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Well, we've gotten through another "Selection Sunday" and, in a development that surprised absolutely nobody, there are folks who are unhappy with the output.
There are really two classes of those that are mad over March Madness. The first group consists of those fans, coaches, administrators, alumni and straphangers of teams that were, in their minds, mis-seeded (is that a word?).
These malcontents usually have a decent case for their teams to have been pushed up a notch or two. Wisconsin backers believe, by virtue of the Badgers' Big Ten Championship, the team should have been at least a #2, if not a top seed.
Even those that pull for top-seeded teams make the case that the squad should have been put into a different (i.e., easier) bracket.
The mis-seeding (adjective form of this non-word) crowd doesn't get a lot of sympathy. Everyone knows that you have to win six games to win it all and your team will face off with some tough competition no matter how it's seeded.
The ones that really howl are those whose team's don't get invited at all. Every year there are three or four examples of teams that stay outside the bubble. This year, the poster children of this supposed injustice include teams such as Dayton, Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
Yes, I agree that strong cases can be made for each of them to have been included in the selection. Of course, given the finite seedings, someone else would have been left outside, looking in. If Tech had made it and Kentucky hadn't, instead of the other way around, wouldn't we be hearing the bleatings of the Wildcat crowd instead of those from Hokieland?
Look, the NCAA tournament is nothing short of superb. It's exciting, fast paced and supremely popular. But, the teams that were left out in the cold had no shot at winning it. Always look to the 1-4 seeds for your eventual champ.
Let's look at the numbers. Let's say your team gets included as a number 16 seed. Fuhgetaboutit. No number 16 has EVER won the NCAA tournament. Wait, there's more. No #16 seed has ever won a single game. That's a combined record of 0-92 for sixteen seeders since the tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Only four times has a #15 seed won an opener. By the way, none of those four advanced beyond that single victory.
The Sweet 16 has had only one lowly seeded guest in all of its history. That was when #14 Cleveland State crashed the party, in 1986.
There have been only three double-digit seeds to advance beyond that point. Missouri (#12) went to the Elite eight in 1997. LSU (1986) and George Mason (2006) both made it to the Final Four.
That's it. There's your parade of winners. Based on the historical evidence, it's clear that none of the teams left out this year had any kind of reasonable chance of advancing very far. They'd have been the fodder at the low end of the brackets.
Tech's Head Coach Seth Greenberg half-jokingly stated that anybody (meaning the selection committee) that didn't see his Hokies as one of the top 65 teams in the nation was certifiably insane.
I happen to believe that Tech is one of the top 65 teams in the nation. However, that isn't the way this thing works.
Tech (and Mississippi and Arizona State, to name a couple others left off the dance card) are certainly better than Cornell, Belmont and Portland State. To draw an analogy, the runner up in the Miss California beauty contest is probably better looking than the winner of the Miss Wyoming contest (heck the winner of some of the livestock competitions in California probably top Miss Wyoming).
The beauty of the NCAA tourney is that it brings together the top 4-6 from the major conferences, a couple from the mid-majors and a sprinkling of the Austin Peays and Sienas.
There is no better event in sports than the Final Four. Is it perfect? No, of course not.
And, fortunately, once the games tip-off, the anger that folks feel at seeing their teams slighted turns into enjoyment and even rabid fandom.