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ASU’s NCAA Tournament resume pokes holes in selection process

Arizona State's Kimani Lawrence (14), along with Colorado's McKinley Wright IV (25) and Namon Wright (13), reaches for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Pac-12 men's tournament Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Las Vegas. Colorado defeated Arizona State 97-85. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

If Arizona State is included in the NCAA tournament field, the system is flawed.

If Arizona State is not included in the NCAA tournament field, the system is run by hypocrites.

In this year’s tournament, there’s a massive difference in who deserves to go to the dance and who belongs in the dance. The Sun Devils went 1-5 to end the season and close with an 8-11 record against teams in a throwaway conference — that is not worthy of a tournament bid. The catch is, the NCAA has trumpeted for the last eighth months its new magic word: “quadrant.”

The NCAA can’t be telling every college basketball fan it’s about the quadrant if ASU is heading to the NIT.

RPI stands for ratings percentage index. Since this enormous collection of schools of higher learning can’t use updated analytics, they use RPI — a terribly outdated metric — to rank teams based on the schedule they’ve played. All 347 Division I teams are ranked, and each win by an individual team is then ranked by which quadrant the win falls into. Quadrant 1 is any home win versus a team ranked 1-30, any neutral site win versus a team ranked 1-50 or any road win versus a team ranked 1-75. Quadrant 2, 3 and 4 continue in a spiral downward.

Imagine if I said my beloved Ohio Bobcats beat Villanova (they didn’t). You’d be impressed. Would you care if Ohio beat Utah Valley? Ignorantly, the tournament committee has decided beating RPI No. 2 Villanova at home is the same as beating RPI No. 74 Utah Valley in the vaunted UCCU Center.

In no way can I justify the ridiculous standard set up by the NCAA. I won’t justify including ASU basketball on Sunday’s Selection Show, either.

If the Devils wanted to be in the tournament, run an offense against Oregon. Make your free throws against Stanford. Guard the three-point line against Colorado.

Arizona State does not deserve a tournament bid but by the foolish criteria set-up for inclusion by the NCAA, they belong in the field. If ASU is left out, the entire tournament is a sham run by unqualified buffoons who are not worth the words they speak.

Do you think Ohio State is a tournament team? Everybody does. Ohio State has three wins versus Quadrant 1 teams and a .375 winning percentage in those games. ASU has three wins versus quadrant one teams and a .375 winning percentage in those games.

The NCAA committee for years has included “last 10” as a major criteria. How are you playing to end the season? Going 7-3 to end the season shows fire, playing your best at tournament time and separating yourself from the other teams on the bubble.

I thought “last 10” was a good type of bubble tie-breaker. The NCAA disagrees. For the 2018 season, they’ve done away with weighting February and March over November. They like the golf method. It doesn’t matter where the birdie or bogey occurs on your scorecard. You are judged by your total number of shots after 18 holes, or, in this case, following the conclusion of the season.

Since ASU’s end of the season flameout doesn’t matter, their 1-5 finish is irrelevant. Arizona State has the two biggest nonconference wins of the entire NCAA field beating Xavier in Vegas and Kansas in Lawrence. Arizona State played the third hardest nonconference schedule. ASU can’t control its conference schedule was 109th most difficult.

The NCAA for decades has stressed the importance of nonconference schedule in order to earn a bid to the tournament. One year, the NCAA went so far as putting in a below average Georgia team under Jim Harrick in the tournament because they played a brutal nonconference schedule. Following their new rules and elements of their old precedents, the Devils belong in the dance, even if they have to go to Dayton to begin the party.

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