TREBBY: Finding the Right 68, No Matter the Conference

Teams like Connecticut, Northwestern and Seton Hall do not deserve to be participants in the NCAA Tournament this March.

There is no way Connecticut, who finished 8-10 in the Big East and is currently 20-12 overall, should be in the tournament. The Huskies have won only six of their last 15 games, with two of those wins against DePaul and the others against Seton Hall, Villanova, West Virginia and Pittsburgh.

There is no way Northwestern, at 18-12 overall and a below-average 8-10 in the Big Ten, should be in the tourney either. It has one win of note, coming against Michigan State. Its second-best win is a victory against Seton Hall on a neutral site.

The Pirates lost to Rutgers and DePaul in Big East play. Need to hear anything else?

Teams that play in conferences like the Big Ten and Big East are always at an advantage because they have multiple chances to gain resume building wins, unlike quality mid-major programs.

Instead, teams like Iona, Oral Roberts and Middle Tennessee State will find themselves on the outside looking in, playing in the NIT.

Why? Well, they didn’t win their conference tournament.

So, one game is able to cancel out the rest of their body of work, which ought to merit a chance in the NCAA Tournament by itself.

Iona is one of the most entertaining teams in the country to watch. It leads Division I in points and assists and is second in field goal percentage. Its point guard, Scott Machado, averages a ridiculous 9.9 assists, and its leading scorer Mike Glover is averaging 18.5 points and 9 rebounds.

The Gaels went 15-3 in the Mid-American Atlantic Conference and 26-7 overall. Because they weren’t able to play in the Big East or Big Ten or schedule any big non-conference games, they won’t be dancing in March.

Oral Roberts absolutely dominated the Summit League, going 17-1, which led to a 27-6 overall record. If a team loses only one game in their conference season, it should be in the NCAA Tournament.

Middle Tennessee State was the force of the Sun Belt, going 25-6 overall, and 14-2 in conference play.

When a team has a conference record that is under .500, as is the case with  Connecticut, Northwestern and Seton Hall, it shouldn’t be allowed to be in the NCAA Tournament.

When a team has a conference record that is as impressive as Iona, Oral Roberts and Middle Tennessee State all have, it should be in the NCAA Tournament.

Sure makes sense, doesn’t it? I don’t think it’s debatable.

What did the three unimpressive teams I mentioned first do to merit entry into the NCAA Tournament? They grabbed a win against a quality team or two out of numerous opportunities and happen to play in one of the biggest conferences in college basketball.

I really hope the selection committee follows their actions of the past year and give mid-major teams a chance.

Last season, the entire college basketball world was outraged when Colorado was omitted from the field of 68 on Selection Sunday. It was made especially worse when Virginia Commonwealth was one of the teams the committee let in.

VCU proceeded to make it to the Final Four, in one of the most surprising runs in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

When George Mason got to the Final Four in 2006, it was an at-large team from the Colonial Athletic Association. Many “experts” said it didn’t deserve a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Still, there are many mid-major teams that don’t get a chance to dance just because they don’t play in a BCS conference and weren’t able to win their conference tournament.

The selection committee has done a good job of offering opportunities to mid-major schools, and I hope they continue it this year, as the teams “on the bubble” are weaker than ever.

If Connecticut, Northwestern or Seton Hall are truly  teams worthy of the NCAA Tournament, then college basketball needs to get its act together.