Mad Thoughts

Mad Thoughts: March MADness Brings Drama to MVC again

The NCAA Tournament selection committee reminded two Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) teams once again that if a team isn’t a member of one of the Power Five conferences, the “unbiased” March Madness committee looks down on them.

Wichita State a 10 seed?

For the sixth consecutive season, Wichita State University received a ticket to the Big Dance after destroying Illinois State University in the MVC conference tournament. And once again, the Shockers were ostracized.

History repeated itself as head coach Gregg Marshall and his squad were disappointed to find out come Selection Sunday that they were only a 10 seed. Last season, the Shockers were one of the last teams in, winning it way in the First Four as an 11 seed, but lost in the Second Round.

The Shockers’ impressive 30-4 record as a member of the MVC, a mid-major conference, isn’t the same as a 30-4 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). But Wichita State is ranked 11th in the nation in Sagarin and eighth in the KenPom rankings — two prominent national rankings determined using key statistical calculations. Yet the selection committee thought only a 10th seed was fitting? OK.

The 2013-14 Wichita State team was undefeated in the regular season, won its conference tournament and finished No. 2 in the nation. The Shockers also received a No. 1 seed in March Madness.

Compare any statistic — average points per game, scoring margin, field goal percentage, average rebounds per game — and the current team beats out the 2013-14 team in every category.

Let’s call a spade a spade. If you’re in the MVC, you won’t be treated like an elite basketball program unless you’re undefeated and win your conference tournament.

Coach Muller, ISU snubbed

After losing the Arch Madness championship game, Illinois State’s March Madness fate was in the air. The Redbirds had a dominant season, finishing with a regular season conference title and a 27-6 overall record.

But Selection Sunday came and went, and after the 64 teams were announced, Illinois State was left without a bid.

The Redbirds were heartbroken.

Illinois State had the 33rd best RPI in the country and were 51st in the KenPom rankings.

Head coach Dan Muller addressed the media after the March Madness bracket was announced.

“My team is crushed,” Muller told the media. “I feel terrible for them, especially for my seniors. We feel we should be in but we aren’t. It’s tough to take but we’ll have to gather ourselves and get ready for the NIT.”

The selection committee is notorious for using its trademark ideology — who do you play and who did you beat — when deciding who is gets to punch a ticket in and who is left behind.

Some critics point to the Redbirds’ nonconference schedule. In the Mountain West/MVC challenge, Illinois State beat the University of New Mexico, but its holiday tournament in Hawaii featured weak opponents such as the University of Hawaii and the University of Tulsa.

Muller, who’s aware this is part of the reason his team didn’t receive a bid, shared his frustration.

“We ask dozens of schools to play us every year and they won’t,” he said. “Don’t talk to me about scheduling.”

Muller went so far to call the Power Five conferences out on Twitter and he attached his own sassy “Bitmoji” caricature. And rightfully so.

In the past 20 years, MVC teams have averaged 0.59 home games a year against ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Southeastern Conference, Pac 12 and Big East teams. And of those few games, MVC teams have won 60 percent of them. Unfortunately, it makes sense why these teams don’t want to player mid-major programs: They have nothing to gain, but everything to lose.

The Redbirds’ season isn’t over; they received a No. 1 seed in the NIT and are expected to win it all.

Unfortunately, the situations with Wichita State and Illinois State are nothing new. Drama surrounds Selection Sunday every year.

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