Discussion

Responses to The Strangest Bracket Ever

by Special Feature | March 14th, 2006

Editor’s Note: I received a number of well-reasoned and passionate responses to this year’s controversial bracket. Below are some of the best:

I understand that this is a difficult task and it is very easy for all of us to sit on the outside and object. But, I also believe there is reason to object when an Air Force team is selected to a field of 65 when their are much more deserving teams out there. I also think it is unbelievable that teams as talented as Cincinnati and Michigan are left out of the field. I am glad however that we are debating the 33rd and 34th team instead of the debacle that is the BCS, where the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the nation are debated.

–Nick Evans

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My interest level in this “sport” has significantly decreased. It was made painfully obvious that they don’t look at the most deserving teams, they wanted a representation from all areas of the country to generate interest (I guess). I won’t watch one game this year. The selection committee embarrassed themselves yesterday – and should all resign, effectively immediately.

–Michael Macauley

Come on Michael–not one game?! Though it’s certainly true that the Tournament has lost some of its luster this year by a tainted selection and seeding process…

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I thought this year’s selection committee did a lousy job. Tennessee is not a 2 seed & neither is UCLA , I see an early exit for them, and I agree that Illinois and BC were screwed. GW can’t be happy with their seed…. the committee’s selections were awfully random & incoherent. Cincy would win 9/10 games against Air Force. This is one of the worst years for selections that I can remember.
–David Phillips

Glad to know I wasn’t the only one who thought the Committee’s choices lacked consistency.

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The most troubling thing about this year’s selection process is the precedent it sets for future seasons. Up until now, mid-major schools may have felt slighted, but at least they had a road map laid out by previous committees: schedule strong on the road, boost the RPI, win some big games, and you’re in. That’s out the window now.

Imagine yourself in the position of a mid-major athletic director. How in the world are you supposed to schedule for next season? The committee may say it was sending a message to major conferences to go on the road against decent competition, but its actions don’t match the lip service. The unfortunate result is that future seasons will be played under a cloud of uncertainty for many mid-majors, who, until now, had some reasonably objective criteria to judge their relative strength.

–David Brazeal

One can only hope this year is an anomaly rather than a precedent.

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The committee made some very odd decisions this year. Having said that, I’m not too surprised by it. Littlepage made some strange comments about how decisions would not be made strictly on the numbers, and I am thinking that there was a lot of subjective and anecdotal reasoning here. The product of that kind of deliberation is that persuasive committee members will be able to influence the selections.

The reason good decisions are made mostly “by the numbers” is that it avoids the arbitrary and capricious result we have from this year’s committee.

–Matt Samsel, West Chester, PA

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If you were seeding the previous selection committees in a bracket, this one would be in the play-in game!

–Barrett Lewis

Well said!

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Anyway, I’m not complaining too much for Iowa’s sake, we finished at number 7 in the RPI, helped by the strong big ten tourney run. I was just wondering was the only reason you left us at 4 because you didn’t update it in time after the game with OSU, or did you really think that the team with a 10 for RPI going into the day and won, would stay at a 4?

Editor’s Note: I was going on the statement made by Bob Bowlsby two years ago that the outcomes of the Big Ten and Big XII finals were not considered because they were decided so late in the day.

I totally agree about Air Force, I graduated from there, and we’ve only been good for the past three years. I thought we got the sympathy call two years ago when we still lost first round of the MWC tourney, like every year, but won the regular season and had a solid record. This year, we had the chance to beat Washington, lost a couple of bad games on the road, and lost to Wyoming yet again in the tourney. There is no way they should be in, and they should be NIT bound, where there style against mediocre teams could win
them a few. However they will not make a good show against Illinois, and so many teams like Missouri st., hofstra, Cincinnati, would have made it at least an interesting game with a little more size and exciting play than AF.

–John Miller

Nice to hear from an unbiased Falcons fan!

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Saw your top 10 and agreed with nearly all of it. Two points:

First, I don’t agree with those who say that BC was seeded way too low. They were under .500 against RPI top 50 teams, notching only 3 quality wins, and their SOS was only 70. Only one team with just 3 quality wins is seeded higher, and that’s Gonzaga, who has a better record against the RPI top 50 (3-3).

Second, the team I think got a bad seed was LSU. They ran away with the SEC title and yet are only the third highest seeded SEC team. Sure, they lost in the tournament semifinals, but Tennesee lost in the first round and got a 2-seed. Furthermore, LSU was resting injured starter Tyrus Thomas, who will be back for the NCAAs. They picked up some losses when the young team played some very tough opponents out of conference. Since early January, they’ve played as well as anyone in the country.

