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  1. #1
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    At Large: 34 Best Teams?

    During a recent Basketball and Beyond broadcast with Seth Davis, Coach K stated that the 34 NCAA Tournament at-large bids are designed to go to the 34 best teams and that the current rules are set-up in such a way that the 34 best teams may not be invited. At the outset, I concede that the NCAA has decreed that the goal of the NCAA Tournament Committee is to use at-large bids to invite the 34 best teams available:

    "The committee shall select the 34 best teams to fill the at-large berths."

    I also agree with K that the current rules may not accomplish that purpose in all cases.

    However, I reject the premise. As a basketball fan, I'm interested in the 34 most deserving teams receiving at-large bids. For example, I'd rather see an interesting and successful team from a lower conference which might have lost-out on an automatic bid by failing to win its conference tournament (perhaps Davidson) receive an at-large bid than -- say -- the eighth team from a "power" conference (perhaps Providence) irrespective of whether I think (again, for example) Davidson is better than Providence.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    "Most deserving" is SO open to interpretation though. It leaves the door open for teams to get in for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with basketball. Davidson this year, for example, hasn't proven it on the court. It seems awfully easy to go down that road and end up picking teams based on what kind of TV ratings they'll bring or how well their fans will travel.

    "Best" is of course also somewhat subjective, but for the most part we all understand what "best" means even if we may not agree on who the "best" is.

  3. #3
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    Coach K also said earlier this season that the ACC was clearly the best conference and it wasn't close. He seems to have a couple statements every year that are just transparent attempts to defend the ACC.

    That's fine - I think every college coach does this - just understand that he has an agenda, and these kinds of statements should be taken with the same level of seriousness as Jim Boeheim saying the tournament needs to be expanded after Syracuse was left out for two years.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by RPS View Post
    During a recent Basketball and Beyond broadcast with Seth Davis, Coach K stated that the 34 NCAA Tournament at-large bids are designed to go to the 34 best teams and that the current rules are set-up in such a way that the 34 best teams may not be invited. At the outset, I concede that the NCAA has decreed that the goal of the NCAA Tournament Committee is to use at-large bids to invite the 34 best teams available:

    "The committee shall select the 34 best teams to fill the at-large berths."

    I also agree with K that the current rules may not accomplish that purpose in all cases.

    However, I reject the premise. As a basketball fan, I'm interested in the 34 most deserving teams receiving at-large bids. For example, I'd rather see an interesting and successful team from a lower conference which might have lost-out on an automatic bid by failing to win its conference tournament (perhaps Davidson) receive an at-large bid than -- say -- the eighth team from a "power" conference (perhaps Providence) irrespective of whether I think (again, for example) Davidson is better than Providence.

    Thoughts?
    You're getting into a real gray area here. Why is Davidson necessarily more deserving than Providence? Providence may not have a lot of great wins (neither does Davidson, for that matter), but they did go 10-8 in conference. They might have dominated the SoCon just like Davidson did had they played there. There's no reason to assume Davidson would have done better than 10-8 against Providence's schedule, either. Providence shouldn't be penalized for playing in a tougher conference.

    The goal of the committee is to determine the 34 best teams (which is equivalent to the 34 most-deserving teams, in my mind). That should be determined irrespective of conference. If it happens to be that 10 of the best 34 at-large came from the Big East, so be it. Obviously, that's not the case. The criteria used are supposed to be a way to compare teams irrespective of conference, to determine whether Davidson deserves the bid more than Providence or vice versa.

    You can argue that the committee doesn't always do the best job of making these determinations, but they're trying. But to penalize middle-tier major conference teams simply because they play in a tougher conference isn't fair.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Matches View Post
    "Most deserving" is SO open to interpretation though. It leaves the door open for teams to get in for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with basketball. Davidson this year, for example, hasn't proven it on the court. It seems awfully easy to go down that road and end up picking teams based on what kind of TV ratings they'll bring or how well their fans will travel.

