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March 11, 2002 Columns No Comments


Monday, March 11th, 2002

by Andrew Flynn

The Tournament Challenge is Up and Running!
That’s right. It’s back. It’s better than ever. And this year – it’s free! The Hoopville 2002 Tournament Challenge is now open for business. Just click the hardwood in the upper right corner and you’re on your way! Be sure to share it with your friends, family, and co-workers. You can’t win if you don’t participate.

Plus, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Hoopville is the only bracket that allows you to pick the Play-In game (this year it’s between Alcorn State and Siena) on Tuesday night. If you get it right, you get 5 bonus points – which beats a tie-breaker any day. So enter early and reap the benefits. You can still participate after Tuesday’s game – you just won’t have the opportunity to get the bonus points.

Upcoming Coverage
We’ll have all the information you’ll need for the Men’s NCAA Tournament bracket. But we’ll also have Women’s NCAA Tournament coverage, plus NIT coverage. The common theme here is that we’ll have you covered.

The Championships:

Yesterday had a shocker and a mild upset. Kansas, who had been on cruise control since early January, was upset by Oklahoma (a pretty good team themselves). That didn’t affect the brackets, however. Though with the win perhaps Oklahoma should have been a one-seed.

Also, Mississippi State upset Alabama to take the SEC crown in a tight matchup. Both teams played evenly, and were rewarded equally by the committee. Ohio State dashed Iowa’s upset binge, finally knocking off the Hawkeyes when two other tournament teams could (Indiana and Wisconsin). And Duke rolled over NC State by 30. You actually expected the Wolfpack to have a shot? Tisk, Tisk.

Not Really Fans of the Selection Committee

Well the world generally concedes that the selection committee did Gonzaga a disservice. Sure their RPI was 25th, but they were the 6th-ranked team in the nation, and they get a 6-seed. It’s not supposed to work that way. 11-seed Wyoming is even more ashen, as if Gonzaga needed any more motivation, now the ‘Zags are going to stomp all over their opponents to spite the committee.

Other squads that got jobbed last night: Marquette, who went from 10th-ranked to a 5-seed; Oklahoma, who beats the unbeatable (Kansas) in Kansas City and was already ranked 4th – and they get a two seed. Hawaii should have been a bit higher, as they bring serious game. Winthrop faces yet another 1-seed. Hey can they help it that their conference isn’t that strong. At least give them a 15-seed, which occasionally knock off a two-seed. Give ’em some hope!

Close, Personal Friends of the Selection Committee
You knew that a few teams were passing around perks and other swag to get into the tournament, acting like it’s 1994 and the Salt Lake Olympics weren’t in the bag just yet. Georgia’s Jim Harrick must have something on Lee Fowler (NC State Athletic Director and Chairman of the Selection Committee), because the Bulldogs certainly didn’t deserve a three-seed.

Xavier seemed a bit high as well, and maybe should swap with First-Round opponent Hawaii in that 7-10 game. And how did the Mountain West get three teams into the dance?

Bubbles Burst
Well Butler is out. And they’re down the road from the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis. One bad tournament and they’re out. Remember back when there was talk that both Butler and Detroit Mercy were good to go? That was what, seven days ago? Memphis had a case, especially seeing as both Utah and Wyoming got in, as well as Boston College. Utah State didn’t close, and there aren’t many sympathetic ears to that. Georgetown is going to have to hold out hope for an NIT, as will Syracuse.

The real mystery – the “What might have been” – stems back to November 28th, when Michigan State and Virginia faced off in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Had the game been completed, the resulting bump in non-conference schedule and the possible win over another tournament team would have put Virginia (and their RPI) over the threshold. But the game wasn’t rescheduled, and they’re waiting for the consolation prize of the NIT. We’ll never know, though we are left with Pete Gillen’s “Bambi on Ice” quote.

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