MARCH 20 OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER
Selection Sunday has come and gone and with it the hopes and dreams for an invitation to the dance for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Should we be surprised, disappointed or accepting of the fact that this team didn’t get an invite?
I feel a case could be made either way. First off, the goal of the NCAA tournament isn’t really to get the best 64 teams in, not with so many automatic bids going to conference and tournament champions of lower tier conferences.
Seriously, convince me that Liberty with a record of 15-20 is one of the 64 best teams. They’re not but they earned a ticket to the dance by winning their conference tournament and that’s the beauty of college basketball.
What does bother many Hawkeye fans is that Big Ten teams like Minnesota and Illinois, who finished behind Iowa in the conference standings, got an invite over the Hawks.
All year the basketball know-it-alls have been hyping the Big Ten as the best in all of college basketball but when it came time to make their selections, all of a sudden playing in the toughest conference didn’t seem to matter as much as playing a tougher non-conference schedule.
I guess if teams like Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia, for example, want to play in the big dance, even though they each won 20+ games, they need to dominate their conference, quit scheduling patsies and win a bunch of tough games on the road.
On the flip side of the argument on the discussion of weather the Hawks deserve to be in the tourney is they were just 2-8 on the road and both of those wins were against lower teams in the Big Ten.
Iowa has a young team and you know the scheduling was done with their youth in mind. Did it cost them an invite? It may have. The only other quality wins they have were against invitees Iowa State and Wisconsin.
So if one was to sit on the selection committee and not be wearing Hawkeye blinders, like many Hawk fans are, myself included, you can see why a team like Middle Tennessee State, with no wins over a top 100 team, deserved to dance before the Hawkeyes or Kentucky or Virginia. Yes, that noise you heard was me upchucking!