The proof that college basketball has become as corrupt as college football was right in the NCAA selection room on Sunday night.
By all NCAA criteria, Temple’s resume was superior to that of both UCLA and Indiana in every respect except the one that should not have mattered at all: Its athletic program was not a member of the Power 5, which has taken over the NCAA and remade it into its own playpen.
The NCAA’s No. 1 criteria is RPI, and Temple’s RPI of 34 was better than the RPI of Georgia, Ohio State, Texas, Iowa, UCLA and Oklahoma State, along with six other teams in the tournament. Another factor the NCAA says weighs heavily is how the team plays down the stretch, and Temple won 10 of its final 12 games, a superior run to most of the schools in the 68-team field, let alone the Power 5 schools.
UCLA getting in over Temple was particularly galling. Temple’s record was 23-10, while UCLA’s was 20-13. Temple’s RPI was 34, while UCLA’s was 47; Temple’s record against the RPI top 100 was 8-8, while UCLA’s was 5-10. Temple’s best win against the RPI top 100 was Kansas (No. 2), while UCLA’s was against Utah (No. 20). Temple’s conference record was 13-5, while UCLA’s conference record was 11-7.
Most bracketologists dismissed Steve Alford’s team from the field altogether, but UCLA comfortably made the field of 68 while also avoiding a First Four game in Dayton. Most of those same bracketologists had Temple comfortably in the field.
Those experts assumed that the selection committee would follow its own guidelines, but failed to consider the fact that the Power 5 gets what it wants. That’s the reason why Sunday was a sad day not only for fans of Temple, but for all fair-minded sports fans.