Posted on: March 17, 2008 11:28 am
Edited on: March 17, 2008 6:00 pm
NEW YORK -- Illinois State was the lone team I had in the field that did not make the field.
So naturally, I'm gonna defend the Rebirds and address some of the complaints about their body of work.
Here goes ...
People say Illinois State didn't beat anybody. OK, I'll concede the point. ISU didn't beat many (if any) good teams. But some of this is about opportunity, and with the MVC supposedly down this season how many opportunities was ISU ever really going to get? The three games against Drake and a game against Indiana is it, best I can tell. But the Redbirds still had two Top 50 wins, and am I supposed to believe that because they came against Creighton they do not count? Seems Top 50 wins only matter if they come against Top 50 teams from power leagues, or at least that's the message sent.
Anyway, two Top 50 wins.
That's terrible, right?
But UNLV only has two, and if the Rebels would've lost to BYU in the MWC title game they'd be stuck on one.
You think UNLV would've been left out under that scenario, with just one Top 50 win?
Answer: Not. A. Chance.
Meantime, Baylor only has three Top 50 wins.
Clearly, that's one more than Illinois State.
But the Bears also had 11 games with Top 50 opponents. So they were 3-8 against the Top 50, meaning they won 27.3 percent of those matchups. Illinois State was 2-5 against the Top 50, meaning they won 28.6 percent of those matchups.
Baylor got in.
Illinois State did not.
(I'm not saying, I'm just saying.)
Anyway, let me be clear about something: Illinois State's omission is not a reason to riot. Had the Redbirds played Drake close in the MVC final my guess is they'd have made the field. But they got killed, just run straight off the court. So on Selection Sunday they paid the price, and on some level they did it to themselves. But it's still difficult to ignore that 13 schools with lower RPIs than Illinois State's 33 were awarded at-large bids, and that it always seems to be the Missouri Valley Conference schools that are getting left out despite high RPIs (No. 33 Illinois State and No. 46 Creighton in 2008; No. 36 Missouri State and No. 38 Bradley in 2007; No. 21 Missouri State and No. 39 Creighton in 2006, etc.).
Is this merely a coincidence?
But if I was MVC commissioner Doug Elgin, yeah, I'd be a little pissed, too.