When Thursday rolls around, college basketball fans won't worry too much about the travesties that took place on Selection Sunday.
They'll be bellied up to bars all over the country, playing hooky from work, and comparing office pool picks in their NCAA tournament contest. Gambling on such things is usually frowned upon, of course, but everyone and their mother (and grandmothers!) fills out a bracket.
My dad pulled off a contest win a few years back and still finds time to crow about it to me and my co-workers, the ones who are supposed to know way more than he does about the field of 68.
But the folks on tournament selection committee, they're the true geniuses.
And if you believe that, you're part of the problem.
Coming up with the field is no easy task, and the committee gets it right more often than not. I don't envy the job at hand, for sure.
And at the same time I'm amazed at guys like ESPN's Joe Lunardi, or Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, or Patrick Stevens, formerly of syracuse.com, who are called something silly like "bracketologists" and then all but nail the entire field before CBS unveils the picks.
(And not only the picks, but most of the seeds!)
But let's get serious — can you explain the logic behind some of these so-called "bubble" teams joining the dance? Or how a few of the best mid-majors in the nation got snubbed so hard they'd be better off declining the NIT on principle?
I'm looking at you, Monmouth. You too, San Diego State.
So the committee (some of its members, anyway) has gone on record with its feelings that the mid-majors need to bolster their non-conference schedules in order to stand a better chance of earning one of the 36 at-large bids out there.
Understood, and agreed.
So what did Monmouth do? The Hawks got Notre Dame, UCLA, USC (twice, actually), and Georgetown on their docket. Then they beat Notre Dame, UCLA, and Georgetown, and split with USC. They also won 13 games on the road.
Yes, they lost to Army, not a great defeat in the eyes of any NCAA tourney fan. But Monmouth's resume — an 8-3 record against non-conference D-I teams, an RPI of 55 — is enough for me to be included in the field of 68.
Same goes for San Diego State, which beat Cal (RPI-16) early in the season and played top-tier opponents such as Kansas, Utah, and West Virginia.
The Orange finished 10th in the ACC — 10th out of 15 teams, remember — and went 19-13. That includes three losses to Pitt (three!) and a loss to lowly St. John's.
Their record over the last six games? That would be 1-5.
Now, Syracuse lost only once to a team with an RPI lower than 200, while Monmouth did so three times. And San Diego State fell to San Diego (RPI-302). Yuck.
But that's the difference between a mid-major and a power conference team. Mid-majors are going to drop a few games like that, particularly ones that bulk up on better opponents in an attempt to appease the NCAA tournament committee.