Bracket Banter: NCAA and NIT

By David Scott - March 12, 2007

Drexel's Dragons are outraged and breathing fire, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim is whining (once) again and Air Force is probably looking for a small country to invade to express its school's outrage.

But we're here to tell you the school that got jobbed the most by the Committee was the Univeristy of Akron from the MAC, which didn't get an NIT bid. Shame on you CM Newton (ex- of the SEC and the chair of the Old Boy network NIT Selection Committee). And shame on your good buddies among the sham NIT field pickers which includes a bunch of old guy basketball legends like Dean Smith, Gene Keady and Don Devoe who probably think the "Zips" are something you get after the "runs."

Does the CM stand for Can't Make the right decision? Or is it for Clearly Mismanaging the NIT?

When the NCAA (and ESPN) took over the NIT, there was hope that the selection process might gain some credibility and create a better, more deserving field. We should have known better. Even in a year when NCAA Chair Gary Walters said there was 104 20-win teams that were getting consideration for the Big Dance, the Little Dance organizers couldn't figure out the proper 32 to choose from those 40-some-odd programs.

All the Zips did was go 26-7 (most wins in the MAC, highest RPI in-league), come within a buzzer-beater (by Miami, Ohio) of being the MAC Tourney winner and go 10-4 on the road while beating NCAA Tournament participants Niagara, Oral Roberts and Miami (OH) in the regular season. They lost by two to NCAA dancer Nevada and finished 13-3 in the MAC. They were 8-2 in their final ten.

Coach Keith Dambrot told the Clevelend Plain Dealer's Elton Alexander: "It's hard to believe we didn't get in. I can't figure it out. Only nine teams in the country had more road/neutral wins than us [13]. This is on the league. I can't blame us. We did what we had to do. It's not right. It's just not right."

Oh, and the team is chock full of ex-teammates and buddies of a guy named Lebron James, who very likely would have brought more attention to the Zips and the NIT than 75 percent of the named field. CM, have you heard of this James kid? Some call him The King. Same way some might call you The Clueless.

Listen, I know it's "just" the NIT, but for crying out loud, if you're going to have a legitimate second tier tournament, shouldn't you have a legitimate committee making the picks and not some BCS conference loving old fogey?

"I'm as flabbergasted as anybody," Rick Boyages told the Plain-Dealer, the MAC's director of basketball operations. "These [NIT selection committee] guys get every piece of material we've got on our teams. This is my job. I don't understand this."

The Zips wuz robbed and for that those NIT-wit "guys" should be ashamed.

Whoooo. That felt good.

Now, after the jump, we can get onto some of the other mistakes, intrigue and potential match-ups in both the brackets.

. . . It's a disturbing trend to see the decrease in "mid-major" at-large teams which has gone from 12 in 2004 to nine in '05 to eight last year and this year's six, according to the CBS selection show graphic.

We thought the so-called "George Mason effect" would convince the selection committee of the worthiness of some of the non-BCS conference programs. Drexel did everything the committee asks of its non-power league teams out of conference and they were then penalized for losing in-conference games (twice to ODU, once without its marquee big man, Frank Elegar). But teams like Arkansas, Purdue and Illinois are rewarded for their in-conference losses.

One of the arguments we heard from an SEC beat guy over the weekend was that ODU, VCU or Drexel would lose by 40 every night in the SEC. Maybe so, but that's the point. Everyone is asked by the committee to schedule the best they can out of conference, win those games and then perform well in-conference. The mid-majors struggle to get the marquee games and when the do get them and they do win those games (as Drexel did over Syracuse, Villanova and Creighton) the committee seems to ignore those Ws and focuses on the "good Ls" in the power conferences. Losing somehow benefits BCS teams more than winning does non-BCS teams.

The system isn't necessarily broken, but the pickers need to be reminded of the magic Mason Nation created last year and get back to more mid-major representation.

. . . We're particularly focused on the Buffalo 1st and 2nd round site because that's where we're shuffling off to on Wednesday. The site is clearly the Mid-Major meeting place as CAA sisters VCU and ODU will be in the HSBC Arena along with Horizon sisters Butler and Wright State and the Southern Conference's champ, Davidson. At first blush, I was thinking, "Eh, sort of a dog site." But on second glance, we're quite intrigued by the match-ups: VCU is going to give Duke all it wants, especially from guard Eric Maynor and if Aaron Gray plays as awfully as he did Saturday night in Madison Sqaure Garden, Wright State could be pulling the upset over Pitt. Butler/ODU is a fantastic 5/12 match-up of mid-major maestros and even Maryland/Davidson has the potential for a competitive contest (although the Terps should prevail).

. . . Southern Illinois/Holy Cross is another great mid-major match-up and Ralph Willard will, as usual, have his Crusaders prepared, but we look for the Salukis to get to the Sweet 16 after a win over No. 5 Virginia Tech.

. . . Marquette/Michigan State is my early pick for the first round's best game with Nevada/Creighton a close-second in another wonderful Cinderella-type match-up.

. . . Should seeds hold, BC and Goergetown will have an old-time Big East match-up in round 2 in Winston/Salem. But we have ZERO faith in BC, which stumbled, tripped and mostly backed into the Tourney.

. . . The Brainiac Game of the Tourney is set up in the South Region at Lexington if 11-seed Stanford can upset 5-seed Louisville and 14-seed Penn can get past 3-seed Texas A&M. Overtime in that game would be an SAT essay question instead of five minutes of ball.

. . .A quick look at the NIT bracket shows the absence of two-time defending champ, South Carolina. which finished 14-16 and was thus ineligible for the Lil Dance. We say an exception should have been made so the 'Cocks could have gone for the 3-peat.

Someone's got to say these things.

. . .CM's committee did have a sense of humor with some of its potential match-ups: Old A-10 rivals, West Virginia and UMass could meet in the second round and with a few upsets, UMass could face ex-coach Bruiser Flint and Drexel in the NIT "Elite" 8.

. . . The NIT-wits missed a chance to put Syracuse and Vermont in the same grouping and those teams would need to get to New York for a re-match of the Catamounts upset win of a couple years back in Worcester during the NCAA first round.

. . . Can you imagine that UConn didn't get into the NIT? Call it the Lost Season for the Huskies of Jim Calhoun.

. . . Okay, that's quite enough of the NIT nitpicking. We'd be more inclined to discuss it longer if they hadn't jobbed the Zips.

. . . See you Wednesday from Buffalo, where the keyboard is sure to get covered with wing sauce.

Posted by David Scott at 01:01 AM on March 12, 2007
Comments (3)


Mr Scott,

What have you been smoking? Clearly you know little about college basketball. Put Akron in the ACC or Big East, they win 3 games at best. Get REAL! The NCAA Tournament is supposed to showcase the best 65 team in the country, not be a repository of half-baked programs. And the concept of automatic bids ought to be eliminated. The last place ACC team would beat 90% of the mid-major teams selected 99 of 100 times. How is this representative of the best 65? Syracuse's second 5 would beat Akron 98 out of 100. I know it's painful to admit, but that is the true reality of it.

Akron did get robbed and why do they have very old people voting for the ncaa anyway? Most of them problely don't even remember they last name let alone the so called mid majors! ROMEO AND DRU DESERVED BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm glad somebody out there realized how Akron got shafted from the Big Dance!!!
When I went to see who they would play in the NIT I thought there was a misprint. No Akron....Unbelieveable, the game against Miami was one of the best tournamant games I watched last week...Lebron should sit out the next 10 games in protest....Go Zags....


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