    "Best" is of course also somewhat subjective, but for the most part we all understand what "best" means even if we may not agree on who the "best" is.
    Exactly. Davidson is a nice story based on their tournament run last year and Steph Curry. But the reality is that they aren't as good as last year, when they had a very good PG (Jason Richards) and two productive senior post player (Thomas Sander and Boris Meno) to complement Curry and Lovedale.

    This year's Davidson team doesn't really stand out to me. Put Miami in that conference, and Jack McClinton is suddenly the fun, gunning, undersized SG. I think Miami is actually a better team than Davidson. With Miami's size, post play and perimeter depth, I bet they'd have gone undefeated in the SoCon. So why should Davidson get in based solely on the name of Steph Curry, when they just don't have the resume to be there?

  6. #6
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    Providence is your picture-perfect at-large team.

    They played above .500 ball in (some would argue) this year’s best conference. They have some decent wins along with some big wins against Syracuse and Pitt.

    I think Providence is a lock unless they tank their first game of the Big East tourney.

  7. #7
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    We're talking about the NCAA Championship Tournament, not children's tee ball where every kid gets a hit and gets to score. Being deserving of competing for the national championship ought to be being capable of competing for the national championship .. thus, "best."

    I'll agree, however, that it adds fun and drama when one of the best is a team from a non-premiere conference that may have stumbled in its conference tourney, but merits an at-large bid anyway and makes that magical run .... only to be stopped by Duke, of course.
    No soup for you!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by feldspar View Post
    Providence is your picture-perfect at-large team.

    They played above .500 ball in (some would argue) this year’s best conference. They have some decent wins along with some big wins against Syracuse and Pitt.
    Except that they didn't, really. Conference records mean almost nothing for a 16-team clown car conference like the Big East. How impressive is a 10-6 mark if 6 of the 10 comes against dregs like St. John's, DePaul, Seton Hall, South Florida and Rutgers? And their next quality non-conference win will be their second of the year.

    But hey, they swept Rutgers.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matches View Post
    "Most deserving" is SO open to interpretation though.
    It sure is. In practice, I'm not convinced that the current system gets the, ah-hem, best results either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matches View Post
    "Best" is of course also somewhat subjective, but for the most part we all understand what "best" means even if we may not agree on who the "best" is.
    But I'm not sure that the Committee understands.

    Quote Originally Posted by CDu View Post
    You're getting into a real gray area here. Why is Davidson necessarily more deserving than Providence?
    I grant that my view is highly subjective, but once we get past the dozen or so teams with a realistic chance to win it all (Villanova notwithstanding), I care about upsets and fun and maybe even about "broadening the base" of college hoops. Other than a Duke win, the best part of the tournament is seeing some upstart putting it to a power conference team.

    Quote Originally Posted by AtlBluRew View Post
    We're talking about the NCAA Championship Tournament, not children's tee ball where every kid gets a hit and gets to score. Being deserving of competing for the national championship ought to be being capable of competing for the national championship .. thus, "best."
    Interesting argument, except that the number of teams so qualified is much lower than 65.

    Quote Originally Posted by AtlBluRew View Post
    I'll agree, however, that it adds fun and drama when one of the best is a team from a non-premiere conference that may have stumbled in its conference tourney, but merits an at-large bid anyway and makes that magical run .... only to be stopped by Duke, of course.
    Exactly.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duvall View Post
    Except that they didn't, really. Conference records mean almost nothing for a 16-team clown car conference like the Big East. How impressive is a 10-6 mark if 6 of the 10 comes against dregs like St. John's, DePaul, Seton Hall, South Florida and Rutgers? And their next quality non-conference win will be their second of the year.

    But hey, they swept Rutgers.
    Well, then poop on our 11-5 conference record cause 8 of our wins came against the likes of Georgia Tech, NC State, Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland.

    But we both know the three latter teams weren't exactly cake walks.

    Look, I understand the natural tendency to poo-poo the Big East. And I understand the argument that the Big East is bottom-heavy with bad teams. But Providence has a good resume and the Big East, despite the bottom-heavy teams, was a strong conference this year with teams that just whalloped up on eachother. Let's give credit where credit is due.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by feldspar View Post
    Well, then poop on our 11-5 conference record cause 8 of our wins came against the likes of Georgia Tech, NC State, Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland.

