Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Weasels of the Week: NCAA Basketball Selection Committee

This one is literally a slam dunk.

Basketball fans have complained and argued for years how small, "mid-major" colleges always get the shaft when it comes to the NCAA basketball tournaments. Smaller leagues are only allowed at least one bid, that going to the league champion. Why is this? Because the NCAA and its media partners (CBS, Turner Sports) see money and ratings with only teams from the power 5 conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12) and the Big East, which has a television deal with Fox Sports 1 (FS1). The more teams from these leagues in the tournament fattens the coffers of the league & college suits.

In the home district, the America East Conference, where UAlbany plays, and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), home to Siena, are considered mid-majors, and the conference champions, in this case Vermont & Iona on the men's side, for example, get the only bids. The UAlbany women won the America East title for the 6th consecutive year. With that kind of streak, you'd think the selection committee would finally get their brains out of their collective tuchis and give the Lady Great Danes some actual respect.

Nope. UAlbany will go one and done. Against the #1 team on the planet, Connecticut. Thanks for coming.

Part of the reason the men's tournament is so bloated (68 teams now, maybe more a few years down the road, knowing these clowns) is because the power 5 conferences will have as many as 3, 4, or 5 entries in the field, for reasons denoted above. Take the ACC, for example. Duke, despite having a poster child for the disciplinary challenged in Grayson Allen, will be there every year, largely because of reputation. Ditto for North Carolina, which gets one of the 4 regional #1 seeds despite not winning their league title. Syracuse doesn't get in, getting a bid in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) instead, due to a poor non-conference record. UAlbany's men's team, the runners-up to Vermont, are playing in something called the College Insiders tournament, or some such. That's a more recent invention in order to alleviate the complaints from mid-majors that don't make even the NIT.

If we limit the field to conference champions only, maybe things are different. Then again, maybe not, but we're going to have this every year until someone finally smacks some reality into the collective heads of the committees.

Back to Albany's women. Joanna Bernabe-McNamee picked up right where her predecessor, Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, left off, running the string of conference titles/NCAA bids to six in a row. Despite this, the selection committee decided that UAlbany would be treated like a tomato can against UConn, winners of 107 consecutive games. Albany doesn't deserve that. The Lady Danes themselves assumed, based on preliminary indications, that they'd be a #14 or #15. So who did Albany piss off to have their tickets punched to UConn?

No one, really. The committee members need to lose the blinders and show mid-majors like Albany some respect.

On the men's side, Illinois State was snubbed, despite the fact that they'd played Missouri Valley champ Wichita State three times, going 1-2. They hadn't been able to schedule games against the power 5 teams until coach Dan Mullen went on Twitter, and was able to land a game for next season against Mississippi (SEC). Part of the reason the power 5 have ignored Illinois State is because they aren't a tomato can team. The suits in those conferences are afraid a loss to ISU would diminish their chances of landing a primo spot in the tournament. That's what the lures of money & television will do. Those suits and the selection committees are so snowblind to reality, it makes everyone around them look bad.

The selection committees get the Weasel ears this week because of their ignorance, which in this case is not bliss. Just shame.

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