As any frequent reader of The Badger Herald shout-outs is well aware, people from Wisconsin often show quite a bit of disdain to people from the East Coast. It’s just natural. With their Uggs, skintight leggings and the uncanny ability to lose their BlackBerry Storms after a weekend partying at the frat house (OMG Daddy is going to kill me), people from the coast have a lot of things — for better or for worse — Wisconsinites do not.
Well there is one more thing to add to that list: The East Coast has good basketball. I mean really freaking good basketball.
For college hoops fans, this has been drilled into our brain all season long. The Big East Conference has the best teams at the top. The Big East has the best depth. If the Big East were a Star Wars movie, it would be “The Empire Strikes Back” to everyone else’s “The Phantom Menace.”
Despite all the hyperbole being thrown around, the national media has blundered in a way it has never done before with a major story.
The Big East is still underrated.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. Rankings and recognition are just something for fans to talk, brag and complain about. Ask any coach. They would rather win quietly in the shadows than have to deal with the everyday pressure that comes from being No. 1 (See: UCONN Pitt, UNC, Duke and Wake Forest playing hot potato with the AP’s top ranking).
But perception eventually becomes reality. And with Selection Sunday merely 11 days away, some teams are getting screwed.
The teams at the top of that list? Georgetown and Notre Dame.
The teams benefiting from the Fighting Irish and Hoyas getting screwed over? Any team that earns an at-large bid from the SEC.
Based off ESPN’s resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi — who is extraordinarily accurate at projecting the field — both Notre Dame and Georgetown are out, and they aren’t even in the top eight of programs that are missing. Instead, we will be treated to the likes of Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina.
Seriously, this supposed “major conference” is a one-bid league, with only LSU being a worthy team. Maybe two bids if one of the other teams makes a run in the conference tournament (and it serves them right, dominating college football these past three years).
On the surface, this may appear to be a ludicrous position to take. The Hoyas have lost 12 games this year, and the Fighting Irish have dropped 13 contests. Any other year, I would agree — when your loss column has a number in the teens, you can dance in the NIT.
But this year the Big East is special. And this year the SEC sucks worse than midterms the Friday before spring break.
The goal of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is to select the 34 best teams for the at-large bids. Not the teams with the most wins in a major conference, but the 34 best teams.
There are several factors to consider when determining who is worthy to be welcomed to the Madness. The first, and most obvious, is RPI. Here, Georgetown sits pretty. With the toughest ranked schedule in the entire nation, the Hoya’s are at No. 40 in RPI, above both South Carolina and Kentucky (in all fairness, Notre Dame is all the way down at No. 73). The SEC ranks last among BCS conferences at No. 6 in RPI and has only one team ranked in the top 25.
Although I normally have little beef with the selections, there is one crucial factor the committee ignores that will leave Georgetown and Notre Dame on the outside looking in: the eye test.
Sometimes in sports, a gut reaction and actually watching the team will tell you more than stats ever can. And watching the Hoyas beat Memphis, Syracuse, Connecticut and Villanova tells me they can compete with any team in the nation. Kentucky’s marquee wins over West Virginia and a sweep of Tennessee don’t quite match up.
Unfortunately, the committee will make the issue too complicated when it is actually pretty simple. The SEC is historically bad. The Big East is freakishly good. Any gambling man would take Georgetown and Notre Dame to beat any SEC team outside of LSU.
But we aren’t going to see that come tournament time. Instead, we will be treated to first round exits by the undeserving SEC at-large teams.
Apparently the East Coast bias isn’t limited to just Wisconsin.
Michael is a junior majoring in journalism. Think he doesn’t give the SEC enough credit? Are there other teams that are going to get snubbed and you think they should make the tournament? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.