Robert Morris goes to NCAA tournament

3.11.10   11:05 a.m.

Today is a big day in the lives of the guys on the Robert Morris basketball team. They’re going to the NCAA tournament. They got the automatic bid by beating Quinnipiac for the Northeast Conference title last night. They should be happy and proud and I don’t want to be a party pooper, but, I don’t think they should be going.

There will be at least 32 teams that I don’t think belong in the tournament. I’m sure you’ve seen the ridiculous numbers that show what an exercise in futility it is for a team like RMU to go to the tournament as a 15th or 16th seed. They’re celebrating the fact that they’re going to be cannon fodder. RMU’s going to play one game.

Wouldn’t it be more fun for the players to play in a tournament that they might have a chance to win? Teams like RMU that play in second and third tier conferences should be playing in a 32 team tournament that could result in a national championship.

Sorry, but I’ve just never bought into the heartwarming stories about the Robert Morrises of the world who are getting that once in a lifetime chance to dance on the big stage. There will be a close game or two and there may even be a huge upset by a 15 or 16 seed, but most of the games are boring blowouts.

Teams like RMU playing each other would provide more good basketball than what we’ll be getting from the 64 team tournament. I’ll never understand how leading a player to slaughter qualifies as doing him a favor.

  • George

    Agree with John. There are a lot of teams not in the tournament who could beat Robert Morris.
    I recognise the opposition’s points; however.
    We’ll score it like OT in hockey –
    Grouch 2, Loyal Opposition 1

  • john

    go rmu we are all rooting for you

  • OneEyedBlindMan

    Congrats to Robert Morris and to Mike Rice. It would be nice if Duquense could get back in the mix, then we would have three teams in the NCAA from the area.

  • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

    If the tournament were limited to 32 teams, you wouldn’t see the 9th best team in the Big Ten. There are way too many teams in the tournament. That’s what makes it a good tournament and lots of fun for lots of people but also one of the most overrated events of the year.

    • http://www.grandstander.blogspot.com The Grandstander

      John, on this point, I won’t argue with you 🙂

    • Ochotexto

      Its a great time of year; just enjoy the games and quit being such a Grouch for chrissakes !!

      • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

        Here’s what can make me grouchy: Duke 57 Monmouth 12 at the half.

  • JML

    My only problem with this is how many bad games have we seen in the final 4 and elite 8 the last few years. Just because one big school beats up on another why is that better?

    I think you should ask guys who play in those games what it meant to them.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I don’t need to ask the players if they were happy to play in the NCAA tournament. They’ve somehow been convinced that it’s an honor to have Duke beat you by 40. My point is that, the warm and fuzzy feelings created for the players doesn’t make for goof basketball. I’m speaking as a viewer looking for a good game. Once I digest the idea that it’s a wonderful thing for the players, why should I sit through a 40 point blowout. There is always a chance that any game in the tournament can be close or a blowout. I’m talking about the rule here, not the very few exceptions.

      • rat

        “why should I sit through a 40 point blowout.” That’s a very good question. Is someone sitting with a gun to your head forcing you to watch? If you don’t like the game, don’t watch, and let those hundreds of millions of people, including the participating teams, that do enjoy the first round of the NCAA tounament enjoy it, and you can tune in the following week. How’s that sound?

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          Amazing! Who told you that I do that? How did you know? It’s not hundreds of millions and the ratings have been decreasing every year. I’m not saying anybody’s being forced to watch anything. I’m simply saying that the heartwarming stories about the kids getting to go to the big dance don’t make the blowouts any more interesting.

  • Thomas

    John,

    I have to disagree with you on this one. The kids a Robert Morris get to play in the limelight. Their one time on the big stage. That is more important than playing in some other game. They did just that by winning the NEC.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I realize it’s great for the RMU kids. History has shown that it’s not so great for people who want to see a competitive basketball game. The heartwarming stories are nice but they lose their niceness when it’s 37-12 in the first half. There’s always the possibility that RMU will pull of aspectacular upset or play a competitive game but mostly what the heartwarming stories produce is bad basketball.

  • Kek

    Snob point of view, you must agree with Jay Bilas and his “the best 65 teams should make the tournament so do away with the conference tournaments”. If you can’t appreciate the spectacle that is the first two days of the NCAA Tournament, well, you’re more out of touch than I thought you were when you were still on KDKA-TV.

    By your logic, if you’re doing a bracket sheet, just picked the better seed, in every case. Anyone running a pool would be glad to take your donation.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Yeah. What a crazy idea. Invite the most deserving teams to the tournament that’s supposed to decide the national championship. I’m going to seek some counseling to find out why I can’t enjoy watching Villanova beat Wofford 97-45.

