March 12, 2007

Bracket Banter: NCAA and NIT

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.

Continue reading "Bracket Banter: NCAA and NIT" »

March 11, 2007

Selection Show: Walters and Packer are Civil

Gary Walters said Kansas was a No. 1 regardless of the result of the Big 12 title.

. . . We've just ordered dessert - the Blondie Brownie a la mode which comes with both chocloate and caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

It's our reward to ourself for getting through more than 38 hours of live-blogging in four days. We deserve it - our spare tire be damned.

. . . All of the sudden Billy Packer is a champion for the mid-majors? But the premise of the question is valid: The Mids get only six bids and that decreases the chances for a George Mason-like Cinderella story.

. . . The last three or four at-larges were the hardest according to Walters.

. . . Texas Tech vs. Kansas State was another good question by Packer which had Walters back-pedalling a bit.

. . . Dessert has arrived, so I'm done with you folks for now. We'll check in again after we have a chanced to digest later on tonight.

. . . Thanks for hanging with us. Hope you had as much fun as we did.

Selection Show: No 'Cuse, No Drexel

So the bubble has burst for Drexel and Syracuse and each will have a good argument for being in, but arguments don't do much this time of year.

. . . Memphis gets a nice path to the Sweet 16 with a potential Calipari-Pitino match-up looming in what will be called the "Itchy Shoe/Gucci Shoe" re-match (look it up, it goes back to UMass and Kentucky in the early 90s).

. . . Billy Packer called Winthrop this year's George Mason.

. . . ACC gets seven bids and the Big East, Pac 10 and Big 10 get six each. Five for the SEC and four for the Big 12.

. . . Four of Jim Calhoun's former assistants are in the Tourney - good stat from Packer and Jim Nantz. They are: Dave Leitao (Virginia), Carl Hobbs (GWU), Howie Dickenman (Central Conn.) and Glen Miller at Penn.

Calhoun might not even get to the NIT - we'll find out at 9 p.m. tonight.

. . . Let's see what Gary Walters has to say. . .

Selection Show: Crean vs. Izzo

Arkansas gets the bid it deserved and somewhere in the air between Atlanta and Arkansas, Stan Heath and the Hogs celebrate.

. . . Marquette and Michigan State is another indicator of the committee's sense of history and compelling storylines with Tom Crean facing mentor Tom Izzo in a brutal 8-9 game.

. . . Colleague Seth Davis went out on a big limb and already took Oral Roberts over Washington State.

. . . Boston College will be another early round flameout either against Texas Tech (likely) or Georgetown (definitely). What a contrast of coahes between Al Skinner and Bobby Knight. It's quite possible Knight doesn't even know who the coach of BC is.

. . . Don't be surprised to see George Washington take out Vanderbilty. Carl Elliott can win a game by himself in this Tournament.

. . . Texas has a nice ride to the Sweet 16 and so does, of course, UNC.

Selection Show: Two and a Half Bids

Charlie Sheen always gets the sexiest women on his show, "Two and a Half Men." I hate him for it. And David Spade makes two.

. . . Holy Cross and S. Illinois is a mid-major battle for the ages in the West region. And the set-up for UCLA-Pittsburgh confirms my long-held belief that the Committee does - depsite its denials - look ahead to intriguing, made for TV match-ups.

. . . J&J went to full audio for the selection show so I know have Clark and Seth in full stereo instead of just on my own private little TV. My man, John, the manager is taking over things here. I'm guessin that soon enough we'll be getting jello shots for the whole bar - especially the comely ladies at the bar, who would be No. 1 seeds in any bracket they enter.

. . . Kentucky-Nova has a lot of intrigue, especially considering it could be Tubby Smith's last game at Kentucky.

Selection Show: Yay, More Coach K Commercials

It's gotta be March, we've got new Coach K commercials. Let the heckling begin.

. . . Just to give you a feel for Jocks and Jills, we're surrounded by sports memorabilia, including a Ralph Smapson autographed jersey, a Kevin Greene autogrpahed jersey and an plain Kenny Battle Hawks jersey. There's also an Atlanta Knights hockey jersey.