    But we both know the three latter teams weren't exactly cake walks.
    Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland are bubble teams that will just miss the Tournament; they don't belong in the same conversation with St. John's, DePaul, Seton Hall, South Florida and Rutgers. And even Georgia Tech and N.C. State are far superior to Rutgers, South Florida and DePaul - those teams are awful.

    Look, I understand the natural tendency to poo-poo the Big East. And I understand the argument that the Big East is bottom-heavy with bad teams. But Providence has a good resume and the Big East, despite the bottom-heavy teams, was a strong conference this year with teams that just whalloped up on eachother. Let's give credit where credit is due.
    Providence doesn't have a good resume. Their conference record is full of empty wins, and their non-conference record is putrid.

    Credit is due to the good teams in the Big East. Providence isn't one of them. They don't belong in the NCAA Tournament for beating Pitt any more than Maryland belongs in the tournament for beating UNC and Michigan State.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by RPS View Post
    But I'm not sure that the Committee understands.
    That's the same committee that would be deciding who is "most deserving". I'm not in favor of giving them *more* power by making the criteria more ambiguous.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duvall View Post
    Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland are bubble teams that will just miss the Tournament; they don't belong in the same conversation with St. John's, DePaul, Seton Hall, South Florida and Rutgers. And even Georgia Tech and N.C. State are far superior to Rutgers, South Florida and DePaul - those teams are awful.



    Providence doesn't have a good resume. Their conference record is full of empty wins, and their non-conference record is putrid.

    Credit is due to the good teams in the Big East. Providence isn't one of them. They don't belong in the NCAA Tournament for beating Pitt any more than Maryland belongs in the tournament for beating UNC and Michigan State.
    The RPI ratings seem to back up your assertions.

    I concede the hole. You're one up through one.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by feldspar View Post
    Look, I understand the natural tendency to poo-poo the Big East. And I understand the argument that the Big East is bottom-heavy with bad teams. But Providence has a good resume and the Big East, despite the bottom-heavy teams, was a strong conference this year with teams that just whalloped up on eachother. Let's give credit where credit is due.
    The so-called power conferences already have every advantage -- more money, more exposure, better name recognition and less pressure. Pressure is winning your conference going away and still having to win the tournament to go to the dance. I'm sure that Len Elmore, Tom McMillen and John Lucas can relate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matches View Post
    That's the same committee that would be deciding who is "most deserving". I'm not in favor of giving them *more* power by making the criteria more ambiguous.
    Given the way the Committee works, I don't see such a change as providing more ambiguous criteria.

  15. #15
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    How a team travels - it's fans, not it's big man - and television draw are huge considerations, especially this year. Remember Calhoun's tift with that activist reporter? It's important that these schools make hay when the sun is shinin'.

    In a Utopian tournament, sure, the best 65 teams would get in and we'd see the best basketball. But would a number two seed out west be better for Duke and it's fans than say a number three seed in the south? No, and it wouldn't be good for ticket sales or TV revenue. But these are real issues that must be taken into account by the committee that really have nothing to do with basketball.
    If being a fan were logical, we'd all be Duke fans but some of us were born to a different blue.

  16. #16
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    The results are in and we have a tournament with more BCS teams than ever before. Money rules yet again. A St. Mary's team that played 18 road games, went 19-2 in games in which its best player was healthy (Patty Mills is terrific) and had a stronger RPI than several selected teams (e.g., Arizona and the Terps) gets left out while BCS teams that take few risks (e.g., Missouri played one non-conference road game) aren't punished -- there's no incentive to do so. Seven Big Ten teams are in. Seven. That's disgusting (not to mention boring). And by the way, a non-conference road game (a "guarantee" game) is exceptionally hard to win. Besides the obvious difficulties of playing on the road, such games typically get younger, less experienced referees from the home team's conference, looking to establish themselves within that conference.

    This tournament won't be nearly as fun as it could be. Pity that.

  17. #17
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    With out using specific teams for the purpose of the discussion, I think it's do we want the smaller conference teams in the tourney when they don't win their conference.

