Monday, March 14, 2011
Naturally, when my colleagues and I emerged from our battered sedan after a 350-mile journey Sunday evening, we didn’t expect to be greeted with bad news.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, but once again in it’s infinite wisdom, the NCAA Tournament selection committee decided Virginia Tech just wasn’t good enough to be invited to it’s “dance”.
“Keep in mind there’s 10 committee members, and we all have different criteria,” tournament selection committee chairman Gene Smith said recently.
At best, a curious statement from a man chairing a committee that claims to have 15 quantifiable criteria they look at each season.
If I can be so bold as to read into that statement, I think he meant to say that each member can approach and interpret the criteria in a different way. Still, that doesn’t sit well with me.
Why isn’t there a clearer set of criteria? Why can’t we have any consistency in what the committee values most? One season it’s how you finished the year, others it’s your team’s strength of schedule or their “body of work”.
There’s enough hyperbole floating around the selection process to burst a dozen bubbles, but not nearly enough concrete answers.
As is stands now, the NCAA Tournament selection committee is nothing more than a Politburo, secretly meeting behind closed doors deciding the fate of everyone in the land.
Much like the Soviet system where holding a government office wasn’t a requirement for leadership on that committee, supreme basketball knowledge isn’t a prerequisite for appointment by the NCAA.
The committee is made up of athletic directors and conference commissioners representative of the top programs as well as the “lower-tier” schools from smaller conferences, but at best, any given year only half the members have some kind of significant basketball experience.
It just doesn’t feel right to me. For many years, I’ve felt that the NCAA Tournament is one of the most democratic way to decide a champion in sports.
Every team, at least in theory, has a say in who’s crowned No. 1. If you win, you are allowed to continue regardless of what anyone says. That is of course if you’re in it to begin with.
And so, I won’t fill out a bracket for myself this season. I’ll make picks for our dog Remus based on which mascot he prefers and then I’ll never look at them again.
I’ll avoid the bars and quickly change the topic of conversation whenever it comes around to the “Big Dance” regardless of whom I’m talking to.
The television set will be disappointedly set to ESPNU where I’ll closely follow the Hokie Invitiational (NIT) with as much anticipation as I can muster, and then once our season is over, I’ll lock myself in my room until no one mentions basketball again.
Or perhaps, I’ll just move to Russia.