Today's Paper State News Hutchinson 2024 LEARNS Guide Newsletters Opinion Sports Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

Rip the committee, but no disputing No. 1

by Wally Hall | March 17, 2015 at 2:27 a.m.
Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein holds the trophy after the NCAA college basketball Southeastern Conference tournament championship game against Arkansas, Sunday, March 15, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. Kentucky won 78-63. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

As soon as the NCAA announced the men's tournament bracket, the feeding frenzy began.

It is commonplace.

Every talking head has an opinion about seedings, matchups and even about who deserved to be in but was left out.

It is commonplace for Dick Vitale to have his feelings hurt over a team that didn't make the field of 68, and this year it was Murray State.

The Racers raced through the Ohio Valley Conference unscathed to finish 16-0 and 27-5 overall. Even after they lost to Belmont 88-87 in their conference tournament, folks had them figured for the Big Dance.

The NCAA Selection Committee said no, just as it did to Colorado State (27-6 and third in the Mountain West), Temple (23-10 and third in the American Athletic Conference) and Louisiana Tech (25-8 and winner of Conference USA).

OK, no one else really said much about the Techsters, but Coach Michael White, a former point guard for Ole Miss who was a nemesis of Arkansas, is in his fourth season at Louisiana Tech and has won the conference three consecutive years. His name might be mentioned for the opening at Alabama.

UConn, the defending champion, is in the NIT after it went 20-14 overall and 10-8 in American Athletic Conference play. So it is a little hard to think the selection committee had any biases.

Well, maybe a little toward the Big Ten, which got Indiana in the field with a 9-9 conference mark, giving the conference seven teams. The Big 12 also has seven, including two teams with losing records in conference play, Oklahoma State and Texas.

Indiana lost to Northwestern but did beat four teams that made the field: SMU, Butler, Maryland and Ohio State. As a No. 10 seed, the Hoosiers open with No. 7 Wichita State.

Texas, a No. 11 seed, opens with No. 6 Butler. The Longhorns had three quality victories and a bad loss to Stanford. Oklahoma State is a No. 9 seed and faces No. 8 Oregon.

Oregon is an interesting team. Former Arkansas coach Dana Altman -- OK, he was there 24 hours -- began the season looking like he was in trouble. Altman kicked three players off the team for serious off-court allegations and Oregon started slow. Then Altman put the ball in the hands of Joseph Young and the Ducks won 11 of their final 13 regular season games.

It is difficult to argue with the four No. 1 seeds. Kentucky certainly deserved to be the overall No. 1; it is 34-0, deep and talented. The Wildcats were rewarded with a short bus ride to Louisville to start the tournament, and if Nashville, Tenn., looked like Lexington South this past weekend, the basketball world hasn't seen anything yet.

Wisconsin earned its No. 1 seed on the court. Villanova, last year's bracket buster when it lost its second game as a No. 2 seed to eventual champs UConn, has four of five starters back. Only time will tell if the Wildcats choke again. Duke finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference behind Virginia, but the Cavaliers faltered in the ACC Tournament, as did Duke, but the Blue Devils seem to live charmed lives in March.

Five of the eight No. 1 and No. 2 seeds were either a No. 1 or No. 2 a year ago. Kansas was a No. 2, Arizona No. 1, Wisconsin a No. 2, Virginia a No. 1 and Villanova was, as mentioned, a No. 2 seed.

Wichita State was a No. 1 last year and is a No. 7 this year.

Florida was a No. 1 and Michigan a No. 2 a year ago. This year, neither team made it.

To close, here's an early prediction: There may be only one team in the field that can beat Kentucky, and it wears blue and white.

Sports on 03/17/2015

Print Headline: Rip the committee, but no disputing No. 1


Sponsor Content