Soon, on the ESPN networks, as the NCAA tournament approaches, a fun segment will be reintroduced, featuring blind resumes. That’s where the viewer is presented tournament resumes of several anonymous teams, and gets to be an unofficial member of the selection committee in choosing who goes to the big dance.
Let’s play the game here. We’ll call our school with the blind resume, Team X.
Team X has a record of 20-4 and leads it conference. Team X has an rpi of 61, down 7 spots over the weekend despite two road wins. Team X has losses to Hofstra and Youngstown State, with RPI’s over 100, but has beaten then-No. 7 Vanderbilt (RPI: 28) on the road.
And, on the road is where Team X has a record of 11-2, an 84% winning percentage.
That’s one of the best in the country.
The 11 wins on the road by Team X? The best in the country.
What do you think, in or out?
Jimmy Dykes of ESPN: in.
David Kaplan of ESPNU: in.
Jon LeCrone, Horizon League Commissioner: in.
John Parry, Cleveland State Athletic Director: in.
Not in as in most likely to win its conference tournament for the automatic bid.
But in, as an at-large team.
The catch phrase when describing Team X: it passes the eye test as a tourney team.
If you follow the Horizon League, you don’t need to take off the blind fold to know that Cleveland State is our team x here.
Of course, we’ve been conditioned to hedge our opinions, particularly with mid –majors, adding, that yes, Cleveland State is in, but, likely needs to run the table until the League championship.
What a shame. A team with the 15th best won-lost percentage in the country and the nation’s 11th best scoring defense, with so little margin for error.
Or, so we think. LeCrone, a former NCAA selection committee member, cautioned the other night that committee members and fans/coaches/players don’t often think alike.
Fellow mid-major VCU serves as an example. Last year, the Rams lost five of their last eight games before selection Sunday. They had regular season losses to teams with RPI’s of 145, 164 and 223.
Yet, the NCAA selection committee selected them as at-large team.
Media outrage, led by Jay Bilas of ESPN, followed. The Rams, taking the public flogging as an insult, responded with wins over five teams from power six conferences: USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas.
Which led them to the Final Four.
It’s been said the committee has a short memory, and judges each season independent of any other. But, considering that this group was more than vindicated with VCU’s magic carpet ride to Houston last year, let’s hope it remembers that big things continue to come in mid-major packages. Remember Butler?
Kevin O’Connor, Milwaukee’s Associate Athletic Director of Communications, a big fan of his own team, but an admirer of Cleveland State, said it best: “I can guarantee you there are a number of teams across the country that do not want to face Cleveland State in the tournament.”
Not necessarily criteria for selection by the committee, but reason good enough to include the Vikings as an at-large.
As for me, Cleveland State, in or out? Why in, of course.
Tags: Cleveland State - Men's Basketball