Tag Archives: Colorado State Snub UCLA

Your NCAA Tournament Opening Weekend Roundup

Welcome to the 102nd edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we only play the piccolo and cry when there’s no one else around. Let’s get into it…

(USATSI)

The best four days in sports kicked off Thursday morning at 10 and wrapped up Sunday night at about 10. Those 84 hours saw 48 basketball games that ended 48 teams’ seasons before they were ready. Things started off with a bang when two 14-seeds upset a pair of teams that many predicted would make the Final Four. So for a while it looked like we were heading for four days of wild and crazy bonkers-ness. But the next three and a half days fizzled a little bit and produced a weekend that was, on the whole, actually pretty bland. Last year in my recap of the tournament’s opening weekend I wrote about a wild Thursday, saying:

…And this year’s NCAA Tourney Thursday might have been the best NCAA Tourney Thursday ever. Four of the 16 games went to overtime, which has never happened before. Four of the twelve regulation games were decided at the buzzer or in the final minute. So literally half of the games on Thursday came down to the final seconds. Three double-digit seeds won. Three more choked away a would-be victory. Colorado was embarrassed…

It was a glorious, unbelievable day.

This year failed to produce a day that came close to that. Those two crazy upsets that sent Iowa State and Baylor home on Thursday turned out to be a misnomer. Saturday, for example, had only two games decided by fewer than 8 points (though Butler-Notre Dame did go to overtime and NC State upset 1-seeded Villanova by three points). Sunday was even worse with zero games being decided by less than six points.

There were some upsets, sure. But in terms of wild, thrilling, did-you-see-that finishes, the weekend certainly underwhelmed.

Now, to be clear, an underwhelming opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament is still better than most any other sporting event. I enjoyed plenty of fun and awesome and memorable and exciting moments of college basketball from Thursday morning through Sunday night.

Here are my favorites:

The best moment of the tournament’s opening weekend came on Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after it all started. Here’s a quick background: 14-seed Georgia State is down by two to 3-seed Baylor in the game’s final seconds. A few days prior, when Georgia State clinched their tourney invite, head coach Ron Hunter tore his Achilles during the team’s celebration, so he’s coaching this game on a little wheeley-stool-type-thing with big ol’ cast on his foot/leg. His son is Georgia State’s best player, R.J. Hunter, a future first-round NBA draft pick. With the game on the line, the younger Hunter buried an unreal three from about 25 feet out. His injured coach/dad was stoked and produced an all-time great Vine that I’ve watched approximately 500 times.

I like the wide angle better, but the close-up of Hunter is also pretty awesome:

So are these still shots:

@MattNorlander

Great stuff, folks.

So that was the tournament’s best moment to date. This next one from Saturday night was the most “viral”:

Obviously, the internet was going to have some fun with this one. Here’s my favorite edit:

And within 48 hours she was on the nation’s most popular late night talk show. What a world.

Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton might have made the play of the tournament with this sick block of a shot that would have won the game for Butler. Absolutely awesome video here.

This is a remarkably underrated Vine from Friday evening. Every time I come across it, I stop and watch it like twenty times.

Before the real tournament even started, we had this moment from Wednesday night’s play-in game. Getting pantsed is cool, but check out the cheerleaders’ reaction:

One of the coolest things about the tournament is fans getting the opportunity to watch players they haven’t seen much throughout the year. For me, this player was D’Angelo Russell. I’ve known for a while that Russell is going to be a top-5 pick, but for whatever reason, I just haven’t been able to watch him a whole lot this year. Ohio State didn’t make it out of the opening weekend, but Russell was a one-man highlight reel.

And check this no-look dime.

And of course, I spent last week ranting and raving about Colorado State’s snub and the ludicrous inclusion of UCLA. It was the most-read post I’ve had in a while. So what happens next? Naturally, Colorado State, the #1 overall seed in the NIT, loses at home to South Dakota State and UCLA makes the Sweet 16.