    I DO.. watching the mid majors that opening weekend is why we have the opening weekend and what makes it fun. The Cinderellas.. The Princton vs Georgetown games.. Valpo, Butlers..

    Do you want team XYZ Mid Major who went 26-5 and got upset in their conference tourney, or do you want team ABC from a BCS conference who went 8-8 in their conference play and couldn't beat the top of their conference.

    I know Duke, unc-ch , Kansas, U Conn etc can beat any mid major any where,, But when these mid majors try to get a game with a BCS school they are doing so with the teams 5-12,, Those BCS teams want NO part of going to Butler, or VCU, or Old Dominion. When Maryland beat NC Wilminton a couple of years ago on a last second Hail Mary, NC Wilm tried to get Md to play them again the next yr home and away,, Maryland not only said no, they said they didn't even want a 3 for 1.. So don't think for a second that UVa is going to give George Mason a home and home game. Va Tech did so with Old Dominion and that series won't be renewed.. the playing field is not level. I don't blame the BCS schools,, why maybe get beat.
    If Butler is playing unc-ch Sat,, the whole country but chapel hill, will be Butler Bulldog fans.. bad example.. W Ky vs Ill,, I'm pulling for the Hilltoppers lol..

    I love to watch this Thur to see Cinderella bust our bractets lol..

  18. #18
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    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by RPS View Post
    The results are in and we have a tournament with more BCS teams than ever before. Money rules yet again. A St. Mary's team that played 18 road games, went 19-2 in games in which its best player was healthy (Patty Mills is terrific) and had a stronger RPI than several selected teams (e.g., Arizona and the Terps) gets left out while BCS teams that take few risks (e.g., Missouri played one non-conference road game) aren't punished -- there's no incentive to do so. Seven Big Ten teams are in. Seven. That's disgusting (not to mention boring). And by the way, a non-conference road game (a "guarantee" game) is exceptionally hard to win. Besides the obvious difficulties of playing on the road, such games typically get younger, less experienced referees from the home team's conference, looking to establish themselves within that conference.

    This tournament won't be nearly as fun as it could be. Pity that.
    What part of St Mary's not being the same team with a much less than 100% Mills do you not understand? Did you watch its WCC tournament game against Gonzaga? They (and Mills) were terrible and clearly not 1 of the 34 best teams in the country. The added game against a terrible 12-18 E Washington team didn't all of a sudden make Mills better -- the opponent was just so bad that a weakened Mills could score 19 points (on a less than impressive 6-14 shooting). This argument for St Mary's is getting REALLY tiresome.

    How exactly was the Committee supposed to "punish" Missouri? They won the B12T and got the auto bid. Yes, its OOC schedule stunk, but it more than took care of business in conference. You failed to mention Auburn, South Carolina and Penn St -- all BCS schools that had horrible OOC schedules, success within their BCS conferences but did NOT make the NCAAT this year because of their horrible OOC results. If you are a BCS school and you want to play terrible OOC games, then you need to play exceptionally well in conference. Syracuse learned that last year the hard way.

    Can everyone just drop the idea that scheduling BCS teams is so difficult for Mid Majors? Davidson and Gonzaga do it every year and there are a ton of tournaments in Nov and Dec that offer neutral court games against the BCS schools (which I assume is better than road games). St Mary's made the NCAAT last year and knew it was going to have a very good team this year. Despite this, its coach chose to avoid playing any of the BCS schools and paid the price.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    What part of St Mary's not being the same team with a much less than 100% Mills do you not understand?
    Other than the top dozen or so teams, which teams do you think could play at a top level without a player the caliber of Mills?

    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    Did you watch its WCC tournament game against Gonzaga? They (and Mills) were terrible and clearly not 1 of the 34 best teams in the country.
    They were. Did you see them when Mills was healthy?

    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    The added game against a terrible 12-18 E Washington team didn't all of a sudden make Mills better -- the opponent was just so bad that a weakened Mills could score 19 points (on a less than impressive 6-14 shooting). This argument for St Mary's is getting REALLY tiresome.
    Then hit ignore. If you want the BCS schools continuing to squeeze out the little guys (football redux), you've got your wish. Congratulations.

