Selection Sunday is as much about conference respect as the NCAA Men’s Tournament and this season the power conferences took a huge, humbling blow to the gut. Sure the Big East received eight bids and the Big 12 received seven, but the other conferences have to take stock of what happened this year and either accept that the Mid Majors have arrived or cry and whine until the field is expanded to 96 teams.
Personally, I would prefer for the field to remain at 65. Even though my Illini were left out of the field, I do not want to see 30 more undeserving teams crowd the brackets just because Bruce Weber cannot recruit a player that can rebound. Of course, like any other fan whose team’s bubble was burst, I have my conspiracy theories (I think Florida only got in because the committee could not fathom only having 3 SEC teams in the tourney, costing the Illini their spot as a number 10 seed).
This will not happen though. Dickie V is sure to complain about the ACC’s lack of representation when in reality they are overrepresented. The Big Ten will complain as well, since they must be tired of having to justify their inclusion as a power conference despite playing in the Midwest (not everyone worthwhile leaves first chance they get). The Pac-10 will complain, but nobody will care since Gonzaga can beat their best team just about every year and they play in the West Coast Conference (WCC).
The influence of the power conferences cannot be denied. They are a major reason the BCS still remains the accepted means by which to ruin the end of the college football season every year. They command huge television contracts and money talks in college sports…which is simply an incredible business model that really underpays its athletes while doing them a disservice and leaving them unprepared to enter the real world, unless every athlete dreams of selling insurance or cars, or returning home to coach their high school team (this generalization is restricted to football and basketball players).
So I have established that I am more than a little perturbed by my team’s failure to win 20 games and secure a bid and I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the coming expansion of the field. So what else do I have to say…let’s look at some more of the people that were screwed over.
Yes, their fans have March Madness tickets to see the number one seed in the tourney play in their own region. Sure, that means that the courts will be a bit friendlier and the cost of travel will bankrupt fewer Jayhawk fans. However, have you look at this region? It is loaded. Andy Katz has deemed it the toughest region in the country in his Midwest preview on ESPN and he is far from the only one wondering how being the top seed means potentially playing so many conference champions and the best second seed in the Men’s Tournament before getting to the Final Four. This is a great, natural place to transition to the next big loser on Selection Sunday…
Ohio State Buckeyes
They team wins the freaking Big Ten, have one of the two serious player of the year candidates, is the fifth or sixth best team in the national according to the AP or ESPN/USA Today polls, and somehow ends up with a number two seed in the toughest region. How did this screw job happen? Who orchestrated this apparent Super Region while giving a pathetic Duke team an easy road to the Final Four? Well, it’s our next biggest loser…
They made a mess of the tournament this season, which is par for the course if you are a college basketball fan. I think one of the major reasons they ended up with such a lopsided set of regions is that they were lied to by Syracuse. The Athletic Director kept it under wraps that the forward Arinze Onuaku will miss at least the first weekend. Suddenly a team missing a major component of its interior defense gets an easier road in the East as the number one seed. I do not know if the committee would have given Ohio State or West Virginia the nod if this information was revealed earlier, but Ohio State would definitely not be in the Midwest Super Group.