I would like to take a moment to emphasize one point:  A team’s performance, good or bad, in either the NIT or the NCAAs does nothing to merit the selection committee’s decision. Those decisions are made on what’s been done, not a team’s projected in performance in a separate tournament.

UCLA and Texas could both make the Final Four with CSU immediately losing in the NIT and that would still not justify the committee’s inclusion of those brands over a more deserving team.

And I can’t really blame CSU for coming out flat for what turned out to be their last game of the year. They were emotionally drained. They lacked focus and energy, especially early. And that’s all fair. Not overly surprising. Not something I’m going to fault them for.

An opportunity for some decent national exposure (had they gotten to play in Madison Square Garden) went down the drain, but if we’re honest we know that nobody gives a damn about the NIT. CSU’s season truly ended on Selection Sunday.

Off to the weekly departments…

Douche of the week:

A few weeks ago I ranked Allie LaForce pretty high on my Swoon Index (#5, but that might have been too low). So naturally, I AM NOT DOWN WITH THIS.

Photo(s) of the week:

CBS Sports tweeted an awesome gallery of the best pictures from the opening weekend. These are my favorites (along with the one at the top of this page).

A cool shot from the play-in game in Dayton. (Getty)

Ron Hunter hugs his son as he comes out of his last game of the year. (USATSI)

I just put this in here because Fred VanVleet is probably my favorite player in the country. (Getty)

Tweet(s) of the week:

A couple Las Vegas hotels tweeted out some pretty funny videos of a meaningless layup in the final seconds of the VCU – Ohio State game. VCU is down by five, and throws in a layup at the buzzer so the Rams only lose by three. This made a bunch of people happy.

Stud of the week:

Finally seeing Garth Brooks live crossed an item off my bucket list. (John Lebya, Denver Post)

This post is a little shorter than a lot of other weeks because it took me about two full days to recover from a concert I attended late on Saturday night (and into Sunday morning)*.

*Not that I was, like, wasted. I’ve learned from experience that concerts are more fun when you remember them.

I’m told I started listening to Garth Brooks when I was about four years old and I do remember the cassette of his self-titled debut album always kicking around in my dad’s car. So saying I grew up with Garth Brooks is not at all an exaggeration. I have the hard copies of eight or nine of Garth’s albums with a few other downloads peppered in. I honestly think I know every word to every song on every one of those albums.

Garth was “retired” by the time I started going to concerts and prior to this week, he hadn’t played in Denver since I was eight years old. So by the time I truly learned to appreciate and enjoy his music, I had come to the realization that I would probably never be lucky enough to see him play live. So saying I’ve waited pretty much my whole life to see Garth Brooks, that too, is not at all an exaggeration.

I’ve known that much of Garth’s astounding success is due to his live shows and I’ve seen plenty of YouTube’d or DVR’d concerts. But at the risk of repeating what 25 people have already put in your Facebook feed, it was pretty damn awesome.

Singing along as Garth let the crowd take over on Unanswered Prayers (like I’ve done while listening to Double Live hundreds of times) was worth double the price of admission. But so was screaming the live-only third verses on The Thunder Rolls and Friends In Low Places (like I’ve done while listening to Double Live hundreds of times.)

And, damn, it was loud. I have definitely never been to a concert that was as loud as the Pepsi Center was between every song. It was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard that place, which is saying something.

Garth will do a little of the corny, you-guys-are-the-best-crowd-yet stuff that may make you might roll your eyes. But that’s just Garth being Garth. He plays to the crowd and does it well. Overall though, Garth sings the songs you want to hear and does it with the passion and energy that’s made him a zillion dollars over the past quarter-century, even if it’s his second show of the night and it’s well past 1 a.m. on Sunday morning.

And I know this is an original opinion, but it’s pretty damn awesome.

NBA Tank Watch 2015:

The Nuggets continue to choke this thing away. They’ve held steady in the 8-spot of the Tankandings, and it looks pretty clear that played themselves out of a high lottery pick, which is kind of astounding when you think about how bad they were and how little they cared under Brian Shaw..

