Pete Thamel has an article in Yahoo this morning talking about the chances for North Texas to continue their run. The Mean Green are good — something we have written about all season in this space — but so are Tech, WKU, UAB and ODU. Only the first two have a chance to show that in post-season tournaments this season. WKU and Tech won their first round matchups this weekend (you are forgiven if you had not noticed) in the NIT and will face each other in the next round.
That kind of seeding may have been something of an oversight but it speaks to the lack of respect. Two CUSA teams capable of winning the NIT tournament will have to fight for one spot in the semifinal round. Western Kentucky had a good 20-win season where they challenged themselves and nearly won the conference — led by 7 in the final four minutes, after all. Louisiana Tech won the West division against a tougher schedule than WKU but a quirk injury leading up to the conference tournament threw off their rhythm just enough to make them vulnerable to a good NT squad.
None of this is indented to play Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda but to highlight that the difference between North Texas/WKU/Tech/UAB/ODU is not all that great. Whoever came out of the conference was going to give some single-digit seed a challenge. CUSA deserved an at-large bid. Did we need to see more of Missouri? Did we need to see more of UCLA? Did we need more Michigan State? No. We did not.
I get that the Spartans and Bruins are name-brands with huge followings but that sure seems like a great reason to let them boost the NIT ratings than waste our time with them in the First Four. Until something is done about a leadership change at the top, these kinds of things will continue. Just like the Emmert-led group has bungled the women’s tournament in spectacular fashion, they will continue to mess this up. The kinds of excuses that have come out about the disparities sure sound like the same pull-this-out-of-my-behind kind of reasoning for seeding and rewarding the 10th best teams in the power conferences over the 2nd1 best team in CUSA.
Until there are changes at the top, CUSA will continue to be the I-Told-You-So league as its champion wins in the first round like they have five of the last six times we held a big tournament. 2