Siena and San Diego: Cheers to the Automatic Bids

Paul McGuillicuddyAnalyst IMarch 22, 2008

For at least one day the names of Gyno Pomare, De’Jon Jackson, Kenny Hasbrouck, and Tay Fisher occupy the consciousness of college hoop fans across the nation.

We’ll have to see if through the years these names carry the same importance as those of Keith Smart (the shot in ’87), Jack ‘Goose’ Givens (41 points in the ’78 title game), and Ed Pinckney (a miraculous run in the ’85 tournament)—guys whose achievements after college never lived up to their undergraduate accomplishments.

All that matters right now is what Pomare, Jackson, Hasbrouck, and Fisher did yesterday: help their thirteenth-seed, automatic-bid San Diego Toreros and Siena Saints advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

This feat contradicted the assertions of many college basketball analysts, Robert Montgomery Knight being the most vocal, who think the NCAA should do away with the ‘automatic’ bid.

It isn’t often that I disagree with Knight (notice I didn’t suggest that I would defend all of Knight’s actions and statements), but I do think in this idea the General is wrong.

I have previously mentioned my love for conference tournaments. Knight criticizes these post-season games as nothing more than another opportunity for revenue. Most of these tournaments pre-date the era of sports as a money-making monster.

Knight also criticized the NCAA committee for not choosing sixty-four best teams in the country. He’s right.

But is that what the tournament is about?

Or is the tournament about giving representation to all conferences and therefore all teams?

Siena and San Diego proved to be more than worthy opponents yesterday. They also provided another example of why we all watch sports: that chance to see the inevitable take place before our very eyes.

Thank you Siena and San Diego, for earning automatic bids and playing out of your minds yesterday.