Some mistakes are so egregious it calls every other accomplishment into question.
Let’s make a comparison but keep the example basic enough that the tournament committee can keep up with the analogy. Imagine a math test for a grad student advancing to receive his doctorate. The test is filled with advanced formulas and equations the rest of us mortals could never understand, yet addition is mixed in throughout the test. The NCAA tournament committee correctly answered many of the difficult problems. The problem is when they argue that 2+2=5, it calls into question the entire bracket.
This isn’t an argument about whether or not the championship is tainted. Winning six one-and-done tournament games is a fine way to determine a champion. There isn’t a dark cloud hanging over the tournament because Richmond didn’t make the field. The problem is the thrill of college basketball, rightly or wrongly, starts with making the NCAA tournament field. The hypocrisy of this committee has reached an all-time high with the inclusion of UCLA.
UCLA finished strong according to the committee. Two of their wins were against a disastrous USC team. All of their finishing wins were at home or a neutral site. They couldn’t beat ASU on the road. The biggest non-conference win was at home against UAB. The Bruins even lost to an Alabama team that gave so little regard to beating UCLA they fired their head coach after the season.
This isn’t an argument for one particular team to enter the tournament. Richmond, Temple, Colorado State, Texas A&M and Old Dominion are all better candidates than UCLA. Of course, the Spiders’ chance at a national chance wasn’t crushed by the committee. Sure, they could have played better throughout the season to earn a spot and avoid the bubble. The point is not what Richmond did; it’s what UCLA didn’t come close to doing.
What criteria are you using committee? If it’s the eye test, was it the seven points they scored against Kentucky that impressed you? What did your eyes see when UCLA scored 39 points at Utah? Every big name team UCLA played in the non-conference was a double-digit loss. UCLA was 2-8 versus tournament teams and 0-8 against those teams on the road.
If you want to use metrics, we can play that game, too. UCLA’s RPI was 48th to Colorado State’s 30. UCLA totally outranks Richmond, CSU and ODU in the BPI so that must be why UCLA slipped into the tournament. Oh wait, Dayton, BYU and Ole Miss are all ranked higher in the BPI yet the committee says all three must go into the first four games to prove their mettle. Can you actually use the BPI to justify getting in just to ignore it when UCLA avoids being put into a play-in game?
No matter the metric or well-trained eyeball used, UCLA does not belong in the 2015 NCAA tournament. Just like youth sports everywhere, a bunch of adults got into a room and screwed it up for kids. Sorry Spiders, Rams, Owls, Aggies and Monarchs. You’re not in the tournament this year because a bunch of old men in a room know John Wooden better than they know you.