  1. New York, .197, 14-57
  2. Minnesota, .229, 16-54
  3. Philadelphia, .243, 17-53
  4. L.A. Lakers, .265, 18-50
  5. Orlando, .306, 22-50
  6. Sacramento, .348, 24-45
  7. Detroit, .371, 26-44
  8. Denver, .380, 27-44

Some links I enjoyed and you should too:

And finally, CJ Anderson bought his grandma a car and that’s pretty damn awesome.

Grandparents are the best.

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

Colorado State Was Snubbed Because It’s Not A Big Enough Brand

Welcome to the 101st edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I am NOT TAKING THINGS WELL. Let’s get into it… (I suppose I should warn you about a little uncharacteristically coarse language in this one.)

The selection committee snubbed CSU out of an at-large bid, leaving fans, and Larry Eustachy, perplexed. (Rich Abrahamson, Coloradoan)

Almost exactly two years ago, I published my first edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, titled “Did Colorado State Deserve A Better Seed And A Better Matchup?”. A couple days prior to that posting, the NCAA Tournament selection committee screwed Colorado State badly with an 8-seed that forced them to play the number one overall seed in the second round in what amounted to a true road game. It was pretty clear CSU deserved much better. Two years later, the committee completely, thoroughly outdid itself.

Over the course of this college basketball season the Colorado State Rams did more than enough to secure an NCAA Tournament bid. They didn’t get one on Selection Sunday because the selection committee is able to simply alter the criteria required for an at-large bid if the outcome favors a popular brand name at the expense of a team that’s lesser known nationally.

Make no mistake, that’s all this was. It’s extremely simple, really. The committee favored brand names. Sure, it’s about the conference affiliation. Sure, it’s about how well a team’s fan base will travel. Sure, it’s about the tradition of a program. But all of that contributes to a brand name. And this year, the selection committee based their “bubble” selections entirely– ENTIRELY– on brand names.

And that is fucking bullshit.

The NCAA Tournament is the center of the sports world when it comes Cinderella stories (THE SLIPPER STILL FITS!) and David taking down Goliath. The success of schools few casual basketball fans are familiar with is what provides much of the March Madness hype every year. But those romantic themes and story lines lose a lot of luster when the “little guy” can’t even get into the damn tournament. How is the scrawny nerd supposed to hook up with hot chick if the bouncers don’t let him into the bar?

The thing is, CSU basketball isn’t really that little of a guy. The Mountain West is an upper-level mid-major. This isn’t Murray State from the Ohio Valley pleading in vain for an at-large bid. CSU was in line to earn their third at-large bid in four years. They have a well-respected head coach who has been around forever. They are firmly on the college basketball map.

But Colorado State is not a BRAND. Indiana is a brand. Ole Miss is a brand. Georgia is a brand. Texas is a brand. UCLA– ohhh fucking UCLA— is a brand.

The NCAA makes a seed list that ranks every team in the tournament from 1-68. The bottom of the at-large field looks like this:

  • 37. Indiana
  • 38. Davidson
  • 39. Ohio State
  • 40. Georgia
  • 41. Texas (!)
  • 42. UCLA (!)
  • 43. Ole Miss
  • 44. BYU
  • 45. Boise State
  • 46. Dayton
  • Dayton was the last at-large team selected. The committee has made it clear the first team out was Temple, followed, presumably, by Colorado State. So had the list been extended before adding automatic qualifiers, it would have looked like this:
  • 47. Temple
  • 48. Colorado State

This is utterly absurd on so many levels. Dayton should have been comfortably in the field and far from the last team in. How in the hell is Indiana ahead of Ohio State?! You could make the argument that Georgia, a team with ZERO top-50 wins and two sub-100 losses, should have been on the outside looking in, yet there they are with SIX teams behind them in the seed list. How does Boise State get sent to a play-in game against Dayton, IN DAYTON?! Texas doesn’t deserve a spot at all, and they have FIVE teams behind them. And then, of course, you have UCLA who wasn’t even on ANYBODY’S radar, and they’re chilling at 42 without a care in the world.

