Posted March 19, 2013

Saint Mary’s handles Middle Tennessee State in First Four; will the committee take notice?

First Four, NCAA Tournament
St. Mary's

Stephen Holt of St. Mary’s attempts a shot against Middle Tennessee Tuesday night. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

In the at-large portion of Tuesday’s First Four session, Saint Mary’s locked down Middle Tennessee State and cruised to a comfortable 67-54 win. The Gaels will advance to face 6-seed Memphis in Auburn Hills on Thursday.

This was a matchup of the two teams with really suspect profiles that were given at-larges, and the Gaels clearly looked like the better team (which is what a comparison of the profiles suggested). Typically, you can’t take a team’s performance in the tournament as evidence that they should or should not have been selected, but in Middle Tennessee’s case, there’s a bit more of a correlated response possible.

The Blue Raiders had one top-100 win all season, by three at home over mercurial Ole Miss. They lost at Akron and at Belmont in addition to losing by 21 in a semi-road game to Florida. None of those results are poor in a vacuum, but it was small-sample evidence that this team couldn’t handle NCAA tournament caliber opposition. And for the most part against the Gaels, MTSU did look outclassed. It was not a good showing for a smaller-conference team. The Gaels are decent but not of the caliber of the past few years, either.

The selection committee from year to year is not supposed to consider past history when evaluating teams, but you’d have to think next year’s committee (comprised of eight of the same 10 people from this year) will think twice before validating a really empty profile with a bid just because a team won a bunch of games, home or road, against mediocre or bad teams.

4 comments
Darrell1
Darrell1

Look guys, all you do for half the year is analyze teams based on "profiles." That's only *part* of the equation. Or should be. Frankly, it concerns me that the selection committee is starting to line up too closely with what the so-called experts are saying. This year they were "off" by no more than one team. I find that alarming. Coimmittee members should trust their own instincts rather than being influenced by Internet guys who are being paid to develop another way of looking at the tournament. I'm not a fan of the SEC (from Texas, so far from it), but this year the numbers guys decided the SEC sucked which caught the SEC teams up in a vicious cycle. They had no way to raise their profile in conference games, which are the No. 1 factor in juicing up a team's "profile" to begin with. This is the same vicious cycle that prevents small conference teams from building a good profile. How do you get a bunch of wins against top 100 teams when your conference doesn't have any? On the other hand, if you're in a league like the Big 10, where just about everyone is in the Top 100, even going 8-10 in your league is considered a great thing. Minnesota is a prime example of a team that should not have been in the NCAA this year. Their "profile" is just juiced up by scheduling.

Steve__Edwards
Steve__Edwards

So I take it you think Kentucky would have been a better choice, which will look even more prophetic when they dominate the NIT. Oh, wait...

Darrell1
Darrell1

I get so tired of these Internet guys preaching about profiles, empty or not. Frankly, their own arguments have become empty. So, you'd rather the NCAA reward mediocrity from a big conference instead of giving an occasional lesser conference team a shot? If you don't count the A10 and MWC as "minor" conferences (and I don't), the NCAA bestowed a grand total of three at-large bids on small conference schools and then made two of them play each other right off the bat. If anything, I think the committee whiffed this year by listening to you guys too much and not putting in another good small conference team, SFA, which played a great game on the road against Stanford in the NIT. 

OK, maybe Middle Tennessee didnt turn out that great (unfair to rate them on one game), but the committee was right to give them a shot. Remember a few years ago another small conference "empty profile" that got an NCAA bid went all the way to the Final Four (VCU)/. I wish the committee would spend more time watching games and less reading about "profiles." 

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

Andy,


Are you delusional?  St Mary's has lost three games since mid-December--all to the #1 team in the country.  No doubt you think Gonzaga is suspect.  Please.  The Zags play all comers, though the East Coast teams can't seem to find their way past the Mississippi.