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