The ides of March are upon us, and the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has finished its work for 2010.
After getting a look at the seedings and matchups, here is a look at the teams that have a legitimate beef with the committee’s decision-making.
This list of five teams features three teams who were banished to the NIT and two teams who seemed to get severely underseeded by the tournament committee.
The Invitation Got Lost in the Mail Crew
1. Mississippi State
I know that Mississippi State’s strength of schedule was abysmal. I also realize that this talented team was lackluster in the out of conference games that they did play, highlighted by a loss to Rider. But if there is a team that was left out of the tournament that passes the eye test, the boys in maroon from Starkville fit the bill.
Jarvis Varnado is an amazing defensive presence. Dee Bost and Barry Stewart are as solid a backcourt tandem as you could hope to have, and Ravern Johnson, Romero Osby, Phil Turner, and Kodi Augustus are solid pieces equal to the parts of many Sweet 16-bound teams.
I could not blame Rick Stansbury for throwing his Bulldog-issued cowbell at a TV right now.
The Fighting Illini went an unimpressive 19-14 this season, and they have a painfully low RPI of 75. But Illinois went out and played against some good out of conference competition, unlike some teams in the field (cough...Utah State...cough) and beat Vanderbilt and Clemson.
The bottom line here is that early losses to Utah and Bradley, along with a loss to Georgia (who quietly had a better out of conference résumé than many teams in the field) and a late-season swoon, doomed Bruce Weber’s bunch. However, much like Mississippi State, they look better than several teams who made the cut.
3. Virginia Tech
I think that I am going to start calling Seth Greenberg “Coach Bubble” from now on, because his teams always seem to find their way onto the fine line every season. This year, the Hokies found themselves on the outside looking in.
The reason: Much like Mississippi State, they played a nondescript out of conference schedule again, and with the ACC being down a bit, their résumé was lacking in volume. The loss in the ACC Tournament to Miami was a death blow when factored with Gonzaga, Utah State, and UTEP losing their conference title games and eating up at-large bids.
It is still hard to believe that a team that had a bye in the ACC tournament did not make the field.
The Kicked Out of First Class Crew
Bruce Pearl’s fifth season on Rocky Top has been equal parts tumultuous and rewarding. From the dismissal of senior captain Tyler Smith and varying degrees of suspensions of key players Cameron Tatum, Brian Williams, and Melvin Goins following a New Year's Day incident to the two massive wins over Kansas and Kentucky, there have been more twists and turns in their season than a roller coaster ride at nearby Dollywood.
Before Tennessee’s second-half collapse against Kentucky on Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena, many thought that the Vols were destined for a No. 4 seed. However, they found a No. 6 seed and a dangerous San Diego State Aztecs team in their stockings.
Mark Few’s Zags are way past the cute little team from Spokane or that place John Stockton went to school at this point. To be honest, I think they have the best program west of Lawrence, KS at this point in time.
With that said, they got minimal love from the selection committee this year. Gonzaga scheduled like a champion again by playing Michigan State, Wake Forest, Duke, and Illinois and winning the fabled Maui Invitational. They followed that up by running through the underrated West Coast Conference.
However, a loss to a good St. Mary’s team in the WCC title game seemingly knocked the Zags down to a No. 8 seed and a matchup with an athletic Florida State team.