If you guessed that this post was going to be my obligatory, “Rats. The Selection Committee blew it again.”-post, then you’re correct. I don’t ever want to sound like "sour grapes" simply because the committee picked a team that I didn’t agree with. If the committee had good reason to select any number of teams, then I have no problem being wrong on a projection. In fact, despite projecting Villanova, Kentucky, Kansas St., and Baylor into the tournament, I wouldn’t have been upset if the committee went in a different direction. Those teams have pretty weak resumes. What I can’t accept—at least without putting up a meaningless fight anyways—is when the committee makes a terrible decision. That terrible decision this year came in the form of giving a bid to Oregon. There is no doubt in my mind that Oregon got in for one reason and one reason only: because Arizona did. The committee very likely could not rationalize putting Arizona in over Oregon when Oregon beat Arizona twice and finished with a better record in the Pac 10. That is/was a huge gaffe in reasoning. The committee’s job is to look at the “body of work”. Arizona’s RPI and SOS were considerable better than Oregon’s. That is why Arizona got in. Oregon’s candidacy should have nothing to do with Arizona’s.
Terrible resume = At-large bid
Oregon had a borderline-terrible season. Since December 12, Oregon has gone 10-12. Oregon hasn’t been an above .500 team over the last four months. The season only lasts five months. To put to rest any notion that Oregon was good before December 12, it had a non-conference RPI of 67. This team wasn’t good in non-conference play and it wasn’t good in conference play. It went 1-8 versus UCLA, Washington St, Stanford, and USC. It lost to Oakland University and Nebraska in non-conference play. Oregon’s RPI is 58 which is the lowest of any at-large selection. Oregon was also 6-10 at road/neutral sites. This team doesn’t have any strong points on its resume. The only thing that anyone can say about Oregon is that it beat Arizona twice. Getting a bid was bad enough. I mean, it was simply an awful decision. Even worse than that, though, is that somehow Oregon got a nine (!!!) seed. How could any reasonable collection of ten people come to that conclusion? Oregon not only had, by far, the worst resume of any team in the field, it had a worse resume than a number of teams that didn’t make the field. Where does this nine seed come from? Even if I was assigned to argue for Oregon’s inclusion as a 9-seed in a debate, I couldn’t do it. I don’t believe such an argument exists.
If not Oregon, then who?
Other than, “anyone”, my answer is clearly and unequivocally, “Dayton.” In my opinion, omitting Dayton from the tournament should constitute a failing grade for the committee. The Flyers’ resume is so much better than Oregon’s that it’s borderline fact. I would love to hear someone attempt to prove that Oregon’s resume is better than Dayton’s. I’ll listen to any arguments. If all you can come up with is, “Oregon finished .500 in the Pac 10 and Dayton finished .500 in the A-10”, then you’ll have to do better than that. Dayton holds so many more advantages over Oregon that the “conference strength” argument gets blown away. Dayton’s non-conference RPI was #4. It beat Louisville and Pittsburgh in non-conference play. Dayton jumped out to 14-1 to start the season before losing Chris “Top Flight” Wright to injury. In Wright's absence, Dayton beat Temple, St. Joe’s, Charlotte and Rhode Island all of which have RPIs of 77 or better. Dayton finished with an RPI of 32 and a SOS of 33. The Selection Committee has long stated that it takes into consideration the impact of injuries when it makes its selections. Its inclusion of Arizona this year is one such example. Dayton was set to have Wright back this week after nearly playing in the A-10 Tournament. There is absolutely no question that with Wright, Dayton is one of the top 15 or 20 teams in the country. Even without him for half the season, it managed to finish 26 spots ahead of Oregon in the RPI. Dayton had more wins in the RPI 100 and fewer wins against teams with an RPI of 200 or higher. Dayton had more wins, fewer losses, and a better road/neutral record. By just about any conceivable measure, Dayton’s resume is superior to Oregon’s.
Not surprisingly, the committee has not been able to say anything that even remotely resembles solid reasoning as to why Oregon was included or why Dayton was excluded. This is how the committee chair explained Oregon’s inclusion…
“• On Oregon being in: "They had three really good wins against the top 100 on the road. Where you play is important. Quite frankly, the strength of schedule was pretty good.""
Yeah, "the SOS was pretty good" except it wasn’t better than Dayton’s. Where you play is important? Oregon was 6-10 in road/neutral site games with “really good wins” on the road against Kansas St. and Arizona—two teams that barely made it into the tournament. I can only guess that the third “really good win” was on the road against Cal which finished 16-15 with an RPI of 92. Dayton beat Louisville on the road. Dayton also beat Miami (OH) (RPI 73) on the road which compared to a win at Cal has to be classified as "really, really good."
The chairman went on to say about Arizona…
"• Arizona in: "The Wildcats were 16-6 with Nic Wise and Jerryd Bayless, and their strength of schedule [was high]. When they weren't in the lineup they were a different team.""
The above statement tells me that the Selection Committee really had no insight whatsoever into comparing Dayton to Oregon and Arizona. Dayton was 13-1 with Charles Little and Chris Wright with wins over six RPI 100 teams. An injury exemption to Arizona doesn’t make any sense if the same exemption is not given to Dayton especially since Dayton had to play Xavier (#9 in the RPI) three times without Wright. Dayton finished with a better RPI than Oregon and Arizona despite its injuries.
Then the chairman goes on to say this about Baylor…
"On Baylor getting in as a No. 11: "It wasn't close. They did it all on the court.""
It wasn’t close? How could it not be close? Forget that Villanova was the last team in as the only at-large team with worse than an 11-seed (meaning Baylor was very close to not getting in), saying that Dayton isn’t close to Baylor is simply ridiculous. Dayton had a better record, better RPI, better SOS, and more victories over teams in the RPI 15, 25, 50, and 100, and managed to do all of that without its best player for half of the season. Baylor might have deserved a bid but it was certainly not at Dayton’s expense.
Dayton’s omission isn’t just really bad because Oregon got its spot. It’s really bad because Dayton had a better resume than Oregon, Villanova, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas St., St. Joe’s, S. Alabama, St. Mary’s, Texas A&M, and Mississippi St all of which received at-large bids. Complaining about this won’t accomplish anything because nobody cares. But, the Selection Committee should have to answer for this. I didn’t see a single commenter/interviewer ask the chairman about Dayton’s omission. The committee probably feels pretty good about itself but it shouldn’t. Dayton deserved to be in the tournament and just about every measurable factor supports that. If the committee wanted Oregon in so badly, then it should’ve kept Arizona out. The only argument for Oregon’s inclusion is via Arizona’s inclusion. That is a lousy line-of-thinking. The committee should be ashamed.