      • http://www.trojannation.net Kek

        I think you’re missing a big point here. With 347 teams in 32 conferences, D1 basketball is so huge in scope that you can’t really rank 1-64 because teams in smaller conferences that are really good would never make it because the rankings would be biased in favor of the bigger conferences. If you want what you’re proposing, just take the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10 and SEC and dump all the small conferences in something you could call 1-AA and let them have their own national title. I just don’t think that would be nearly as exciting as what we have now. Keep in mind we’ve had 5 instances of a #16 coming within 5 points of a #1, four times a #15 has beaten a #2 and even had a #14 make the sweet 16. Heck, look at the runs to the final four of George Mason and Penn (which was more impressive because it was in ’79 when there were fewer teams in the bracket). If you want “the best teams” only (let’s ignore how subjective that statement really is for a moment), I think you set yourself up for a boring tournament and what we have now is great. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          I don’t think I’m missing the point at all. I want a tournament that is made up of teams that are equal in stature. Who would pay attention to a football tournament that had Slippery Rock playing USC in the first round? It would be a thrill for Slippery Rock to get on national TV and lose 84-0, right? One out of 100 #14 seeds have made it to the Sweet 16? You consider that evidence to support the tournament in its present form. I consider it evidence that the tournament we have now is grossly overrated when it comes to unpredictability. So, yes, I’m, for dumping all the small conferences in something you could call 1-AA and letting them play for their own national title.

          • http://www.trojannation.net Kek

            Well, Slippery Rock is Division 2, which does have its own tournament so that’s apples and oranges but I get your point. If you’d want a 1-AA hoops situation, that’s just something I’ll have to agree to disagree with you about. I mean Pitt lost to Pacific in the first round not too long ago and were beaten by Bradley in the second round in recent appearances.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            I think the record of the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th seeds is 40-360 since the tournament went to 64 teams. I’m glad that created lots of great memories for the players involved. It didn’t creat3 very much great basketball. Obviously, there were exceptions.

  • Cheese

    I understand your point, the overall quality of the NCAA Tournament would be much better if they replaced the small conference tournament winners with the major conference teams who just missed out. And I agree with that.

    But think about it this way… For 2 hours next week, Robert Morris basketball will actually be relevant nationally. Everyone will fill out their bracket and see Robert Morris right there with the big boys. And while their chances to win are nothing short of astronomical, there’s still a chance. The best 3 words in sports are “you never know”. An 11 seed from the Colonial Athletic Association went to the Final Four less than 5 years ago.

    I feel like most mid-major teams would rather fight and lose playing against the best rather than play in a meaningless tournament that draws no interest.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I think that after the joy of getting there, teams are rudely awakened to the truth that they don’t belong on the court with the big boys. It’s all a little phony to me. And they’re talking about going to 96 teams. That’s ridiculous.
      Thanks
      JS

      • PartiallyImpartial

        John,
        I would agree with your post that teams 33-64 could play in a secondary tournament, and it would be exciting basketball. However, it would be viewed as a distant cousin to “The Dance”. Look at the NIT. How many references such as “the Not Important Tournament”, or “The Battle To Be #66” will we hear in the next few weeks? The NIT produces some really competitive basketball, yet we’re lucky to get line scores in the papers. The media gives it no respect, therefore the public does likewise. So, in that respect, I’m glad teams like Robert Morris get in. To me, the first round of the tournament is the best. Additionally, the Colonials will get on national TV (because more than likely they’ll be playing a #1 seed). At worst, they’ll be on regional TV. And, they’ll be getting a check, which will go to furthering the athletic program. And anytime Mike Rice and TV go together, it’s sure to be interesting.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          The NIT is made up of major programs that didn’t get into the NCAA tournament because those spots were taken by the cannon fodder teams. I’m talking about a tournament to determine a national championship for teams that are in RMU’s class. I have to think they would make more money playing several games, mostof which would be on TV somewhere.

          • PartiallyImpartial

            That would be very interesting. Unfortunately, with 96 teams on the horizon, it looks like it would be CCAC Boyce battling it out with WV Wesleyan on ESPN 12 for the title.

  • rat

    spoken like someone who has never played the game…..

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Yep.

  • Patrick

    Well, the same could’ve been said for Gonzaga as lately as 10 years ago. Their chance to shine in the NCAA tournament basically put them on the map and helped them build their program into a perennial contender. And lets not forget the George Mason team that went to the Final Four. and the Southern Illinois and Kent States make good runs to the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight pretty often. So…why not give them a chance to upset a few of the teams from the Big Boy conferences? I’d rather see little guys that earned the trip than middling teams from the Big East or ACC.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I grant you that there are exceptions. I just think you have to wade through a lot of terrible blowouts that you wouldn’t pay a quarter to see.

