It's March and the time has once again come for the most exciting time in College Basketball; March Madness. The tournament began Tuesday with the 'last four in' games and today marked the beginning of bracket play. Kentucky is the overall #1 seed and the overwhelming favorite to take the title. But there are 63 other teams that have plenty to say about that.
With all the talking heads and bracketology going on it can be hard to make sense of it all. Especially if you're like me and want to stay on top of everything from start to finish. Everyone on ESPN, CBS, and Fox Sports likes to think they have all the answers; and they'll tell you they do. For example, today Gonzaga and West Virginia played. Gonzaga was the higher seed but all the "experts" predicted a West Virginia win. With 10 minutes left to go the Zags are throttling WVU 59-34. Guess they might be a little pissed off. My point is; all those pundits who act like they know everything about college basketball, or any sport for that matter, actually don't know anymore than the regular, everyday fan. ESPN is becoming more and more like TMZ everyday and it's embarrassing. I never thought that sensationalism in media would reach the sports world. Unfortunately I've been proven wrong. For example, when the Penn State scandal broke that's all that they talked about. Not minimizing what happened but if people wanted to know the kind of details that ESPN was giving out they could have watched CNN or any of the actual news networks. And all they wanted to do was demonize Joe Paterno. The way they were talking someone ignorant of the situation would have thought Coach Paterno had done what Jerry Sandusky allegedly did(innocent till proven guilty). I watch ESPN because I want to hear about SPORTS news and highlights, not to hear about what happened at Jerry Sandusky's court date. Like I said if I wanted to know that I would have watched CNN. As soon as Joe Paterno died ESPN did a complete 180, they started talking about how great of a person he was and how he was a molder of men. It was despicable. They have no honor in their journalism anymore. Joe Paterno died of old age and lung cancer. But I believe that more than anything, he died of a broken heart. And ESPN is just as much to blame for that as the Penn State board of trustees and Jerry Sandusky.
As popular as the NCAA Tournament is the selection process is shrouded in mystery. It's almost the equivalent of 33rd degree(highest rank you can get in the order) Free Masons meeting in secret deep within the confines of their headquarters. The selection committee gets together every year on selection Sunday and sets the brackets. No one knows whose on the committee or the mindset they have when setting up the brackets. The only thing we have to go on is the RPI ratings. RPI is a mathematical way the NCAA has came up with to rank basketball teams. This is the formula: RPI = (WP * 0.25) + (OWP * 0.50) + (OOWP * 0.25). WP means winning percentage. OWP is opponents winning percentage. OOWP is opponent's opponents winning percentage. See how confusing that can be? And every year the selection committee always snubs a number of mid-major team(small school ex. Jacksonville State) for power conference teams with a lower RPI rating than the mid-major school. It is becoming increasingly more like the BCS in college football where the little guys aren't on the same level in the committees eyes as the bigger schools. This year Marshall, Drexel, and Middle Tennessee State were denied a spot in the tournament in favor of Texas, Purdue, and West Virginia.The three mid-majors had higher RPI ratings than the 3 power conference teams. But still had to settle for a spot in the NIT or the '2nd best' tournament. In spite of the fact that in recent years mid-majors have had considerable success in the tournament. Last year 2 mid major schools made it to the final four( Virginia Commonwealth and Butler) and 1 of them made it to the national championship(Butler). There's a very good chance this year that another mid-major will advance to the final four. Murray State has the best chance; they have the best record in the 64 team field coming in at 30-1. In spite of that they only got a 6 seed. And there road to the final four is going to be very difficult, much harder than the golden child Kentucky's. The committee seems Hell bent to keep the mid-majors out of the final four.
There are always going to be little guys and big guys in sports. I understand that. But when the little guys show time and time again they are just as good and sometimes better than the big boys and they are still being excluded; seems very strange to me.