Monday tip: Who has the biggest gripe?
Selection Sunday has come and gone, and fans now are poring over the brackets, figuring which double-digit seeds can win in the first round, which surprise teams can get through to the Sweet 16 and which teams will make it to the Final Four.
But in our weekly Monday Tip feature, we’re going to take one more look back at Selection Sunday, most specifically which team that was left out has the biggest gripe.
Jason King: Saint Mary’s
Schools such as Penn State, Virginia Tech and San Diego State may think they have a beef, but Saint Mary’s has more reason than anyone to whine about not making the NCAA tournament. The Gaels did everything they could to ensure themselves a spot in the bracket. They scheduled tough games, they traveled – and, more than anything, they won. Sure, there were the setbacks that occurred when star guard Patrick Mills was out with a broken hand, but other schools in this season’s field lost games because of injured players, too, and it hardly seemed to affect their seeding. Saint Mary’s was a top-25 team and likely would’ve won the West Coast Conference had it not been for Mills’ injury. The selection committee should’ve realized that and reacted accordingly. We already knew we weren’t going to get to see Davidson’s Stephen Curry in this year’s tournament. Now there’s no Mills, either. Just like the Gaels, college basketball fans are getting hosed.
Mike Huguenin: No one
Schools such as San Diego State, Creighton and Saint Mary’s have gripes, but none of those omissions make you scream, tear your hair or swear vengeance on the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. The problem was that none of these teams really played anybody. San Diego State’s RPI is 34th, but the Aztecs have just two RPI top-50 wins. Creighton’s RPI is 40th, but the Bluejays have just two RPI top-50 wins. Saint Mary’s RPI is 48th, but the Gaels have just two RPI top-50 wins. People can complain that Arizona made it in, but the Wildcats had six top-50 wins. Wisconsin had four RPI top-50 wins. Dayton had three. Of course, this brings up an inherent problem with college basketball: Creighton, San Diego State and Saint Mary’s don’t have many top-50 wins because they have trouble scheduling top-50 teams. It does no good for that trio – and many others of their ilk – to always play top-notch teams on the road. It’s a Catch-22 for those types of teams: “We can’t get top-50 wins because we can’t schedule top-50 teams.”