      • Patrick

        The exceptions are the point of the tournament, John. Yes, there are blowouts. If you let the 8th team in the ACC into the tournament, they would probably get blown out by a 1 or 2 seed as well. But its not like the tournaments are bereft of upsets; they happen every year. And they’re one of the reasons that its so popular. People like to see a Gonzaga, George Mason, etc make a run. And its fairly common that one of the lower seeds do.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          Since the tournament went to 64 teams:
          The # 16 seed is 0-100 against the #1 seed
          The #15 seed is 4-96 against the #2 seed
          The #14 seed is 15-85 against the #3 seed
          The 13 seed is 21-79 against the #4 seed.
          Thats 44-360.
          Come on. Please. Don’t tell me that I’m taking a big chance of missing a rousing upset if I don’t watch these games.
          The last time one of the top four seeds didn’t win the tournament was 1988. That’s 22 years ago.
          These numbers are courtesy of John Harris of the Trib who wrote a column on the subject a few days ago.
          Here are some more:
          Since the 2006 tournament no team seeded lower than 4 has made it to the Final Four.
          I like good competition. I’m not interested in how happy all those 15 seed players are. That does nothing to enhance my enjoyment of the game.

          • Patrick

            Since 2006? That’s how far back you’re going? Jeez, way to work your way back in time all of four years. and 44 out of 360 is a little over 12% of the time for the 4 worst seeds against the four best seeds. I think that’s a pretty good percentage, actually. That means in the first round, one of the favorites is knocked out by one of the little guys in a little better than 1 in 3 tournaments. I’m sure the percentage of upsets skew higher if you include the 11 and 12 seeds.

            But none of that is the point, of course. You’re argument is that you want to exclude all of the teams from small conferences because they lose most of the time and you don’t enjoy blowouts. But there is precedent that these teams are not automatic outs; some of the time (at a rate of better than 1 in 10 times), they upset the goliaths and sometimes make runs deep into the tournament. Its what gives the tournament its flavor. Its what makes it popular. People love it because of the upsets. Your suggestion is to punish the schools in the small conferences by excluding them from a chance at a national championship because they lose “most of the time”. What would be the point of the tournament if you’re only going to include teams from the power conferences? It’d be as bad as the BCS, which is awful.

          • Patrick

            By the way, what happened to the other posts? Did Big Ben’s lawyers give you a phone call?

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            I hit the trash button by mistake. I’m new at this blogging thing. i’ve since reiterated what I said in the original post.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            You’re arguing with arithmetic now. We’re talking 4-196 for the 15th and 16th seeds. I don’t want to punish anybody. Mt Lebanon High School’s not invited, either. Not because they’re being punished. Because they don’t belong there. I realize I’m in the minority on this. That’s OK. I also can’t understand why more than 500 people show up to see Penn State play Akron. Or Florida play Charleston South or whoever it was they beat by about 70 points last season in front of 100,000 people. Fans used to demand better than that. Let me know how those 1 vs 16 games turn out.

          • Patrick

            Its just the arithmatic you gave me.

            The Mt. Lebanon HS comparison is illogical. They don’t let them in because they’re a high school team. Apples to Oranges. They don’t let a team of orangutans play either, but that doesn’t make it a valid point.

            The teams who you’d exclude have to win their conference or conference tournament so yes, you would be punishing them by excluding them from the NCAA tournament. You want to basically adopt the BCS model to college basketball. Exclude Boise State because they’d obviously lose to Oklahoma. Oh…wait.

            I mean, what would the criteria be? You just assume the 8th best team in a power conference is better than the first place team in the MAC? Who is to say who the 64 best teams are? I’m sure it would be far from anonymous.

            You don’t want to watch blowouts, and that’s fine. But I can’t think of a better model than the one that currently exists. Letting in crappy teams from power conferences at the expense of the little guys isn’t going to eliminate blowouts. Adding a new tournament for the mid-majors in D-1 would water down both tournaments and take the excitement out of March.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            Mt Lebanon could go 25 years without winning a game. When the field was 32 teams, were 32 teams being punished? They don’t belong in the tournament. That’s obvious from their record over 25 years. I wasn’t invited to your wedding but that doesn’t mean I was punished. It meant that I had to business being there. Ican think of a better model than the one that exists. 32 teams. With the other 32 teams playing in a division II championship.