Monday, March 16, 2009

Bubbles Burst But BCS Still Blows More

I suppose that the bubble teams looking for a bit of a blessing from above in order to get them into the NCAA Tournament should have had a sense that it wasn't in the stars considering that selection Sunday was on the ides of March. I mean, look how well it worked out for Julius Caesar. Actually, that may have been the world's first March Madness, with Brutus and Octavius as 1-seeds on one side of the bracket, and Marc Antony and Cassius on the other side. Of course Antony won it all and got to hook up with one of the cheerleaders (Cleopatra).

San Diego State and St. Mary's were probably the two teams that didn't make the Dance that had the best resumes, but they're from California, so they should have known they were gonna get hosed. If they were both from North Carolina, they'd both be in. But while we do get screwed on respect and national coverage out here in California, we also get the benefit of getting to watch all the games we want. That Syracuse-UConn game last week ended at 1:30 A.M. in New York City on a Thursday. How many people east of the Rockies probably saw the end? I did. Then I watched a 30 Rock and went to bed early. Then I woke up the next morning and put shorts on because it wasn't snowing. So maybe living in California is not so bad.

After all, there were not many places in the U.S. this weekend where Phil Mickelson could have suffered from heat exhaustion after a round of March golf. Side note: Phil, maybe mix in a salad every now and then.

College basketball is plagued by some of the same B.S. that made it so that the NCAA does not actually have a champion in football (Florida is the "BCS Champion" while Kansas is the "NCAA Champion" like in every other sport in all three divisions but Division I football). Why did St. Mary's or SDSU not get in? Because traditional power Arizona has an historical Tourney-appearance streak going. Actually speaking of streaks, did you know that U of A has lost 5 of 6 down the stretch?

The selection committee likes to say that they don't look at conferences, they reward teams for tough schedules, and they look at the whole season, not the last few weeks. In order to get games against good teams, small schools are forced to go on the road (like Gonzaga does or Fresno State in football). So St. Mary's went on the road a lot this year. They won 13 road games on the way to a 26-6 season (without their Olympic team leading, All-American, Player-of-the-Year candidate point guard for much of the year). Their RPI was 48 and they're 33rd in the final regular season AP rankings released the day after the selections. Arizona was 19-13 with an RPI of 65 and was not among the top 40 in the new AP rankings. 13 losses? If St. Mary's played Arizona right now at Arizona, SMC would likely be favored by 5 or more. Isn't the job of the selection committee to pick the next best 34 teams? And if they don't look at conferences, why is it that the "Power Conferences" happened to get 30 of those 34 spots, while all the teams complaining that they were left out in the cold unfairly are in "non-Power Conferences?"

Clearly the answer is for the selection committee to not be given information as to what the schools or conferences are (since they allegedly don't look at it anyway). Give them the entire resume with no names. Don't tip it off that School A was in the Pac-10 by revealing their opponents...just give the scores and the RPI of the opponent. Let the numbers decide.

All that said, was St. Mary's or SDSU really going to compete for the National Title? Is the end result going to be tainted because the 30th or 40th best team in the country got left out? Of course not, and that is why the BCS is a joke. Fans and writers will complain about certain teams getting screwed no matter what the system, no matter how many teams qualify for the playoffs. But with basketball we complain and complain and then no one doubts the legitimacy of the Champion. In football, there is no possible way that we will ever accept that there weren't one or two or five schools that should have had a shot at it, year in and year out. They can keep claiming that they have the best regular season in sports (debatable). Because when it comes down to it, they have the worst post-season and isn't that what matters?

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