Sunday, March 11, 2012

Iona Didn't Deserve Its NCAA Berth? Think Again

There are times that this scribe shakes his head at some of the things that get written these days, and the debate over teams that should or shouldn't get into the NCAA tournament usually brings out plenty of that.

This year is no exception, and one particular opinion piece by national college basketball writer Jeff Goodman that appears on the cbssportsline website is most definitely a head-shaker.

The headline is this: "Honestly, Iona in this year's tournament is a joke."

The joke is that someone with a national forum would take that strong opinion for any reason other than to stir up controversy. But, the national opinion makers need to find something to editorialize about, and the subject of displaced ire often gets directed at mid-major programs like Iona that somehow make the tournament field over sacred-cow programs that finish in the lower half of power-conference standings.

Here's the piece, in its entirety, for those of you MAAC followers who want to get a good chuckle:

In summation, Goodman opines that Iona, despite a 25-7 overall record and the No. 40 position in the most recent Ratings Percentage Index (and, remember, 68 teams comprise the NCAA tournament field), didn't do enough to justify its at-large berth.

Goodman points out "bad" losses, ones within the league season, in particular.

But, what's wrong with losing games to Loyola (headed to the NCAA's), to Manhattan (headed to the tournament) and at Siena (8-1 on its home court vs. MAAC teams this season)?

No shame there.

Goodman does point out that there was one particularly bad loss, a setback at 10-22 Hofstra. No argument with that. But, isn't any team entitled to one off night? Heck, even Kentucky lost a game this season.

He points out that Iona lost at Marshall ... no shame in that, either. The Thundering Herd finished 21-13 and are headed to the NIT.

What Goodman doesn't mention is a 9-3 Iona record against a non-conference schedule rated 44th best in the country, or five victories over teams rated in the top 100, or an 11-4 record on opponents' home courts and a 15-6 mark overall away from home (neutral sites included).

Iona doesn't deserve to be in the NCAA's? Goodman is wrong about that.

And, then, he points out that Iona only beat one non-conference team, LIU, that did advance to the NCAA field and, in his estimation, that's just not good enough.

Mr. Goodman, somehow, conveniently overlooked that Iona did indeed beat a second team in non-conference play that is part of the NCAA tournament field. On Dec. 7, the Gaels defeated Vermont.

And, let's not forget that the Gaels also beat the MAAC's automatic NCAA tournament qualifier, Loyola, during the regular-season in conference play. So, that's three teams in the national championship event that the Gaels beat during the regular season ... in case Mr. Goodman would care to notice.

Mr. Goodman's case against Iona? Not good enough.

His opinion isn't only a topic of strong debate, but he's factually wrong.

In the eyes of the NCAA selection committee -- and committee chair Jeff Hathaway said that Iona was no where near the last team selected for the tournament -- Iona had done plenty.

The only joke is that this particular columnist doesn't believe it. He's wrong about that, too.


James said...

Goodman is wrong on non-conference teams in the tourney....Iona beat Vermont in Vermont a week before Christmas, during finals, after playing in two different time zones.

He also fails to mention St. Joe's and Nevada two NIT teams that Iona beat, granted on home court.

When you add in Marshall and the three MAAC Teams in the CIT and NCAA tournament that means that Iona played 8 teams playing in some sort of post season tournament.

And let's not forget Iona was a buzzer beater away from beating Purdue and absolutley pasted Maryland a team who despite their sub-.500 conference record played much better than everyone thought they would this year.

I know you agree Iona deserved in but after listening to all the Drexel and Marshall fans complain that Iona got in on twitter I had to post this on your story.

Steve Amedio said...

James -- All I can say is this: You made my point as well, if not better, than I did.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for your passion and expertise.