In my post about Gary Williams and Maryland basketball program, I noted in passing that Maryland has been shut-out of the NCAA tournament the past few years in part because mid-major conferences are now more highly regarded than they were in the days when a .500 record in the ACC (plus a “sexy” win or two) pretty much guaranteed a trip to the tourney.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that break-even ACC teams should get to play for the national championship. The Maryland clubs in question spent an entire season proving that they weren’t good enough to have that right.
I feel the same way about teams that finish third, say, in mid-major conferences. A club that can neither crack the top two in a lesser conference nor win the conference tournament should stay at home with the middling ACC clubs, or play them in the NIT.
Unfortunately, television wants a 65 team tournament, minimum, and you can’t get to that number with just conference champions and top 25 teams.
I’m indifferent as to who should fill the excess slots. My sense is that the mid-major also-rans have done well enough in recent tournaments to justify their enhanced status, but I haven’t studied this and don’t intend to.
My only point was that Maryland’s inability consistently to make the tournament these days is due in part to a change in the standard applied to the Terps and other teams in their conference. Thus, pointing to Maryland’s absences from the tourney probably overstates the extent to which the program has faltered.
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