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THE WEEKLY DISH: WHERE THE COMMITTEE WENT WRONG
March 14, 2011

SCS.com Every year after the brackets are unveiled, it seems like every talking head on television gives us the same lines. They tell us how the selection committee does such a wonderful job selecting the field of 65 and now 68 teams. They tell us what a grueling, unenviable task that the committee has been assigned with. The sad truth is that the selection committee annually does a fairly mediocre job and few in the national sports media say so. This week, the Weekly Dish will say so. Donít get me wrong; Iím as excited as anyone about the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, but the selection committee should be held to account. We do it with our politics and this week, the Dish will do it with our basketball.

Who Should Have Been Out: There are schools from Alabama, Virginia and California that could have made a very good case for being in the tournament. Unfortunately those three schools are out and a less deserving team from each state happens to be in.

Virginia Commonwealth The Rams finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association. Their best non-conference win was UCLA, a good win, but VCU had multiple bad losses. Besides losing to Big East bottom-dweller South Florida in the non-conference, the Rams suffered conference losses to Georgia State, James Madison, Northeastern and Drexel. Georgia State and Northeastern finished a combined 12-24 in conference play and 23-39 overall.

UAB UAB finished as the regular season champion of Conference USA, but went one and done in the C-USA Tournament. That loss came against an East Carolina team that finished 18-15 overall and eighth in Conference USA. The Blazers lone non-conference win against a team in the tournament came against none other than Virginia Commonwealth. UAB also went 0-2 against eventual C-USA Champion Memphis. If C-USA is deserving of a second bid, it should have went to the University of Texas-El Paso. UTEP finished with 25 wins, beat Michigan (a ten seed) and reached the final of the conference tournament. The Miners lost to Memphis by a single point in the Conference USA Championship game. Two weeks earlier, UTEP beat that same Memphis team by 27 points. The same Memphis team who went 2-0 against UAB during the regular season.

USC Prior to the Pac-10 Tournament, just about everyone believed USC was out. One win over a team (California) that had a lower seed in the conference tournament and the Trojans are in the NCAA Tournament. USC had an impressive win early in the year over Texas, but that should not have been enough to offset the bad losses. With a record of 19-14, USC suffered losses to Rider (by 20), Bradley, TCU, Oregon twice and Oregon State. The Trojans finished just 10-8 in a mediocre Pac-10 conference. USC split in the regular season with Arizona and UCLA, the conferenceís top two teams, but lost what was essentially a home game to Arizona in the semifinals of the conference tournament. I found it shameful that a team with six bad losses who won a single game in the conference tournament was found worthy of an at-large spot.

Who Should Have Been In: There appeared to be a bias against the bigger, better conferences when it came to selecting the final at-large spots.

Alabama The Crimson Tide had plenty of bad losses in the non-conference, but after a 5-6 start, Alabama finished the regular season by winning 15 of its final 19 games. Alabama also finished with 12 wins in the SEC and went 5-3 against the SEC East. Apparently winning a regular season championship in Conference USA is good enough, but winning a division title in the SEC is not. I had no problem with Georgia being in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, the Bulldogs were my last team out. Georgia had no bad losses, but did not have the wins that Alabama did. In their two meetings with Georgia this year, the Crimson Tide won both with one coming in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Atlanta. If Georgia is a ten seed, Alabama most definitely deserves a spot somewhere.

Virginia Tech When Derwin Kitchenís last second game-winner was waved off, the Hokies should have been in the tournament. I had Clemson as the last team in, but Clemson was not as deserving as Virginia Tech. Against the top teams in the ACC, the Hokies were far superior to the Tigers. Virginia Tech knocked off Duke, a number one seed, while Clemson lost to Duke. The Hokies were victim to a late three-pointer by North Carolinaís Harrison Barnes losing 64-61 to the Tar Heels. Clemson was twice competitive with UNC, but lost on both occasions. Virginia Tech also went 2-0 against Florida State while Clemson split with the Seminoles. The argument could be made that Clemson finished as the higher seed in the conference, but why does that work for Clemson over Virginia Tech, but not for Alabama over Georgia? Clemson beat the Hokies in the teamsí only meeting late in the regular season, but once again, why does that work for Clemson and against Alabama? Virginia Tech also had a non-conference win over a Penn State team that was somehow deemed a ten seed while Clemsonís best non-conference victory came over Charleston. Iím not arguing against Clemson. Iím arguing for Virginia Tech.

Colorado Colorado appeared to be a team that played its way into the tournament after knocking off Kansas State for a third time during the quarterfinals of the Big XII Tournament. Colorado started 2-3 and did not do all that well against a weak non-conference schedule. But in conference play, the Buffaloes notched a win over Missouri, three wins over Kansas State, and a remarkable come-from-behind victory over then fifth-ranked Texas. Colorado was also twice competitive in losses to Kansas (a one seed) and suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to Texas A&M. The Buffaloes also have a star in Alec Burks who is capable of pulling off a one-man-upset. It would have been fun to watch Burks and the Buffaloes in the NCAA Tournament. It was a pleasure that was stripped from us by the selection committee.

Big Ten Receives Favorable Seeds Seeding the teams I believe is tougher than picking the best 37 at-larges, but still, there were mistakes. The Big Ten schools received much higher seeds than most of the schools in the conference deserved. Ohio State deserved to be the top overall seed and the Dish has been singing the Buckeyesí praises all year, but the rest of the Big Ten received favorable seeds.

Michigan received an eight seed despite beating just Clemson and Oakland in the non-conference. The Wolverines definitely deserved a spot in the tournament, but went 0-6 against the top three teams in the conference. Michiganís victory over Illinois in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament was its first over any of the top five teams in the conference. Both Michigan State and Penn State should have been on the 12 line and perhaps both should have been in play-in games. Michigan State played one of the tougher schedules in the nation, but finished just 19-14. The Spartans also finished just 2-7 against the top five teams in the Big Ten Conference and were handled by Penn State in the semifinals of the conference tournament. Penn State definitely played its way in to the tournament, but were no where near deserving of a ten seed. The Nittany Lions finished just 19-14 and were beat in the non-conference by Virginia Tech (not in the tournament) and by 23 at home to Maryland. Penn State also lost at home to Maine. The Nittany Lions were out prior to the conference tournament so itís hard to see how a 36-33 win over Wisconsin and two victories against lower seeds would jump a team from out of the tournament to a number ten seed.

U.S.A.
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