The biggest retort to all of this discussion will be Whatever, man. CSU should have played a tougher nonconference schedule. Well, let’s take a look at this argument.

CSU’s nonconference strength of schedule is ranked 83rd in the country. Texas? 85. Georgia? 92. Indiana? 109. Ole Miss? 95.

But these teams are all in good conferences, so they don’t have to load up in the nonconference schedule right? Well, kinda. All of these schools’ overall strength of schedule was launched significantly ahead of CSU once everybody played a full slate of conference games. So they all definitely deserve credit for playing in a tougher conference, especially when the Mountain West was down a little bit this year. But how much credit does each team really deserve for their conference play? Texas finished 8-10 in the Big 12. Georgia and Ole Miss both finished 11-7 in the weak-ass SEC. Indiana finished 9-9 in the Big 10.

Indeed, the argument for the tournament’s inclusion of the Texas brand is they played a very tough schedule. They played 15 games vs. top-50 opponents. FIFTEEN! That’s a lot! But Texas went just 3-12 vs. the top-50. My math tells me that’s not a very good track record against good teams. Why are we so devoted to rewarding teams for losing to superior opponents? This is such a flawed logic. Put those 12 top-50 games that Texas lost on CSU’s schedule and I guarantee you– GUARANTEE!– that CSU can go at least 0-12 like the Longhorns did.

Then there’s UCLA. Again, this team brand wasn’t on anybody’s radar as a potential tournament team brand. They weren’t even on the bubble. Then they got in, somehow.

When comparing UCLA’s body of work with CSU’s, it’s clear that the two resumes are not even close. CSU has seven more wins, CSU’s RPI is 19 spots higher, UCLA has two more sub-100 losses. And as this tweet points out, Colorado State lost to one non-tournament team all year. UCLA lost to FIVE different teams that didn’t make the field. And again, UCLA didn’t just make the field, they made the field COMFORTABLY!

Take this moronic tweet from ESPN’s Jay Williams, one of the few national voices dumb enough to support Colorado State’s snub:

Okay, Jay. But CSU also went 10-4 vs. the top-150, while UCLA went 11-13. One of those records is better than the other, you dipshit.

Oh, and CSU’s 16 wins vs. sub-150 teams is really bad, right? Well nine of UCLA’s whopping 20 wins came against sub-150 teams.

By the time the conference tournaments come and go, every team on or near the bubble has plenty of warts and misgivings attached to their resume. The traditional line of thinking says that if you don’t get in, you only have yourself to blame. You can argue about seeding, but if you don’t even make the field, that’s on you. This is especially true in the 68-team era of today. With Colorado State, bracketology-expert-guy Patrick Stevens disagrees:

So yeah, we’re talking about an all-time snub here.

Of course, the committee has to come up with something to justify keeping the CSU brand (or lack thereof) out of the tournament. It sounds like it found the one weak spot associated with this year’s CSU team and keyed in on that. The Rams’ weak spot is… the Kenpom rankings. Kenpom is an advanced ranking system using, among other things, adjusted efficiency statistics. CSU’s Kenpom ranking this year didn’t line up with the rest of their resume. They ranked 68th.

Here’s the chairman of the committee, Scott Barnes, as quoted in the Coloradoan: “When you think about Colorado State, their RPI was fairly strong but the other metrics that we use weren’t nearly as high in terms of ranking.” He’s obviously referring to Kenpom, or Sagarin (CSU ranks 57th) or BPI (also 57th).

But this leaves Colorado State fans (and coaches and players) screaming something along the lines of: SINCE WHEN HAS THAT SHIT MATTERED?!

For years, coaches at mid-major programs have been told to get their RPI up. We’ve all been told the RPI is a crucial tool for the selection committee, even if we’ve known the formula is antiquated and not a solid way of ranking the best teams in the country. So what does the committee do when a mid-major like CSU combines clever scheduling and a lot of wins to produce an excellent RPI that essentially guarantees tournament entry?

It decides that, in this case, the RPI is no longer important.

