On CBS’ selection show, analyst Billy Packer (or pACCker to some detractors) focused on the fact that there were only four ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament, repeatedly asking the Chairman of the Committee about that. The Chairman replied that the selection committee does not look at conferences, but on the teams individually on their merits when choosing at large teams.
For those who don’t follow college basketball during the regular season, the NCAA Tournament is made up of 31 teams who receive their conference’s automatic bid by winning either the regular season title or the conference tournament. Each conference decides for itself which to honor. Then at the end of the conference tournaments, the NCAA Selection Committee selects who they consider the best 34 other teams to round out the field.
In my opinion, and I’m biting my lip as I write this, Billy Packer is right in this case. Conference strength should be a factor. A loaded conference can have a team or teams hovering around .500 in conference play who are better than teams in weak conferences with gaudy records. However, it is what it is, as football coaches like to say. Here are my four snubs and shockers, four teams that are more deserving of being in the field than four shockers who did make the field of 64.
Snub #1. Virginia Tech. At 19-12 with a 10-7 conference record in the ACC, an RPI of 53, the 36th most difficult schedule and a close loss to mighty North Carolina in the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament, this team should be in the field. It has nothing with the shooting or any politics. this team can play and were snubbed by the Committee. Take your pick of which Pac-10 team, Arizona or Oregon that VTU should have replaced.
Snub #2. Dayton. With a 21-10 record, an RPI of 32 ansd a strength of schedule of 27, the only reason I can think of the Flyers might have been snubbed is their 6-6 record in the last 12 games. This team won at Louisville and defeated Pittsburgh at home. Dayton is rated higher in every category than St. Josephs.
Snub #3. Illinois State. 23-9, a 15-6 conference record and an RPI of 33 are good selling points for ISU.I’m not sure if three losses to Drake help or hurt their cause. A strength of schedule rated 69 is the most likely reason Illinois State is not in the field.
Snub #4. Ohio State. At 19-13 with a 10-9 record in the Big 10, the Buckeyes don’t have an airtight case for making mthe NCAA Tournament, but Villanova won just one more game and Oregon won two less, both with worse RPI’s and SOS’s. Having to replace all but one player out of all who played much last season is a tough chore. Ohio State had the 16th toughest schedule in the nation.
Shocker #1. St. Josephs. Yeah, St Joe’s made the Atlantic 10 tournament final before losing to Temple, but an RPI of 42 with the 55th SOS and a 21-12 record are hardly ringing endorsements. Dayton in the same conference had better RPI and SOS marks and 2 fewer losses.
Shocker #2. Arizona. 18-14 and an 8-10 conference record don’t offset the RPI of 39 even though the Wildcats had the nation’s 2nd toughest schedule. Kevin O’Neill coaches a boring style of play and his brusque style doesn’t go over well with players. Lute Olson will be back next season.
Shocker #3. Oregon with a record of 18-13 and a 9-9 conference mark is not much above Arizona due to an RPI of 58. A #33 strength of schedule does not make the Ducks deserving of a bid in my book. All of the four snubs above are rated higher in RPI.
Shocker #4. Villanova. Another team with a mediocre record of 20-12 and a .500 conference record in the Big East. However, the biggest mark against ‘Nova is the mediocre RPI of 51 with the 45th strongest schedule. Ohio state’s record was only one game worse against a much tougher schedule, 16th toughest as opposed to Villanova’s 45th toughest.