"Go home and write down all the teams you think that are on the bubble for the tournament. Then pick 34 to get in. You'll see it's harder than it looks."
Seth Davis says that laughing, almost taunting, neh, daring anyone to try and decide who should go dancing and who shouldn't. The fact of the matter is, he's right.This year's Selection Sunday is almost undoubtedly going to have more heartbreak than normal.
how crowded will it be? Just look at what we learned today.
Stephen Curry and Davidson will most likely have to win their conference tournament in order to get an invite. A month ago, we would've laughed at the fact. But today, as Butler, another team that better win their tournament just to be sure, handedly beat them at home in a game where Curry looked more like an obstacle for Davidson than the phenom he is said to be, all that seems to have changed.
And let's not forget about Maryland. They were already on the bubble and just knocked off #3 UNC. And they're probably still on the outside looking in. They'll most likely need to be Duke in their upcoming game and give a solid performance in the tournament just to have a fair shot. Who wouldathunkit?
But perhaps the craziest part of it all is the Big East, a conference that will likely send 8, possibly 9 teams to the tournament. You'd think with such a crowded load of temas already going the picture in the Big East would be pretty much set, right? Far from. Suppose the top 8 in the standings right now are good to get the nod. Then factor in Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Providence are still on the bubble. Then factor in that there are only 5 other teams in the 16-team conference. Then factor in that only one of those remaining 5 teams has an overall winning record.
Just step back and look at that as a bigger picture. 11 teams in one conference are still fighting to get into the tournament. There are 19 conferences in the NCAA with 11 teams or fewer!
But don't just blame the Big East for the crowded picture. Okay, do, but shake your fingers at these other guys. The ACC will most likely also send 8 and break some hearts in the process. The Pac-10 (named so for its 10 teams, if you didn't know) will send at least half of their teams. The Big 12 may only send somewhere between 3 and 5, they'll burst at least that many bubbles if not more.
It's crazy I know. And the worst part is, those who'll be the most upset come Selection Sunday will almost undoubtedly be the fans of Mid-Major schools. Just do the math, with three major conferences alone putting up 30 teams to contest for a total of 34 at-large seats, how can there be room for any Mid-Major team that is anything but spectacular this year?
To use a downright terrible metaphor, if the NCAA were a soft drink, this year it would be particularly fizzy going into selection sunday. And with only 34 bubbles able to stay afloat, the attrition rate looks to be painful.