    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    How exactly was the Committee supposed to "punish" Missouri? They won the B12T and got the auto bid.
    Are you suggesting that they wouldn't have gotten in had they lost in the tournament final?

    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    You failed to mention Auburn, South Carolina and Penn St -- all BCS schools that had horrible OOC schedules, success within their BCS conferences but did NOT make the NCAAT this year because of their horrible OOC results.
    You'll forgive me if I don't shed crocodile tears that even more BCS teams didn't get into the tournament. Penn State would have been the eighth Big T'Eleven team in....

    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    Can everyone just drop the idea that scheduling BCS teams is so difficult for Mid Majors?
    Have you ever talked to anyone who has tried to do it?

    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    St Mary's made the NCAAT last year and knew it was going to have a very good team this year. Despite this, its coach chose to avoid playing any of the BCS schools and paid the price.
    If you really think that it was St. Mary's doing the avoiding, I have some marsh land in Florida to sell you....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPS View Post
    Other than the top dozen or so teams, which teams do you think could play at a top level without a player the caliber of Mills?
    You COMPLETELY are missing the point. The Committee's job is to pick the best 34 teams as of March 19. Not in December. Not if they were, but aren't, healthy. Not if martians landed on earth. Are you arguing that St. Mary's was back to 100% with a clearly hurt Mills or are you arguing that St Mary's was one of the top 34 teams 4 months ago (it was) and therefore its current worse stature should ignored?

    Any bubble team that loses by far its best player right before the tournament and shows convincingly that it is a much worse team without such player is not going to get a bid. Do you think Maryland would have gotten a bid if Vasquez broke his leg 2 weeks ago?


    Quote Originally Posted by RPS View Post
    Then hit ignore. If you want the BCS schools continuing to squeeze out the little guys (football redux), you've got your wish. Congratulations.
    Where is the "squeezing" going on? Unlike football, all of the "little guys" have open invites to the NCAAT via their conference tournaments. Did E Tennessee St get squeezed out? What about Morgan St? I usually think the Committee blatantly screws up a few bids but I think that they basically got it right this year.

    Quote Originally Posted by RPS View Post
    Are you suggesting that they wouldn't have gotten in had they lost in the tournament final?
    No, but it sounded like you were. How else is someone to interpret:

    [St Mary's] gets left out while BCS teams that take few risks (e.g., Missouri played one non-conference road game) aren't punished
    What punishment would you referring to with respect to Missouri, which has the #10 RPI?


    Quote Originally Posted by RPS View Post
    You'll forgive me if I don't shed crocodile tears that even more BCS teams didn't get into the tournament. Penn State would have been the eighth Big T'Eleven team in....
    No need to shed any tears. I don't think Penn St should have gotten a bid -- it was above average in the B10 but did zero OOC. That resume properly was not extended a bid. According to your view of the world, it is teams like Penn St that get invited instead of Mid Major teams. I referenced them to show you that even the big bad BCS teams that don't follow the Committee's stated requirements don't get bids.

    Quote Originally Posted by RPS View Post
    If you really think that it was St. Mary's doing the avoiding, I have some marsh land in Florida to sell you....
    Which BCS schools refused to play St. Mary's? I haven't heard the coach mention a single one. Moreover, which early season tournament refused to let St Mary's, a returning NCAAT team from last year, play in it? Was it:

    the Great Alaska Shootout, which included Butler, Western Kentucky and Gonzaga?

    the Chicago Invitational Challenge, which included Dayton, Northern Iowa, Mercer, Texas Southern and Bethune-Cookman?

    the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, which included So Illinois, Arkansas Monticello, Northeastern, IUPUI, Michigan Tech, Miami (Ohio), Weber State, Prairie View A&M, Georgia Southern, Houston and Presbyterian?

    the South Padre Island tournament, which included UNC Wilmington, NCCU, TAMUCC, Jackson St, Kent St and Tulsa?

    Oh yeah. I forgot, tournament organizers passed over returning a NCAAT team with a bona fide star and Olympian for the likes of NCCU, Presbyterian and Bethune-Cookman.

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