Let's get one thing straight: A team's past NCAA Tournament performance has absolutely no bearing on whether it's awarded an at-large berth or where it ends up on the S-curve.
However, history -- meaning past brackets and the profiles of some teams previously overlooked for a bid -- is a very good indicator of the decisions the selection committee might make in the war room leading up to Selection Monday. Several of this week's key questions needed a history lesson:
In your January bracket, you had Indiana State (then 15-2) as a No. 10 seed playing Kentucky at West Lafayette. Now Indiana State is 20-2 and you still have us as a No. 10 seed -- but playing down in Nashville against Vandy. That is a total slap in the face! I understand that the MVC is not a strong conference, but there is nothing that we can do about that. All we do is go out and win game after game, and we do have the best guard in the nation. If you haven't watched a game, let me know and I can send you game film. Please give me some kind of explanation why we get no love!
Terre Haute, Ind.
I don't believe in violence, Travis, so I wouldn't slap anyone in the face. And it's not about love or no love. It's about reality. Vanderbilt is a host school. Someone is going to have to play the Commodores on their home court. My evaluation of the bracket put Indiana State there and, to some degree, you answered your own question. The MVC isn't a strong conference this season, and there is nothing I can do about it, either. But that is how it is. Also, keep in my mind, I'm not out to do anything but try to replicate how I think the bracket would look today based on how the committee does its job.
Since Rutgers is currently ahead of UConn in the Big East, why is UConn getting to stay close to home in Bridgeport, while Rutgers gets shipped out west to Albuquerque? Shouldn't the first-place team in the Big East get to stay closer to home than the runner-up? Is it simply RPI or is it because attendance matters and UConn will draw a bigger crowd in Bridgeport than Rutgers?
This is a great question and you are right, Joe. Rutgers is above UConn on the S-curve (the Nos. 1 to 64 ranking of teams the committee makes prior to placing them on the bracket), and by the selection rules, the higher-ranked team does get geographical consideration. However, for most of the tournament's recent history, schools that draw big crowds have been kept as close to home as possible, making us all wonder how closely that rule was always being followed. Last year became an exception when Tennessee was not sent to the Chattanooga region, but rather to Philadelphia. If that was a shift in philosophy then, yes, expect Rutgers to get the nod over UConn (as it stands right now) when it comes to geography. However, history suggests it's hard to believe that UConn wouldn't be in Bridgeport.
Why isn't Fresno State getting any attention? They have an 18-5 record. I believe that they will win the WAC tournament and they'll cause some damage in the NCAA Tournament. I also believe that they should be a Top-25 team (ranked No. 24).
I'll address the Fresno State question again, since I received a number of e-mails on this and I need to make the point very clear. The Bulldogs have beaten no one (except the win over Louisiana Tech) and the schedule is abysmal. You can't play seven teams outside the RPI Top 200 in your nonconference schedule, and even lose to one (Utah Valley State), and then whine about not being included. An 18-5 mark has much less meaning when it's built against the bottom of Division I. Schedule like a joke and your NCAA credentials will be treated likewise.
Sometimes the best way to read that is how the selection committee has acted in the past. So, I leave you with a history lesson. In 2004, a 28-3 Southwest Missouri State club, the MVC champ, was given a 12-seed and in the first round faced off with Notre Dame in -- drum roll please -- that's right, South Bend, Ind.
1. TCU's most impressive nonleague wins have been against Long Beach State and UT-Arlington. A mediocre conference record to go along with that means the the ladies from Fort Worth, Texas, had better win the Mountain West Tourney. I admire their challenging nonconference schedule, but their lackluster performances in those games proved nothing to me.
2. La. Tech is relying upon its past once again. While being tied with Fresno State in the WAC, the Techsters are ranked (although I know that bears no real significance on team selection for the NCAA Tournament) in the polls, while Fresno State has no votes. La. Tech has truly no outstanding wins, but due to its history, will make the tournament as long as it at least is the WAC regular season co-champ, while Fresno St. probably must win the WAC tournament. There is not much of a difference between these two teams and no one out there is giving Fresno State much credit whatsoever.
3. Texas and Notre Dame have looked very unimpressive of late. My hope is that these teams are not rewarded for their mediocrity.
4. The Atlantic 10 has some teams that could be sleepers this year. Charlotte, George Washington, Temple and Xavier are all capable of causing a few headaches. Just ask Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer about Temple.
Some interesting observations. However, most are hypocritical or inaccurate. You are critical of TCU, but offer no team to replace the Horned Frogs in the field. Also, you identify Charlotte in your list of sleepers -- which makes entirely no sense when combined with the criticism of TCU. Charlotte's best nonleague win is over UNC-Wilmington, a borderline Top-100 opponent. Granted, as it stands now, Charlotte is the A-10 automatic qualifier, but how is one a sleeper when the other doesn't even belong in the tournament when the two have similar holes in the résumé? And remember, the committee proved last year that playing a tough schedule and losing to all or most of the rugged competition was better than not scheduling anyone just to get a few more wins.
The other miss is that there are definite differences between Louisiana Tech and Fresno State, and that history has no
barring on NCAA Tournament selections. Both Fresno's RPI and SOS are significantly lower than those of the Lady Techsters. It isn't even close. Neither has numbers that are truly impressive, but Fresno's aren't even on the radar. That's the exact reason why the Bulldogs will need to win the WAC. Still, Louisiana Tech would at least have a chance as an at-large, but not because of history, past performance or reputation.
I agree that Notre Dame and Texas have been mediocre, which is why Texas is out of my field this time around and the Irish are hanging by a thread. However, Xavier has to do a lot more to even sniff a bid.
Hartford is "unchallenged in the America East" and a 12-seed? Really? The America East is a solid mid-major conference. Only two teams have RPIs in the 200s. Stony Brook is in the 30s. Hartford has won 13 in a row, with an RPI in the low 40s. The Hawks' only two losses this year are at Connecticut and at Miami. If that's the profile of a No. 12 seed, I wouldn't want to be the fifth-seeded team that has to face them.
Exactly what seed should Hartford have? Let's go back to the history books. Two seasons ago, Maine finished 25-6, lost just one game in the conference and won 20 of its last 21. Maine was a 13 seed. That's the best measure of what the committee might do.
What does Middle Tennessee State have to do to get some respect? It has tied for first and has pulled first-round upsets the last two years. It has to be on the bracket. It's ridiculous that you left it out. Everything else is good.
Playing someone of quality would be a start. Georgia and Chattanooga were good opponents, but there is nothing else to point to. Plus, MTSU has lost four games outside the top-100. Any previous upsets do not play any role in this season's selection process. If MTSU wants in the NCAA Tournament, it had better win the Sun Belt tournament. Western Kentucky is the only team in that league with a chance at an at-large bid.
Charlie Creme can be reached at email@example.com.