Is there a more thankless job than being on the NCAA Tournament selection committee?
After announcing the field for the Big Dance each year, fans of most teams find something to dislike about the work the committee has done. Teams are seeded too low, arch-rivals are seeded too high, good teams are left out and regionals are always stacked against a fan's favorite team.
Sometimes, there are conspiracy theories, and this there were three after the NCAA Tournament field was announced on Sunday night.
The first had to do with the FBI investigation of the college basketball corruption. It was specifically about three schools that have been linked to the inquiry: Oklahoma State, Louisville and Southern California.
All three were bubble teams this year and all three missed the tournament.
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports noted the connection. He tweeted: "Louisville out. USC out. Oklahoma State out. What do they have in common? Part of the federal investigation of college hoops."
ESPN's Jeff Goodman said the committee denied that allegation.
He tweeted: "NCAA selection committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen told ESPN that the FBI probe had nothing to do with USC, Oklahoma State or Louisville being omitted. 'It never came up in the room,' he said."
On to conspiracy theory No. 2: Many Big 12 fans were surprised to see Oklahoma made the NCAA Tournament, while Oklahoma State missed. Why would the Sooners get the invite when they finished the season with a 4-11 record and ended up with an 18-13 mark?
Trey Young, of course. At least that was the theory from many people.
One last conspiracy theory: St. Mary's was snubbed despite having a 28-5 record and being ranked 28th by Ken Pom.
Dieter Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News believes St. Mary's was left out because it's a small school that plays on the West Coast. He wrote:
"You can almost forgive the selection committee for not spending time watching the Gaels play this year — a game against Pepperdine or Portland is a tough sell — but when every single bubble team that made the field, save for Arizona State — which was, at one point, No. 2 in the nation (and that was cited as the reason they were included…) — is in the Eastern or Central time zones, it only highlights the NCAA’s lazy favoritism towards teams East of the Mississippi River.
"You see, schools like Rhode Island play games at a more reasonable time…
"And when you didn’t watch the games, you’re left to make decisions via spreadsheet. Saint Mary’s didn’t stand out on a spreadsheet, but they were undeniable on the court. I can’t help but think that had Saint Mary’s been a school in upstate New York, they would have made it.
"But that wasn’t the only factor going against the Gaels — Saint Mary’s was also done in by the NCAA’s desire to get big names into their big-money tournament.
"CBS and Turner Sports didn’t pay billions of dollars so a college with half the enrollment of a Houston high school could be on their airwaves (or whatever we’re calling them these days). The NCAA’s 'corporate champions' (because calling them what they are, corporate sponsors, would only make the argument for paying players easier) aren’t creating ads dripping with Americana to run between stretches of a bunch of Australians running roughshod over a good, hearty, land-grant university from the Eastern time zone.
"No, the NCAA wants Syracuse — everyone knows Syracuse. It wants Florida State — you know them from their football team. It wants past champions Florida and North Carolina State — they surely have some nice mini-documentaries on both schools they can run att halftime."