Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, March 12, 2018 at 4:00 PM
!Let's be a straight shooter about this whole NCAA Tournament Selection Show deal ...
We here at Jim Sez - to be perfectly honest -- have been extremely fair to the ever-changing NCAA Tournament Committee folks over the years and often times have defended the "chair" and his cohorts even when they've angered snubbed teams but this year's whole process has us peeved!
For starters, a drawn-out and oft-boring show on TBS instead of the per usual one-hour Selection Show on CBS simply didn't fly - don't those TV brainiacs realize it's much more exciting to see the brackets posted one-by-one instead of delivering all the teams that made it (and all those that didn't) right out of the gate? Ugh!
On top of that mess - and who needs a dopey studio audience listening to the know-nothing rants of Kenny Smith, Clark Kellogg, et al? - the committee folks blew it on a whole lot of fronts and we'll get to the major complaints shortly but first this important reminder because the truth is we're still ultra-pumped for great "Big Dance" action beginning Tuesday/Wednesday nights from Dayton:
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Okay, so back to the NCAA Tournament ...
Let's start off by saying that the committee absolutely got the number one seeds right - although it wasn't all that difficult naming Virginia, Villanova, Kansas and Xavier as the top seeds - and their placements geographically made perfect sense:
Virginia is #1 in the South Region
Villanova is #1 in the East Region
Xavier is #1 in the West Region and
Kansas is #1 in the Midwest Region.
Hip, hip, hooray.
But here's the rub when it came to the other high-profile seeds (that's #2, 3 and 4):
North Carolina is too high at #2 in the Midwest (should be a #4 seed); Arizona is too low at #4 in the South (should be a #2 seed after copping the Pac-12 Championship); and Ohio State is a touch too low at #5 in the West (should be no lower than a #4 seed) - all of these are minor sins, if you will. We'll admit that we made USC a #4 seed in this NCAA Tournament and the Trojans didn't even make the cut!
Okay, so we've heard all the arguments against USC - double-digit losses, NCAA investigators sniffing at the door, etc. but how dare the committee folks boot USC right out of the field (they did make it to the Pac-12 Tournament Championship Game last Saturday night) and shame on the committee for apparently "punishing" the likes of Oklahoma State and Louisville who also were subject to various FBI probes.
Hey, NCAA Tournament, if you're gonna slap around USC, Okie State and Louisville because of the FBI junk then maybe you should have told them ahead of time they were "up against it" when trying to pull off a tournament bid!
If you really want to know, we'll go on record to state that better Thursday/Friday matchups could have been in the making as long as a seed line here or there was tweaked ... why not, let's say, a Rhode Island vs. Seton Hall game where Rhodie head coach Danny Hurley goes up against his alma mater or perhaps a Houston vs. Oklahoma game where Coogs coach Kelvin Sampson gets a crack at hid old school - congratulation committee on showing no imagination!
Now for the other "snubbed" teams:
Both Middle Tennessee State (24-7, #33 RPI) and Saint Mary's (28-5, #40 RPI) were blatant snubs but par-for-the-course snubs, if you will. Both mid-major teams lost in their respective mini-tournies last week and were swatted down by the NCAA in favor of teams like undeserving Syracuse and Arizona State (who happen to be playing one another in a "First Four" game on Wednesday night) and, whereas we forecast that 41 teams would be NCAA Tournament bound hailing from the nation's six power conferences, we wound up with only 38 teams from these elite conferences but the mid-majors still suffered ... geez!
Is this here-and-now NCAA Tournament really all about teams such as Texas (a #10 seed) and N.C. State (a #9 seed) getting the nods over the Middle Tennessee's and Saint Mary's of the world? Wrong choices, guys.
Finally, in our pre-NCAA Tournament Show column we mentioned that the committee should give us as many power conference vs. non-power conference opening-round matchups as possible, so as to give "David" a shot at "Goliath" but instead we get Wichita State versus Marshall, Gonzaga vs. UNC-Greensboro and Houston at San Diego State.
Okay, so now for the good stuff:
The NCAA Tournament Committee has - as usual - lined up a batch of potential fun second-round (Saturday/Sunday) matchups and so if we happen to get Kentucky versus Arizona, West Virginia versus Wichita State, Ohio State versus Gonzaga and Duke versus Oklahoma then we'll all be winners.
If you happen to be looking for a potential "bracket buster" pair of games, then maybe - just maybe - #12 New Mexico State and #13 College of Charleston can swipe upsets against respective foes Clemson and Auburn or perhaps you're intrigued by #12 Murray State over West Virginia and #13 Marshall over Wichita State.
Final thoughts ...
All this talk about the Midwest Region being "loaded" is crazy talk because the South is where there figures to be a field of landmine games ... can you imagine #1 Virginia might have to beat Creighton, Arizona or Kentucky and then Cincinnati just to get to the Final Four?
Let the games begin and let us give you our longshots to win it all ... how about trying a flyer on Missouri, Butler and Florida?
NOTE: More NCAA Tournament goodies next with "First Four" comments/previews!