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Notably absent: Tournament snubs

Notably absent: Tournament snubs

Notably absent: Tournament snubs
Sun, Mar 11, 2007
By Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- That howling sound coming from the East Coast was the Drexel and Syracuse fans, livid their teams had been snubbed. You can be sure Kansas State coach Bob Huggins, too, had a choice word for the NCAA tournament selection committee.

Texas A&M had about two seconds to celebrate its No. 3 seed before being hit with the news they would play Louisville in the second round. In Lexington, Ky., no less. Texas A&M opened as 13 1/2-point favorites against Pennsylvania in Round 1 on

All those mid-majors who thought they'd finally proven their worth last year, thanks for playing, but sorry.

Legitimate gripes, every single one of them. Look over the rest of the NCAA tournament field, and you'll probably find a few more. But for everyone crabbing, complaining and crying Sunday, here's a question: What would you have done differently?

Think carefully before you answer, because the team you leave out thinks it has just as much right to be in the field of 65 as the next guy.

''We're all fallible,'' said Gary Walters, chairman of the selection committee. ''If we change the composition of people that are in that room, it wouldn't surprise me if one group would look at teams slightly differently than another. It would be the height of arrogance for me to believe we are 100 percent right in our selection.

''It's painful for us to have to choose, really painful, between teams that are so close.''

Contrary to what some are thinking right about now, Walters and the other nine members of his committee didn't wing it when making their picks. There wasn't a massive dartboard with the names of the at-large possibilities. They don't pick out of a hat to decide who gets those last precious spots. There was no Ouija board anywhere in sight.

''I'm confused on what the committee really looks at,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said, ''and I'm on those committees.''

Believe it or not, there really is a method to March Madness.

The selection committee looked at obvious things, like won-loss record, strength of schedule and injuries. But when Walters rattles off Drexel's record against the top teams in its conference, or the competitive differences between the two Big 12 divisions you start to wonder if the committee might have a touch of OCD.

''Once you get past the first four lines, it's tough to slip a piece of paper between those teams,'' Walters said, using a line echoed by almost every committee member. ''A lot of these teams look like clones of each other.''

To fans, though, their teams are special, and their inclusion should have been a no-brainer. Take Syracuse, for example. All the Orange did was go 22-10 and finish fifth in one of the nation's toughest conferences. They handed Georgetown its only loss in the last two months. They won six of their last eight games.

It wasn't good enough.

Ditto for Drexel, which won 13 games on the road. Thirteen! There are teams that don't do that over three seasons, let alone one. Two of those wins were at Syracuse and Villanova.

After years of being mediocre or worse, Huggins' Wildcats went 22-11, beat Texas Tech and won at Texas. Their reward? The NIT.

''It's a democracy in there, and the First Amendment is alive and well,'' said Mike Slive, Southeastern Conference commissioner, of the deliberations. ''You're always thinking about whether your decision was the right one. But the important thing is we do it over a series of days.

''Reasonable people can differ. But I feel comfortable with the end result.''

He better be, considering it's an eight-month process that lasts as long as the season. Each committee member is assigned different conferences to monitor throughout the year, and they're expected to be up on everything from who's hurt to which team is on a hot streak. They watch enough games to render Dick Vitale speechless.

''I'll bet I've seen, on TV, close to 180 games,'' said Tom O'Connor, the athletic director at George Mason. ''And I saw 44 in person.''

''The next morning, I'm poring over the scores. What does this mean? What doesn't this mean?'' added Laing Kennedy, the Kent State athletic director.

The time spent on prep work pales in comparison to this week's marathon. They arrived here Tuesday. Aside from dinner at an Italian restaurant Wednesday night, they spent the entire week hidden away on the 15th floor of the downtown Westin.

Slive recalls getting out for one 45-minute walk. He took a couple turns on the treadmill, too. For the most part, though, the committee members were watching basketball, talking about the teams they were considering or reading volumes of information. Even meals were spent in front of TVs.

That's little consolation to those young men who spent Sunday night wondering what they did wrong and why they weren't good enough. Because, ultimately, that's what the committee was deciding: Who was good enough, who wasn't.

''It's a hard process,'' O'Connor said. ''The teams that do not get into the tournament, you feel for the student-athletes. ... But you have to put that aside.''

Because this isn't an exact science, and it's not a perfect world. (We still have the BCS, don't we?) Somebody will always be disappointed. Harsh as it might be, it's simply part of the game.

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Re: Notably absent: Tournament snubs

Syracuse was robbed IMO  sad

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Re: Notably absent: Tournament snubs

UConn left out for first time since '87
Mon, Mar 12, 2007
By Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut wasn't invited Sunday to either the NCAA or the NIT tournament, the first time since 1987 that the Huskies will not be part of college basketball's postseason.

''It was an incredible run,'' UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.

Playing with nine first-year players and no juniors or seniors, UConn (17-13) won its first 11 games, rising to No. 12 in the nation against overmatched opponents including Central Arkansas, Texas Southern and Coppin State.

But the run ended when the Big East season began. The Huskies lost 13 of their final 19, went 6-10 in conference play, barely made the Big East tournament as the No. 12 seed, and lost in the opening game to Syracuse.

The Huskies averaged just 64 points against Big East opponents.

''When it's all said and done, as good of kids as they were, and so on, we never truly got it,'' Calhoun said. ''We never got what it was about, what college basketball was about. That's going to take leadership. That's going to take some kids growing up.''

Calhoun had to replace his top six scorers from a year ago, when the Huskies went 30-4 and lost in the NCAA regional finals. Four of those players: Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong and Marcus Williams are now in the NBA.

''We could have cried and just said, 'We just got absolutely ransacked with players,''' Calhoun said. ''We took the other approach. Why not us? We're young, we've got legs, we'll get better. The biggest thing, we got better, we just didn't get as good as I thought we could.''

Calhoun said he takes a bit of solace in the fact that four of his former assistants - Howie Dickenman at Central Connecticut, Virginia's Dave Leitao, George Washington's Karl Hobbs and Penn's Glen Miller - coached their teams into the NCAA tournament.

But come Thursday, while those coaches are beginning postseason play, the Huskies will start their offseason conditioning program.

''We'll be back next year, watching the (NCAA selection) show, and hopefully finding out where we are going,'' Calhoun said.

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