Update (Sunday Evening)-The Sweet Sixteen is set. Before I say anything else, I should point out that the classy half of the Nantz/Packer broadcasting team ate the appropriate amount of crow during the Villanova/Arizona broadcast this afternoon. Jim Nantz admitted that the Missouri Valley teams "had a right to be proud, and have proven many people wrong, including two right here at courtside". Packer...uh.. sort of agreed but grudgingly so. So, Jim Nantz gets kudos from here for admitting his wrongheadedness of last Sunday. Mr. Packer apparently still needs a little convincing. The conference tally of teams still alive:
Mo Valley, SEC, Pac 10-2
ACC, Big 12, CUSA, West Coast Conf, Colonial A.A.-1
Update (Sunday afternoon)-Well, well, well... So, Bradley beats Pitt (Big East) to make it to the Sweet 16...So, Wichita State beats Tennessee (#2 seed from the SEC) to make it to the Sweet 16... Hmmm...could Billy Packer and Jim Nantz have a screwed up view of the college basketball world? Could they possibly be biased toward the teams they cover all the time? Could they possibly be too close to the power boys...and too enfatuated with the view they've always had of things? Could they possibly be wrong about how many teams should get into the tournament from the power conferences? You most likely won't hear them say it...BUT THEY ARE!! At least on the Bradley/Pitt broadcast today Lundquist and Raftery made the point...in the face of their colleagues...that the Valley has proven that it deserved the respect that the tournament committee gave them in putting four teams in. Lundquist said...paraphrasing..."A lot was made on the selection show about whether the Valley should have gotten four teams into the dance. I think they've answered that question." Raftery said..."You don't see enough of these teams (Valley and mid-majors) to know how really good they are. But they are very good in every aspect." Chew on that Jim and Billy.
Again an Update (Saturday evening)-Illinois loses to Washington 67-64. The Illini played a strange game in this one. They looked horrible in the first half...only to come back and dominate the last 5 minutes of the half and first 10 minutes of the second half on the strength of James Augustine's dominance. Then the big lead in the second half melts away as Augustine disappears..and they are called for three times the fouls that Washington gets. Die hard Illini fans will say the refs were bad. I tend to think they earned most of the fouls that were called. Dee Brown takes the last shot to tie...after a timeout where I'm sure Bruce Weber wanted to make sure Brown took the shot. He's earned the chance to take it. Too bad there was no fairy tale ending. Also, Wichita State strikes another blow for the mid-majors as they take out Tennessee to go to the Sweet 16. If Bradley wins Sunday...it might get Packer/Nantz et al. to finally shut up.
Another Update (Saturday morning)-Here's my feeling about the Packer/Nantz comments on the selection show after the conclusion of the first round games...They were right to question the committee chairman if they really thought there was some sort of injustice being done...BUT...they were flat out wrong. The games of Thursday and Friday prove to me that there are more mid-majors and small schools who can compete now with the "big boys" than there ever have been. In my mind, it's because the great players leave school early to play in the NBA. The power conferences are subjected to that problem much more than the mid-majors and small conference teams. So, that serves to even out things more than in the past when truly great players went through at least four years of college. It's a more level playing field now...and the sooner Packer, Nantz, and those like them wake up and realize it, the better off we'll all be. It seems to me the committee got it right...but again, I would question the seedings even more in the future. Just because a school plays in a power conference, doesn't mean it's automatically worthy of at least a 4 or 5 seed.
Update (Friday night, before the late games)-- After watching Michigan State get taken out by George Mason...and Connecticut struggle to beat #16 seed Albany...Iowa gets bounced on a buzzer beater by NWestern St....and many other hotly contested games between so-called power conference teams and their lesser-seeded opponents, I am not only questioning why the power conferences get so many teams into the tournament...but why they are always seeded so high compared to the mid-majors and small conference teams. To me that's becoming more of a story in this tournament than Packer's poor ACC not getting enough teams into the dance. Let's start questioning the seedings from here on.
Update (Fri afternoon)-- SIU gets blown out by West Virginia...and Northern Iowa plays Georgetown tough, but loses. Not good for the Valley today. We'll wait to see what Bradley does against Kansas, and then re-evaluate things...stay tuned.
--Jim Nantz and Billy Packer will either be eating crow...or crowing by the end of the day.
You'll remember the two lead announcers for CBS' coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament were appalled and aghast at the lack of respect shown by the tournament selection committee to the so-called, power conferences when picking this year's at-large teams.
Well, if yesterday is any indication, maybe we had better start coming up with a different name for the power conferences...like maybe...regular conferences.
The Big East...which had a record eight teams in the field...lost three of them in first round action. Syracuse laid an egg against Texas A&M, Marquette went down to Alabama, and Seton Hall went out wimpering at the hands of Wichita State. Of course, Wichita State is one of those Missouri Valley teams that Packer, Nantz and the rest of their elitist buddies in broadcasting thought shouldn't have had four teams in the dance. Boston College of the ACC, another power conference, was put through two overtimes yesterday by Pacific before finally winning. Wisconsin-Milwaukee knocked off Oklahoma of the Big 12 yesterday too.
Today, we will really start to get the picture as Southern Illinois, of the Valley, has a chance to take out Big East memeber West Virginia, and the Valley's Northern Iowa will take on Georgetown, also of the Big East. Noone is expecting UConn or Villanova of the Big East to lose today. They both have number one seeds in their part of the bracket.
If SIU and Northern Iowa win today, the silence from Packer and Nantz, who really went too far in their biased analysis of the world of college basketball during the selection show, will likely be deafening. I might expect Nantz, who has been the classy part of the team, to admit to a wrong-headed view of the college game. But could we expect that from Packer? Doubtful.
It will be very interesting to hear their comments...if they make any...should the mid-majors continue to knock off, and/or play right with the big boys.