Sunday, March 15, 2009

Northwestern Disrespected by NIT Committee

During this up and down Northwestern basketball season I have tried my best to keep an even keel with what I wrote on this blog. This post will not retain that even keel. Let’s begin…

Tonight the NIT Selection Committee showed they have little understanding of basketball by seeding Northwestern 5th in their region and sending them to Tulsa to play the Golden Hurricanes. Meanwhile, Notre Dame, a team with a worse RPI than NU and only 18 total wins, one over a non-division 1 team (therefore 17 just like NU), got a two seed. In addition, Illinois State who had a better RPI and more wins than either Northwestern or Notre Dame also got a #5-seed and will travel to Manhattan, Kansas to play Kansas State. ISU’s RPI is # 48, Kansas State’s #82. These seeding are harder to understand than the vocabulary in a David Foster Wallace novel.

It seems the NIT Selection Committee didn’t even bother to look at items like RPI or top-50 wins (Notre Dame had TWO) or anything other than reputation and total wins. For example, Illinois State beat Creighton by 18 points (Hey, NIT committee that’s almost 20), however, Creighton is a number 1-seed, ISU is a 5-seed. Does this make sense? How about Niagara as a #3-seed? Sure, they have 26 wins, but I would be very happy to go to Niagara and play them. Their best win is over Siena (their ONLY (read:1) top 50 win), an NCAA #9-seed. Northwestern’s best win is over Michigan State, an NCAA #2-seed. Obviously, the NIT Selection Committee must have missed this fact when they discussing how to seed the field. Virginia Tech also happens to have received a #2-seed. How many top-50 wins do you think they have? NIT Committee? Coach Keady? C.M. Newton (the M must stand for misinformed) Virginia Tech has 2. Same as Notre Dame. Apparently, the key to being a two seed in the NIT is to only beat TWO top-50 teams. Northwestern has SIX in case you need to know. I'm not a math major, but six is four more than two. I know that. I could write more, but I’m angry and I think I’ve made my points. Oh, also our game is on ESPNU, so good luck seeing it if you’ve got Comcast. Thanks NIT Committee, thanks a lot.

If you want to write the NIT Selection Committee to inform them of their clear failure to fairly seed the teams they can be reached at:
60 East 42nd Street, Suite 660
New York, New York 10165-0015


NUCubs said...

While I had a little hope we'd land a 4 seed, I was expecting us to get an unfair 5 or 6 seed. The way it played out is even more ridiculous than I would have thought, though.

Lunker 35 said...

I like your idea to mail them!

John said...

I don't like where Northwestern got seeded either, but looking at numbers outside of RPI, it can be argued that the best teams got the best seeds.

That said, it seems like the committee lucked into by focusing way too heavily on the total number of wins and not the quality of them.

Also, the committee worked hard to make geographically logical match-ups and I think that hurt the seeding process.

Closso said...

Anyone know if you can get ESPNU games on espn360? If not I have no way to watch, which would piss me off to no end.

John said...

If you're lucky enough to have ESPN360 (you don't if you have Comcast) then you certainly can watch ESPNU games on it. I watched some smaller tournament games that way.

Binge Thinking said...

Pomeroy rankings:
Notre Dame - 37
Virginia Tech - 57
Illinois State - 62
NU - 64

Sagarin rankings:
Notre Dame - 42
Northwestern - 54
Virginia Tech - 57
Illinois State - 71

That's my lazy way of being devil's advocate.

Closso said...

Well 360 is available to pretty much all college campuses (NU included) so I'm set there. I don't see our game on the espn360 schedule though... maybe they just haven't updated it yet. Although there are some other NIT games on it.

Where's everyone who doesn't get it plan on watching?

SmokeOnTheWater said...

While I also think NU deserved a home game, I don't think this particular line of argumentation is remotely fair. Notre Dame played one of the toughest schedules in the country, especially January/February's death march through the Big East powers. I'm not saying who is better than who, but top-50 wins isn't the only barometer. If it was, I don't see why you aren't furious the Cats are at worst a 10 seed in the Big Dance.
As for ISU and Creighton, one game is hardly a microcosm. You must know that the slightest bit of objective, hollistic research suggests that Creighton was a bubble team and ISU was a middling NIT team.

I'm not disagreeing, I'm just saying that manipulating evidence to say that other people are manipulating evidence is pretty shallow. We're Northwestern - surely we can do better than that.

SmokeOnTheWater said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MF said...

This entire dicussion is moot. Fairness-in-seeding is IRRELEVANT for the NIT.

Both the NIT and the NCAA tournaments are about money. No logical being disputes that anymore. BUT, the NCAA tournament enjoys the luxury of being America's biggest event in March. Every gym is sold out. TV ratings are a given. Sure, CBS would love to see four #1 seeds in the Final Four, but the cinderella story is a HUGE play for CBS and the NCAA.

The NIT does not have that same luxury. They need ticket revenue and they need TV ratings. Look at the schools who are hosting. They have great attendance and sizeable arenas, if not big ones. NU and ISU didn't get home games because the NIT couldn't be certain they would sell more than 6,000 seats. Also, the bracket is designed to get the biggest name teams to Madison Square Garden and improve the NIT's odds at delivering good TV ratings. That's the way it is. Just get over it.

And for historical perspective... The NIT used to be a much bigger deal before the NCAA expanded to 64teams in 1985. At the time, the NIT had a requirement that any host school must have an arena with at least 10,000 seats. When Welsh-Ryan was renovated in 1982-1983, the architect said that with ALL bleachers, Welsh Ryan would hold 10,100. But giving the suits their purple seats would reduce capacity to 8,500. That's why some were pissed when the purple seats arrived. Luckily, the NIT had to lose that rule once its relevance faded (hence us hosting an NIT game in 1994).

Cat Lifer said...

Notre Dame didn't play that much tougher schedule than NU. ND's SOS was 40, NU's was 44. I just wonder, if NU would have won one more game would they have been a 4-seed? If they'd won two more would they have been in the NCAA Tournament? As many good moments at this season has had, it has also been very frustrating.