Liberty absolutely belongs in the NCAA tournament field despite its 15-20 overall record. The Flames made a stunning run through the Big South tournament to become the second 20-loss team to ever earn an NCAA tournament bid.
Liberty's improbable success is what March Madness is all about.
The Flames started the season with an 0-8 record and struggled to string together wins all season. However, Liberty managed to pull it together to go on a five-game winning streak and clinch an automatic NCAA tournament bid.
Sure, Liberty may have bounced an SEC or ACC team off the bubble, but that's the joy of March Madness.
First reaction is no way, it devalues the regular season. What sort of madness is this, where a 15-20 team such as Liberty can get into the NCAA tournament? But really, that is the beauty of postseason basketball.
Get hot at the right time, win your postseason tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament, one reason it is called March Madness.
For most of the country, we now get to find out Liberty's nickname (Flames), coach (Dale Laney), last tournament appearance (2004) and other assorted items.
Yes, the Flames are still burning … at least until the tournament opener. They're 0-2, having lost in 1994 and 2004.
It doesn't matter so long as you understand that the NCAA tournament is a TV show and not a "playoff." The 68 teams in the tournament are not the 68 best teams in the country. There are teams left out every year from major conferences that feasibly could make the Final Four.
Letting in the champions from "Little Guy" Leagues is part of the NCAA's charm. It harkens to Jim Carrey's long-shot line from "Dumb and Dumber,'' where he takes the million-to-one odds of getting a date as "So you're saying there's a chance!" Leave Liberty alone, the Flames will flame out soon enough.
If you love March Madness, the answer is simple. Of course, a team with a losing record should be eligible to play in the NCAA tournament if it wins its conference tournament.
Liberty's Big South win encapsulates what makes everyone shake their heads and smile this time of year. Despite a 15-20 overall record and 6-10 record in conference play, they are in the tournament because this is how the rules are set up.
It's maddening to a team like Gardner-Webb (21-12, 11-5) or Charleston Southern (19-12, 12-4). But this is why this time of year is so thrilling. Who would want it any other way?