–Holt Goddard, NY

I don’t think BC was necessarily seeded too low. But they were put at a significant disadvantage by having to play in a western pod (Salt Lake City) with three western teams in the first and second rounds. Not what I would call a “protected” seed.

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I’m a huge KU fan, so I must say that I’m a bit surprised that I am sticking up for North Carolina, but the fact that they weren’t sent to Greensboro with a 2-seed and Tennessee was just boggles my mind. Having tried to make my own bracket the past several years, I know that sometimes teams may be moved up or down a line due to conflicts with other conference teams being in their same region. But since the 2- and 3-seeds are in the same part of the bracket, I just can’t understand the reasoning of the committee. Carolina and Tennessee could have easily been switched without causing ANY conference conflicts.

–Jarrod Worthington, Bucyrus, Kansas

Agreed. Conference conflicts should not affect teams seeded on lines 1-4.

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You didn’t mention the blatant snubbing of Cincinnati. What else is a team supposed to do? When comparing their schedule/results with almost EVERY at large team seeded 8-13 (and Cal at a 7), you can’t find many of those teams with better resumes. The Kirkland injury theory is ridiculous, because if it matters how a team plays down the stretch, the Bearcats obviously recovered and KILLED Syracuse, played #1 seed Villanova to the wire, and beat West Virginia (3rd place team in the best conf) when West Virginia didn’t miss a shot. There is only one bad loss, which was revenged later in the season (Dayton).

Some of these teams (George Mason, Air Force, Utah State) did absolutely NOTHING… but then look at Arizona, Kentucky, UAB, Cal, Seton Hall… are their resumes THAT much better than Cincy’s that they get 8 9 and 10 seeds..and Cincy is OFF the board??? The Bearcats lost on a lucky runner in the Big East tourney to the eventual champ and lost at Seton Hall on their senior night. But didnt Syracuse lose by 39 to DEPAUL, and Seton Hall lose by 50 and 40 in games?? Also, have a little sympathy for what these kids were able to accomplish. Looking at the whole picture, this has to be the biggest snub in years… especially since all the experts had the Bearcats solidly in. The tournament committee did a horrible job, and something needs to be done in the future where actual people who watch games and do research can decide the fate of teams, instead of a bunch of old guys who use big words and have schools to run (not time to watch a lot of games). Give us a break.

–Justin Berg

The Bearcats were certainly snubbed. But I CAN understand their rationale, with a 6-10 record sans Armein Kirkland. I don’t agree with it (I had the Bearcats as a 10 seed), but it’s one of the few inconsistencies where I at least have a sense of their logic.

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Air Force and Utah State? And the exclusion of Cincinnati? Even your rival Joe Lunardi agrees with you on this one. Ridiculous (and I’m far from a Cincy fan). Littlepage got what he deserved from CBS’ Billy Packer & co. The tournament is supposed to be for the best and the brightest, not a pat on the back for trying hard. A’s for effort should end in elementary school, not in college.

–Michael Lundin

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And finally…ONE fan sticks up for the Falcons.

Why the Hate for a good clean college basketball program? We have enough representation of non-graduating schools. Why not allow a school that has 100% graduation rate play in the tournament. It is honestly the only way we can play them. Air Force called the top 175 schools to get a game on their schedule and they all said no. Some hung up because they said we were to competitive and they couldn’t afford a loss to us. Duke said no. The Big 12 said no. We cannot make our schedule tougher unless the likes of Cincinnati, Maryland and Florida State agree to a game with us and they won’t. Maybe the committee is trying to send a message about scheduling out of conference. We scheduled Georgia Tech the day after the final Four two years ago. Who could predict their fall? Miami was also supposed to be a strong team. St Mary’s was a tournament team last year. Gonzaga won’t play us. At least the committee is trying to get us the opportunity to play some of the elite programs to see how we stack up. Did you watch the AF-UNC game two years ago when UNC made it to the final four. AF was up at half. We didn’t have bench and lost it. But ask NC if they thought we belonged in the tournament. The Texas team that played just before us said they were glad they drew Princeton and not us.

If all you want is to watch NBA bound players in the tournament, have a separate tournament that is only inclusive of any school that has one or more NBA players on their roster.
Air Force is a high quality program that pisses people off because they are frustrated with watching a bunch of intelligent athletes overachieve by playing a smarter brand of basketball. Is a 40-1 home record really luck or might it be possible that something is going on at Air Force.

–Ezra Vance

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