I am and always will be a sports purist. I believe the true home-run king will always be Roger Maris. I believe smaller goalie pads makes for great hockey and I believe the NCAA tournament committee is ruining “amateur” athletics by paying political favor to the traditional national collegiate power houses for yet another year.
It is a crying shame to watch people like Joe Lunardi and others hack away at the dreams of young men across the country while they are still breathing. It is barbaric, ruthless, and does not subscribe to the spirit of competition. It is the Joe Lunardis in this world who are too good to take part in an active dialog with fans and analysts and sit on a propped up fallacious seat of high power campaigning for the large conferences (Big East, SEC, ACC, Big10, PAC12, and Big12) on for pay access sites like the aptly corrupt named the “insider”.
As I write this right now, the University of Pennsylvania Quakers are playing for a piece of the Ivy League title, which, if won tonight will put the Quakers and the Harvard Crimson head to head this week for possession of an auto-bid to the NCAA tournament. If the once multi-week nationally ranked Harvard Crimson were to lose this hypothetical playoff match up most analyst have Coach Tommy Amaker and junior Brandyn Curry on the bubble waiting for a bid from the less celebrated NIT, or worse, while Penn (19-11) prances their way to the big dance (a place that they and fellow nineteen win team the UConn Huskies) where they do not merit belonging in.
Ironically, though, the speculators have Calhoun’s Huskies gaining an at large bid sin a tournament victory this year having barely being able to scrap to a respectable Big East finish. With seven losses, the Iona Gaels of New Rochelle are out of every bracket after being seeded as high as an 11 seed and having an RPI ranking of 43; their ranking having dropped daily despite their conference tournament being complete for almost 48 hours. Do not get me started on that statistical farce of a system. Senior and international Brazilian guard Scott Machado a lock to be drafted first or second round by New Orleans or Dallas will not see the dance after losing their semi-final game Saturday.
Iona is the nation’s top scoring team, averaging 83.3 points per game. The Gaels are also a top dishing team in the nation with 19.3 assists per game (beat that LINSANITY!) and the second team overall in field goal percentage knocking down 1 of every 2 shots! They went 25 and 7 this season, losing only three times in conference play. If Momo Jones, Scott Machado and Senior Mike Glover do not make it to the dance, I say hang the selection committee by their toes just like Mussolini, because they are stealing an opportunity to watch some smart, fast basketball — Metro Atlantic style.
Here is another sleeper team Staten Island, New York’s very own Wagner. The Northeast Conference’s second place team went 25-6 this year. If you put their blind resume up against Colorado State, who analysts are advancing to the tournament, I guarantee that you would find yourself baffled. Coaches Bobby Hurley and Danny Hurley, both shooting and ball handling masters in their own right, have built a 20+ win season. I love scrappy play, and I loathe watching these “tiny” conferences play top-notch ball under the radar while NBA feeder schools who can’t graduate a player garnishes all the attention.
California, Washington, Northwestern, Seton Hall and Xavier are still on the bubble, while some have the Rick Majerus led Saint Louis University Billikens working their way out of the tournament if they do not produce two more wins to what stands currently as a 24 win season! That’s right sports fans, a team that has beat early contenders Oklahoma, Boston College, Villanova, Dayton, Saint Joe’s, swept Xavier and stomped at large hopeful Washington can fall out of favor with the all mighty OZ.
Here are my other four in who have fallen completely off the radar based off of wins and final placement in their conference standings.
George Mason University and first team Colonial Conference star, graduating senior, and lock for the NBA Ryan Pearson are out of the big dance. I say they are in because they are electrifying to watch on the internet and can do a lot of damage. As can their Colonial rivals Old Dominion University. Their records respectfully are 24-9 and 20-13. That’s right I have 4 colonial teams in my tournament bracket! Here is my replacement for Northwestern, Texas — the long horns are playing .500 basketball in conference play but have an overall record of 19-12. They have played Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa State and Kansas State. You come out playing 50/50 ball against these squads and you have earned your way in. Lastly I have to take a stab at my beloved Atlantic 10 conference that does not deserve 3 teams in unless the tournament 1 or 2 seeds lose (Temple and Saint Louis).
Xavier is a dark-horse, after their brawl against Cincinnati they have not been able to impress me one bit. They lose at home they lose on the road they were swept in a two game series against Saint Louis. If I had one other big conference team, as I have run through qualified “tiny” schools, it would have to be the North Carolina Wolf Pack. While they have had a poor record against the nation’s top 25 they’re overall rankings stand as such 48th in scoring, 9-7 conference, 20-11 overall, 42nd in rebounds, 13th in assist and 63rd in field goal percentage. Yeah that’s right I said it.
Put the resumes in front of you and make your own tournament bracket. 68 teams, 68 dreams and a million ways for the analysts to destroy them. But if they cleansed their mind of all the ratings hoopla and concentrated on sport and competition in its purest form, we would see conferences that are relatively unknown to your average fan receiving multiple bids every year. In the end, these young men, these kids should be rewarded for their accomplishments. They go to school, they play hard, ignoring injuries in the name of competition for the love of a pastime and that heart should not be ignored because they are not national names.
This was originally posted on Bomble.net.
Editors Note: Harvard won the Ivy outright. Thank you to @ICGaels for your retweets, @IonaGuyF, @Bomble and all my friends for sharing this article.