De-Bunking a Perpetually Perpetuated Media Myth
Those of you who watched the Indiana – Illinois game this evening saw the Fighting Illini pick up a much-needed quality W. It wasn’t enough to get them back in the NCAA Tournament picture (yet), but it was a place to start for Bruce Weber and Co.
What struck me most about the game was not any of the players, coaches, or shots, but a comment by Brent Musberger, validated by Steve Lavin, midway through the first half. Musberger implied that the Big Ten is somehow “reserved” five bids to the NCAA Tournament and that it may get as many as six teams in.
This is simply not true. No conference is guaranteed ANY bids except for its conference champion, decided by an end-of-year tournament in every conference except the Ivy League.
It’s one of the most common misperceptions about the NCAA Tournament, and it is almost always the cause for fans’ anger when they feel their team/conference is “snubbed” in March. Big Ten fans are in for a real letdown if they think six teams will receive a bid in an obvious down year for the conference–the reason is not that it is impossible on the face of it, but teams simply cannot pick up enough quality wins in conference play, due to conference members’ low individual RPIs, for this to be the case.
What a shame that a commentator who has called college games for so long (as well as a former coach!) would continue to mis-inform viewers about the NCAA Tournament selection process.
(Jay Bilas did everything he could at halftime to distance ESPN from Musberger’s comment, but those of you who avoid watching the Halftime Show out of fear of Digger’s matching highlighter/tie combinations may not have been aware of the correction.)