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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January 2, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

Wishing all a very Happy New Year. Hoping you enjoyed the holidays and praying for blessings for all in 2018.

New Year’s Day long has belonged to college football, and frankly, that’s as it should be.

From this view, there are few better traditions in sport than spending New Year’s watching college bowl games, and their parades, too, for that matter. Even as major college football as a whole has become a fount of so much excess it’s almost a parody of itself (see: $11 million coaches contracts, Brazilian Ipe wood locker room floors and chrome helmets amidst umpteen sets of uniforms), bowl games over the holidays are a time when even a hardened fan can put that aside and just enjoy sport.

Comparatively, college basketball’s role in the day has always been little, and that’s totally O.K. Yesterday, though, it was impossible not to think about college hoops even while watching college bowl games.

Central Florida’s 34-27 win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl, and the surrounding narrative about the Knights before and after, called to mind memories of many underdogs in-or wanting to be in-the NCAA Tournament over the years. UCF’s win was obviously a triumph of the upstart over an established school. Of course, it also was a big deal because of the built-in suspicion of teams like UCF being allegedly unable to beat traditional top-ranked powers.

It’s a suspicion that should’ve been proven invalid long ago, yet in tiresome manner hangs on. Since the advent of the old Bowl Championship Series and into the current iteration of the postseason, non-BCS teams (we far prefer that term over the ‘Group of 5’ designation now) have an 8-3 record against BCS teams in major bowl games. The wins have come over the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, royalty of the sport over the past 20 years and more.

UCF’s win may have been a slight surprise by rankings this year, but it was clearly no accident, and it should be no surprise anymore when teams like the Knights don’t just compete in these games, but win them. Regardless of facts, though, misconceptions of such teams continue in college sports.

That’s fine for fans. It shouldn’t be fine for those charged with knowing the sports best. Under the new college football playoff, the selection committee has blatantly hosed teams like UCF in its rankings the past couple years, an exercise that smacks of foxes-in-the-hen-house collusion. (Compare resumes, and tell us how Wisconsin was ever able to reach a top-four spot in the rankings late in the year, yet the Knights couldn’t even break the top-12 until a courtesy raise in the final poll of the season.)

Despite a 12-0 record coming into the game, despite three wins over teams ranked in the Associated Press top 25 coming into the bowls (that’s two more than Wisconsin, one more than Alabama or Clemson), Central Florida never even got close to a shot at playing for the national title. It’s a ridiculous oversight against such teams that fans and media should be demanding answers for.

Of course, it’s no secret that, in recent years, schools from outside TV-approved conferences in college basketball have received the shaft similar to the UCFs of the world in football. That, too, has happened despite many years of proof telling selection committee members that those schools should’ve earned the benefit of the doubt long ago.

We noted regularly in the past statistics demonstrating how teams outside the major conferences do a better job of taking advantage of the last at-large bids than middling majors do. Unfortunately, research also shows that the committee has only become more and more enclosed on who it invites, a trend that, not surprisingly, dates back to the early origins of the BCS for football. And speaking anecdotally over the past few Selection Sundays, you can’t tell us that, much like UCF football this year, teams with profiles such as Colorado State in 2015 or St. Bonaventure in 2016 would’ve been kept out of the tourney if their profiles had been compiled by a school in a TV conference.

The NCAA Tournament has never been a lesser event if it had 2-4 more at-large teams from outside the major TV leagues. (The 2013 tourney proved as much in spades.) And, whether its schedule may have graded out a little lighter or not, the college football playoff wouldn’t have been cheapened an iota by Central Florida being in its semifinals this year, if one really wants to see who the best team is, and not just a couple conferences consolidating all their money and might.

As UCF football proves this year, though, and programs like George Mason in 2006, VCU in 2011 and Wichita State in 2013-all in the Final Four-show, there also is a distinct danger in overlooking these teams, that a selection committee just might be leaving legitimate national title contenders out of the mix by not inviting them in favor of teams that very rarely (in the case of college hoops) make much of a mark in the event.

If NCAA basketball tourney selection committee members have any skepticism of what programs outside a select few conferences can do when they do get a chance at those teams, they should’ve been watching Monday’s Peach Bowl. Better yet, they can just take a history lesson-in college basketball or football.

Side Dishes:

  • There were a few college basketball games on New Year’s Day. In the Big 12, a pair of road teams won with West Virginia holding off Kansas State 77-69 and Texas earning a 74-70 win in overtime against Iowa State. Time to start getting to know the name of WVU’s Teddy Allen. The freshman scored 22 off the bench to lead the Mountaineers against the pesky Wildcats. Meanwhile, big hoss Dylan Osetkowski (love the Polish last name) scored a career-best 25 and hit seven triples for the Longhorns as they outlasted the Cyclones, giving ISU its third loss this year at Hilton Coliseum.
  • Quinnipiac got a road win in the MAAC, nipping Siena 71-70 to move to 2-0 in league play. Cameron Young scored 26 for the Bobcats and hit 15 of 16 free throws. Nice.
  • The SWAC took New Year’s for a full five-game schedule. Easily the most notable game was Texas Southern getting its first win after at long last getting to extend its home winning streak to 24 games, defeating Southern 78-66. Derrick Bruce scored 28 and Demontrae Jefferson added 25 for the Tigers, who are now 1-13 after playing a brutal road-filled non-conference schedule. Also, Prairie View A&M defeated Alcorn State 76-64. Both are capable of being in the mix with TSU this year.
  • Youngstown State got its first NCAA Division I win of the season, winning at Cleveland State 80-77 in a pairing of two rebuilding Horizon League programs.
  • Not news, but for your enjoyment we present a very enjoyable read by Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, ranking the top 25 college players of all time in that state.

Tonight’s Menu: The schedule starts to pick up

  • What a slate of early games. The headliner is Villanova-slaying Butler at Xavier (7 p.m. Eastern, FS1), the Bulldogs’ first game since knocking off No. 1.
  • TCU goes to Baylor (7 p.m., ESPNews), and one of these two will be 0-2 in the Big 12 after this one.
  • Auburn at Tennessee (7 p.m., ESPNU) is an outstanding matchup of coaches and two teams that play their tails off. The Volunteers are also coming off a tough loss at Arkansas and don’t want to possibly start sliding with a loss here.
  • There are some good ones in the second slot of games as well. Texas Tech can make a big statement by winning-or even playing well-at Kansas (9 p.m., ESPN).
  • Florida is at Texas A&M (9 p.m., ESPN2), while ranked Arkansas now hits the road to face Mississippi State (9 p.m., SEC Network). Someone has to lose in all these SEC games this season, but early in league plays it’s sometimes hard to see just who.
  • Mid-American Conference play gets going, led by Toledo at Buffalo on national television (7 p.m., CBSSN). Also, West Division contenders meet with Eastern Michigan at Ball State, plus Akron is at Western Michigan.
  • In the CAA, Towson finishes up a tough road swing with a trip to Elon.
  • Quality matchup in the Northeast as Vermont is at Harvard (7 p.m., NESN+ on your DirecTV).
  • Out west, San Diego State travels to the Rockies to face Colorado State (9 p.m., CBSSN).

Enjoy the ninth day of Christmas.

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Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

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"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

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