. The seeding is so crucial to avoid unfairness. I mean, BC has to play Pacific and LSU has to take on a dangerous Iona team, both as 4 seeds. Meanwhile, Nevada, as a 5 seed, gets to play Montana, who has no business being any higher than a 14. How did Montana get a 12? The only explanations are either: mistake, dart board, or heavy drinking.

The converse example is Cal-NC State. Both of these teams were brutal until Cal made a little run in the Pac-10 tourney. They should both be fodder for a team like West Virginia or Michigan State, but instead they are playing each other, ensuring that at least one underachieving team moves on. At the very least GW and Cal should be in opposite places.

We could go on and on, but the point is pretty simple: other than 2-3 teams that should/shouldn't be in, the committee did a decent job selecting the teams. Where they really screwed things up was in the seeding. There are at least 10 seeding mistakes that boggle the mind. And unlike teams getting left out, these are the mistakes that shape the tournament and keep rearing their head as things roll along.

sherm80 said...

The thing I noticed about the draw is that everyone seems to be killing some of the higher seeds like Memphis and Tennessee even to the point where Oral Roberts and Winthrop are being hailed as legitimate upset picks. Everyone has also claimed that this is the most wide open tournament in recent memory. That tells me that, since the tournament is so bizarre every year, maybe there won't actually be that many huge upsets this year. Maybe three number one seeds will make the Final Four. You do make a good point that the committee hardly did the mid-majors a favor. It seems like they gave the bigger conferences huge bumps for being hot in the tournament while the smaller schools were killed for faltering in a late game. I mean, Syracuse is a 5 seed after being iffy to make the tourament and then winning virtually every tourney game on some miracle shots? Meanwhile Gonzaga wins their tourney in a similar fashion but gets punished with a 3-seed. And, of course, there's GW. But, hey, I still can't wait for Thursday. Best four days of the year.

Adam Hoff said...

I agree, and that is what it is all about. I think you make an interesting point by saying that all the talk of a "sure to be crazy" tournament could lead to a big letdown if, in fact, things go by the chalk. The reality is though that regardless of seeding, only UConn and Duke stand as true powerhouse teams this year. Maybe Texas. If all three of those teams were knocked out by say, the Sweet 16, it would be anarchy. Literally anybody could win it at that point. I think that is due somewhat to Memphis and Nova being atypical #1 seeds (like UW last year) and teams like UCLA and Tennessee pulling 2 seeds out of nowhere. You just don't have that many bullies this time around, so if they all lose, pretty much anyone that wins it all is a surprise. I think that is part of the reason why so many people are excited. We may not have any more traditional upsets or buzzer beaters than normal, but the lack of duanting powerhouse teams gives the tournament a wide open feel.

Jeff Dritz said...

You left out the injustice done to my alma mater. How does GW go from being the #6 team in the country, lose 1 game in the conference tourney, and end up with an 8 seed, playing UNC-Wilmington, and then possibly Duke, in North Carolina? Wholly absurd.

Adam Hoff said...

Dritz, I am with you. GW got screwed. At least they got a big W tonight in their "road game" against UNC-W. It is always nice when you can get 20 off the bench from a freshman guard. By the way, isn't it weird that two freshman guards named Rice hit big threes in overtime today?