“March Madness” is a nationwide phenomenon. Millions upon millions of people tune in to watch the games each year. The one thing that brings me back, along with the rest of America, are the upsets. The Cinderella stories, the giant killers, whatever you want to call them. But with that being said, it’s only fair to have the top 68 teams in the tournament. That’s the whole point of the tournament, right? Well, the NCAA at least makes you think the best teams get in; that’s why they have the conference tournaments, after all. But do you think a 14-19 Holy Cross team is more deserving than a 17-15 Lehigh team? Do you think a 23-12 Green Bay team is more deserving than a 26-6 Valparaiso team? Me neither.
It’s no secret, the Monmouth Hawks got snubbed, scrubbed, hosed, washed and thrown out by the selection committee. Now, no hard feelings Tulsa, i’m sure you have a beautiful city and I would love to visit someday, but how in the world did your basketball team make the field of 68? Getting annihilated in your conference tournament, losing to South Carolina, a bubble team who did not make it, earlier in the year. Monmouth won seven more games (27-7) compared to Tulsa. Now, you may say, “Jim, a teams record isn’t everything.” Very true, but let us look past that record. Monmouth lost in their conference tournament final by three points, instead of losing by 28 in their first game. Monmouth had the most difficult non-conference schedule in the MAAC, by far. And the real tiebreaker here? The road wins. Tulsa had 6 total road wins this season, compare that to the 13 of Monmouth. And the Hawks got left out.
Tulsa wasn’t the only team that got in for reasons that I can’t explain. Syracuse, Wichita State, Vanderbilt and many of the other at-large teams that got into the field could’ve easily been counted out. And then, of course, the conference tournament winners. I honestly think that the NCAA needs to wipe out the conference tournaments completely. That way, the best teams get in, and it saves me from writing more rants like this. In fact, why not extend the field? That would just make the tournament more riveting instead of small conference teams killing each other. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the money. Meaning the NCAA will never take my ideas into consideration. Man, are they missing out or what?!
Oh, I almost forgot, Iona is actually playing in the NCAA tournament. The #13 seeded Gaels will take on the #4 seeded Iowa State Cyclones on Thursday at 2:00 ET. Iona has won 12 out of their last 13, not to mention, they stormed through the MAAC Tournament. And after watching them play live as they came down the stretch, the Gaels have every reason to be confident heading into this game. Both teams struggle in the same department; which is defense. Meaning the team that shoots better will most likely win. This was the dream 1st round scenario if you are an Iona fan. It definitely could go either way, but A.J. English has impressed me more and more every game this season. The Gaels will pull off the opening round shocker.
Am I doing a bracket this year? That’s the stupidest question you may or may not have been wanting to ask me, reader. Of course I am. The rest of the 518 Sports team is joining in, too. So since you like wasting my time and asking me these questions, I insist you join our ESPN “Tournament Challenge” group. Click here to join our bracket group. What’s in it for the winner? …Dignity and respect is never a bad thing, you know.