For once, the NCAA selection committee got it right. Everyone in this year’s tournament field belongs. Nobody left on the outside looking in has a sure-fire argument as to why they are more deserving than anyone else.
But that doesn’t mean the selection committee tossed a perfect game. More like an A.J. Burnett no-hitter. Being the NCAA selection committee, they had to screw something up — and as history indicates, there’s a good chance that the Butler Bulldogs will be the recipient of that screwing.
In 2002, Butler’s 23-5 record wasn’t good enough to make the field of 65, which caused Dick Vitale to scream a lot. This year, the 12th-ranked team in the nation — which returns practically everybody from last year’s Sweet 16 team — received mad respect for its 29-3 record by earning a No. 7 seed in the East region. The big prize includes a trip to face No. 10 seed South Alabama in Alabama, and then No. 2 Tennessee should they escape that trap.
Bravo, committee. You really did a super job on that one. Butler lost three games by a combined total of 12 points. Granted, the Horizon League isn’t the best conference by any stretch of the imagination. But it is a whole lot more competitive than it used to be — so I figured, hey, Butler will probably land a 5 seed.
What should really get the goat of any Butler fan is the fact that their team is seeded below Oklahoma. The No. 6 Sooners have had many illustrious moments this year, including a home loss to Stephen F. Austin (yes, the Lumberjacks won the Southland regular-season title, but you don’t lose to them at home if you are a 6 seed or anything else better than a 10 seed), a 14-point loss at Colorado, an 18-point loss at Nebraska and a season-ending 28-point drubbing at the hands of Texas in the Big 12 Tournament.
Huh? What the hell has this team done that makes them worthy of a better seed than Butler? And for that matter, what makes them worthy of a better seed than Indiana, which also got shafted with an 8 seed and a possible second-round matchup with North Carolina? As OU forward Taylor Griffin noted in an Associated Press story, “I think a lot of us were expecting seventh or eighth seeds. For a team that a couple weeks ago we were talking about being on the bubble to have a sixth seed, that’s incredible.”
I’ll say. As my friend Thporth noted, “No school whose fans care more about spring football than an NCAA tournament game deserves a good seed.”
Maybe the NCAA, which is based in Indianapolis, was trying so hard to dispel any notions of favoritism that they managed to screw over the two tourney entrants closest to their headquarters. I just hope Butler and IU enter March Madness with enough anger to prove they deserved better.