Just one year after finally getting it right â€¦
Just one year after TV talking heads Billy Packer and Jim Nantz sat in front of a national audience whining like 2-year-olds wanting a pacifier because BCS conferences didnâ€™t get enough teams in the menâ€™s basketball tournament â€¦
Just one year after the NCAA Menâ€™s Basketball Tournament Selection Committee finally showed some respect for the so-called â€œmid-majorâ€ conferences â€¦
They screwed it up â€¦ again.
Purdue and Illinois are two of the most undeserving teams from a BCS conference to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament since the field expanded to 65 teams. A number of teams — both BCS schools and mid-majors — were more deserving of those bids than the Boilermakers and the Illini.
Letâ€™s take a look:
Purdue (21-11, 9-7 in the Big Ten): Among Purdueâ€™s non-conference victories are nine over teams that arenâ€™t playing in the NCAA. The two tournament-bound teams the Boilers beat are Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Virginia of the Big East. The latter game was played at Purdue. This is important. But more on that in a minute.
Purdue played four non-conference games on the road, losing three, including at Indiana State, which finished dead last in the Missouri Valley Conference.
So, the only feather in Purdueâ€™s cap before the Big Ten season began was a home victory over Virginia.
During the Big Ten season, Purdue managed to defeat Michigan State and Indiana at home. Thatâ€™s it. No victories over Wisconsin or Ohio State, the top teams in the conference. No road victories over anyone other than bottom feeders. Purdue also lost at 9-22 Minnesota. Very underwhelming.
Illinois (23-11, 9-7 in the Big Ten): Illinoisâ€™ non-conference schedule doesnâ€™t look all that bad because it posted a 4-1 record against mid-majors that qualified for the tournament. Of course, those four are Jackson State (16 seed), Florida A&M (play-in game), Miami (Ohio) (14 seed) and Belmont (15 seed). Ooh, thatâ€™s impressive. The one really good mid-major the Illini faced was Xavier; Illinois lost.
Illinois also racked up eight more victories over non-NCAA tourney teams and managed to lose both of its non-conference games against BCS tournament teams — Arizona and Maryland.
During the conference portion of its schedule, Illinois defeated Michigan State and Indiana at home. No victory over Wisconsin. No triumph over Ohio State. No road victories over anyone of note. The only other bright spot here is Illinois avoided any embarrassing losses. In five tries the Illini racked up five victories over Northwestern, Minnesota and Penn State. I can see how this made a favorable impression on the selection committee.
Then the Illini upset Indiana in the Big Ten tournament.
In summary, Illinois gets in the NCAA tournament because it has two wins over seventh-seeded Indiana and one win over ninth-seeded Michigan State.
Purdue gets in because it beat IU, Michigan State and a No. 4 seed, Virginia (all at home).
Now, just to prove this isnâ€™t all about the â€œPowerâ€ conferences vs. the mid-major conferences, Iâ€™m going to suggest that a third team — this time a non-BCS school — doesnâ€™t deserve its bid.
Brigham Young (25-8, 13-3 Mountain West): Honestly, outside of the conference the best team BYU defeated was Oral Roberts. Also, BYU lost two of three against Mountain West conference champ UNLV. There are no quality victories anywhere. No road wins of note. No victories over BCS schools. Nothing. I still canâ€™t believe this team was ranked in the Top 25 this season.
So, I have identified three undeserving teams who received bids. Hereâ€™s three who should have:
Appalachian State (25-7, 15-3 Southern Conference): Hereâ€™s all you need to know about Appalachian State: The Mountaineers won on the road at both Vanderbilt (No. 6 seed) and Virginia. Thatâ€™s more impressive than anything Purdue, Illinois and BYU accomplished.
Drexel (23-8, 13-5 Colonial): Much already has been debated about Drexel. All I will say is winning at Villanova and Syracuse speaks much louder than beating Virginia, IU or Michigan State at home.
Missouri State (22-10, 12-6 Missouri Valley): There are two things you need to know about the Bears.
1. Missouri State 66, Wisconsin 64. Purdue couldnâ€™t do it. Illinois couldnâ€™t do it.
2. Purdue loses to Indiana State. Missouri State beats the Sycamores twice: once by 20 and once by 30.
One final irritation, thanks to the selection committee: I prefer not to see mid-majors facing other mid-majors in the first round.
Butler paired with Old Dominion, Nevada-Creighton, BYU-Xavier arenâ€™t necessary.
Butler (5 seed) could be facing No. 12 Arkansas, instead. No. 12 Old Dominion could be facing No. 5 USC. No. 9 Xavier-No. 8 Kentucky would be a better matchup. No. 7 Nevada and No. 10 Texas Tech or No. 10 Creighton vs. No. 7 Boston College.
But, what would happen if all those mid-majors beat their BCS opponents?
More whining for sure.