. . . Guess Florida doesn't get the play-in winner. My bad.

. . . WIth ODU in, Drexel is probably out. They beat the Dragons twice despite the Dragons having 13 road wins. The CAA probably doesn't get three bids, as VCU is the automatic qualifier.

. . . Oregon could have a nice road to the Sweet 16 and a potential second round game of contrasting styles between UNLVand Wisconsin would be a battle of Cheezy (Vegas) versus Cheese (Wisconsin).

. . . I'm taking Winthrop over Notre Dame almost without blinking. Love that team.

Selection Show: No. 1's No surprise

Florida, Ohio State, Kansas and UNC - no surprises and UCLA did stumble down the end. they have no argument.

The importance of the conference tournaments is an early topic and all four No. 1s won their respective Tourneys.

Florida is No. 1 overall, as expected, meaning they'll get the play-in winner.

Selection Show: Jocks and Jills and Brackets

Now we're getting comfy at the new spot which Autumn has put us in. The J&J manager, John, came over to welcome us with open arms and was even good enough to give us some volume on the little TV behind us. This better than being in the CBS Control room. (And they probably aren't sipping - cautiously, of course, Boss - the chilly Killians Red, like we are.

. . . Greg Gumbel just gave us the five minute warning, so it's almost showtime.

. . . John Calipari is once again opening his house to the CBS cameras. In our days back at UMass, we were part of the Calipari Selection Sunday celebration (at a slightly smaller pad) and he has always appreciated the importance of getting those cameras into his living room in order to promote his program. It always shows what a tight family he has, not just a team.

It's a big joke among the neighbors wherever Calipari lives as the satellite trucks roll up onto the lawn and start beaming the coach and his players to the nation.

. . . There's a Gary Walters (Selection chair) teleconference at 7 p.m. (EST) and we're thinking it might me improper to have J&J background noise when we ask why so-and-so isn;t in the field.

. . .Here we go. . .

Selection Show: Autumn and March Madness

Our hoops-loving hostess, Autumn, is trying to arrange a seat for us in the "300s" section of "Jocks and Jills" so that we will be able to have closed-captioning - if not volume - for the CBS Selection show. Now we know why Autumn is always our favorite time of year.

. . . It was wonderful to be watching Greg Oden on one screen and Kevin Durant on the other as both the BIg Ten and Big 12 finals wound down. It almost looked like the Texas-Kansas final would run into the selection show, but we're thinking we're in the clear now that Kansas has assumed control and finished off the Longhorns.

. . . Some SEC leftovers as promised:

The two most impressive coaches of the weekend were Andy Kennedy of Ole Miss and Stan Heath of Arkansas. Kennedy for the fact that he's taken a fairly ragtag bunch of leftovers from the previous regime and formed them into contenders in the SEC West in very short time. If the recruiting is going as well as we've been told, the Rebs are going to be pre-season picks to win the West and possibly de-throne Florida.

Heath, who also has a very solid returning nucleus, was impressive for the fact that he was enduring the whispers of a coach on the hot seat for the entire Tourney. He deflected that attention, focused on his team and got his Hogs to play some of their best ball of the season when they needed it most.

Heath and the Hogs will be mid-air when the bids are announced but he admitted he's prepared to break FAA regulations in the interest of getting some Bracketanica info: "Obviously, we'll be in the air, and thinking, and scratching our heads, praying and hoping, the whole thing. You know, there is nothing guaranteed in life. We feel we have exceptionally strong arguments to be an at large selection. Our league is, I think, the best in the country, but worst case scenario, it's second. And to penalize ourselves because we beat up on each other, because we have quality opponents from top to bottom, I just don't think would be right. You know, there are so many other leagues you can play in, and boy, it's almost hard if you didn't get five wins, because there are three teams at the bottom that are not very good, and that's not the case in our league.

"It's going to be hard being up in the air. I'm going to have my cell phone, they're going to be mad at me, but my cell phone's going to be trying to get some information while we're in the air."

. . . Our girl Autumn has come through so we're closing out of the Jeremy table and moving over to the 300s section where we'll be able to have some closed-captioning available. Let's hope we don;t lose our wireless connection.

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