Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NCAA Bracket Rants: Did MTSU and St. Mary's Deserve Bids

by John Huffstetler

Did MTSU, St. Mary's, LaSalle, and Boise St. Deserve Bids?

MTSU- MTSU did not deserve to receive a bid. The Blue Raiders dominated the Sun Belt this season losing just two games at a decent Arkanasas St. team in OT and in the conference tourney to FIU. The Sun Belt, however, had a down year with a strong Denver team leaving to join the WAC. There were other teams that posted similar records in better conferences, like both LaTech and the previously mentioned Denver squad from a solid WAC conference, that did not receive consideration for an at-large bid. So why Middle Tennessee? That's a good question that I can't answer. They played 5 solid teams during the non-conference schedule: Florida, UCF, Akron, Ole Miss, and Belmont. They were blown out by Florida and Belmont, lost in OT to Akron, and beat Ole Miss and UCF. This means they beat two tourney teams this year in Ole Miss and the mediocre Western Kentucky squad that stole their Sun Belt bid. Mid-majors deserve a chance, but they need to accomplish more during their season than simply crushing bottom-feeders.

St. Mary's- In past seasons, St. Mary's has failed to receive at-large bids to the tourney because of their traditionally soft non-conference schedule. This year, their schedule was still soft, but they managed to receive a bid they didn't deserve. The Gaels have a strong squad, but their wins just don't stack up when compared to those of Tennessee and UVA. Their best wins this season came against Creighton, Utah St. (before injuries killed their season), and BYU twice. They also lost non-conference games to good, not great, Pacific, Georgia Tech, and Northern Iowa teams. If this St. Mary's team played any of their squads from the last 5 years, they would probably lose. So the timing of this bid considering their lack of quality wins is curious. Like MTSU, the committee seemed to award beating mediocre teams and amassing high win totals over beating quality.

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