Yeah, now– NOW– it’s time to move on from the RPI and use more complex ranking systems. That pretty fucking coincidental timing, if  you ask me.

Colorado State was projected by every single bracket-projector-person to be in the field for a reason. Jerry Palm and Joe Lunardi and Patrick Stevens aren’t picking their favorite teams or the teams they think are deserving. They are projecting what the committee will do. The committee has a set of guidelines to use. They have historical tendencies from previous tournaments. And every single person that studies and projects brackets for a living deduced that said tendencies and guidelines meant CSU was in. What all the bracket experts and analysts failed to consider was that the committee can ignore their guidelines and tendencies whenever they want if it serves a bigger and better brand name.

And for the love of all that is holy, WOULD YOU ASSCLOWNS JUST ADMIT THAT CONFERENCE AFFILIATION DOES MATTER?  You were never going to take four teams from the Mountain West; it would be great if you could just acknowledge that.

I’m also tired of hearing people play the “what-if” game. CSU let one slip at Boise in January. CSU shouldn’t have lost at home to Wyoming. CSU should have played JJ Avila against San Diego State. If a school like CSU wants in, they need to win their conference tournament.

This is all bullshit. CSU didn’t need to do any of those things. They did enough. They were in.

That’s the bottom line for me:   CSU did enough to get into the tournament. They did more than enough. And the committee found a way to keep them out. Whether that was a sudden, newfound emphasis with very peculiar timing on advanced metrics like Kenpom or a focus on conference RPI and keeping the number of Mountian West teams to a minimum, they simply found a way to keep them out. And they did it because they wanted bigger, better brand names in the tournament.

If you believe for one damn second that if the roles were reversed and UCLA or Texas was considered by all the bracketology experts and analysts to be comfortably in the field the way CSU was, and if CSU was considered a longshot bubble team like UCLA or Texas were… If you believe for one damn second that the committee would have balls to shock everyone and put CSU ahead of those brands, you are absolutely insane.

And it’s pretty depressing to think about those details. When you consider that CSU isn’t in a fair fight and there is nothing that they or their fans can do about it except start cussing in blogs, it makes you question the the whole operation.

What’s the point? Why should I invest so much into such a rigged system?

The NCAA Tournament, The Big Dance, and March Madness are my three favorite sporting events of the year, every year. The only thing that comes close, for me, is the MLB Postseason. But even the best Octobers can’t hold a candle to the ceaseless fun, intensity, and overall craziness the first four days of March Madness brings.

But on Sunday we learned, in no uncertain terms, that March Madness is more fun, intense, and crazy if you have a brand name attached to that resume. Then you might actually get to participate.

Off to the weekly departments (which are admittedly a little rushed this week)…

NBA Tank Watch 2015!

The Nuggets continue to absolutely screw everything up in the worst way by winning games. They’ve fallen to the 8th spot in the Tankandings.

  1. New York, .197
  2. Minnesota, .212
  3. Philadelphia, ..224
  4. L.A. Lakers, .262
  5. Orlando, ..309
  6. Sacramento, ..338
  7. Detroit, .348
  8. Denver, .382

Idiots.

Douche(s) of the week:

Umm… See above.

Studs of the week:

Nice moment at a Nuggets game here. These do not get old.

Vine(s) of the week:

My favorite of the year! Glorious.

The only thing better is the super slow motion version here.

This one is also pretty glorius. Just a bit short, my man.

Photo of the week:

This isn’t exactly an amazing piece of sports photography, but it’s still my favorite photo of the week. The perils of having a live mascot.

A couple other things worth sharing:

The best game of the weekend might have been Albany’s win over Stony Brook. Here’s the game-winner and ensuing court storm.

More conference tournament fun! Oregon’s game-winner over Utah.

And this play here took some ONIONS!

(Hey look! Texas lost to a good team!)

And here’s something to distract the CSU basketball fans. Another episode of “The Grind.” Still really well done.

And finally, Deadspin brought this video to my attention. After the way my week went, it’s very necessary viewing.

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.