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Sunday, March 14, 2010
Don't cry for jilted Cinderellas

By Eamonn Brennan

We're officially at that point of the tournament selection process where perceptions are pretty well solidified, and those perceptions carry over into the aftermath of the selection process.

Normally, after the committee seeds the field, there is at least one team -- usually a disrespected mid-major or a visually appealing big-six power -- that doesn't make the tournament, spawning countless protests in the aftermath. We take up the cause, harass the selection committee chairman for a few minutes, admit that seeding the NCAA tournament is difficult, and then move on with the awesomeness that is the next three weeks of our lives. This is the way of the world.

The 2010 NCAA tournament is going to be different, though. There will be -- or there ought not to be -- any such protests. Frankly, if you don't make it to the NCAA tournament, expect no sympathy. You will have earned your fate.

Really, what team on the bubble deserves your energetic advocacy? Illinois? Ugh. Mississippi State? Beat someone and we'll talk. Virginia Tech? Fix your nonconference schedule (and beat Miami). Ole Miss? Pshh. Florida? Twelve losses and limping into the tournament. Cal? Good schedule, few good wins, horrific conference. Rhode Island and Dayton both came up short. South Florida and Seton Hall missed vital wins in the Big East tournament. If UTEP is on the bubble, Memphis and UAB, both losers in the C-USA tournament, have to be out. Almost every bubble team, with the exception of Minnesota and now Mississippi State, have not only not helped their cases, but have actively hurt themselves in the final stretches of proving season. There's a reason everyone keeps calling this bubble soft. It is.

If you really feel the need to get a lather going, William and Mary might be a worthy candidate, but the Tribe's bad losses admittedly make them pretty easy to dismiss. Utah State is a lock in Lunardi's latest bracket, but if the Aggies fail to get in, they'd deserve the benefits of your populist angst.

Other than that, the 2010 NCAA tournament bubble is rife by teams that should accept their tournament fate not with euphoria or resentment but with meek, mumbling nods to the affirmative. Will we find a way to complain about at least one scorned team later today? Sure. We like to complain, after all. But should we? Not for these teams. Not this year.