Monday, March 17, 2008

Sure, it's been a disappointing year, but...

a #8 seed? Really? And the lowest #8 seed?
That means the committee thinks that Indiana is the #32 team in the nation.

There's more research, data, and open conversations available for NCAA fans about Selection Sunday than ever before. And looking it over beforehand, I figured even though Indiana hadn't finished strong, the last couple of losses were very close (a Laettner-worthy miracle shot took down IU in the last game) and were from teams fighting for their postseason lives while IU didn't have as much to play for. I figured IU the top #7 seed as the absolute worst case scenario. A #6 seed seemed likely, I thought, but I was crossing my fingers for a "body of work" #5. I gotta believe that this is a punishment against IU for Sampson's violations and for not self-imposing a postseason ban. Which leads me to believe the NCAA is going to be fairly nasty in June. And IU didn't get bumped for the mid-majors, as the only mid-major teams above us were Xavier at #3 (ok), Drake at #5 (ok), and Butler & Gonzaga at #7 (and they got shafted, too), while UNLV and BYU were also #8 seeds. I can see once you place IU as a #8, moving them against UNC so the announcers can talk about Dakich's shut-down of MJ almost 25 years ago. But seriously, how do you drop IU to #8?

Maybe it isn't entirely machiavellian, as I don't recall a worse job done by the NCAA committee. And the explanations really seemed like they were using inconsistent criteria. Villanova over Illinois State? Arizona over Arizona State? Oregon over UMass? Butler as a #7 seed? Maybe it's just incompetence. Maybe it was a deliberate jab at Joey Lunardi, who previously has been spookily prescient about the process. But Lunardi had IU as a #5 seed, which fits with the CBS RPI (#20), Ken Pomeroy's ratings (#19), Pomeroy's RPI #23, Jeff Sagarin (#19), while Kyle Whelliston's Basketball State rated as #9 in the country and at #18 in their RPI. Maybe this was committee chairman Tom O'Connor getting drunk and loudly yelling, "Yoo don' know meee!"

There are two ways this can go. The IU team can get down and think, here's another unfair turn against us (no, I'm not saying I think Kelvin's dismissal was unfair, but the young men writing KS on their shoes certainly do), and come out flat and get spanked by Arkansas. Or, as I hope, the Hoosier team takes this one personally, and plays Arkansas and then UNC as if every single one of them was named Tom O'Connor. It'd be a tough road to get to the Sweet Sixteen now, as I doubt DJ will get many calls against Hansbrough, but I'd like to see this team play scrappy and make other teams go above and beyond to beat them.

It's us against the world, so Go Hoosiers!


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