One Afternoon In March (Doesn’t Mean More Than That)

72-70 (OT). 70-51. Immediate referendums on difficult decisions made in a closed off room? Or the result of two days and nights of random events?

In case you didn’t realize, those are the scores of the Iowa-Temple and Syracuse-Dayton contests.

These results are being used as giant referendums on the how the committee selected and seeded the field. And unfortunately that’s not fair.

There are terrible issues with how the committee selects and seed (don’t I know it). The system is unfairly rigged against mid-majors, who always seem to do better when they get onto the neutral courts of March. But the committee tried, within its limited mandate and with its outdated metrics, to pick the teams it thought were most deserving to play in this chaotic, beautiful tournament.

One of those teams was Temple. The Owls found themselves amongst that chaos early and often on Friday afternoon. First it was Iowa’s early barrage of three-pointers. Then it was a foul on a three-pointer (and three made free throws) to force overtime. And then it was a bounce off the rim, (maybe a missed push in the back) and a put-back loss.

The Owls were the American Athletic Conference champion and made it relatively safely into the field. Why was a little unclear (they had some good wins in the AAC, but had done precious little in non-conference), but they were here. And if Adam Woodbury doesn’t grab that offensive rebound maybe they’re still playing.

Another one of those teams was Syracuse. The Orange seemed to take all of Jim Boeheim’s angst, the doubts and resentment as fuel for their infuriating 2-3 zone. Dayton was perplexed and shot just 32% from the field in a 19-point victory for Syracuse.

But that win doesn’t validate Syracuse’s selection anymore than Temple’s 2-point overtime loss invalidates the Owls’ appearance. Fans want to draw some greater meaning from a basketball contest, but all we did was put some seeds into a random number generator. The Orange happened to win the lottery on Friday and the Owls didn’t.

So while Boeheim prepares for Middle Tennessee State (!) on Sunday, Fran Dunphy gets to wonder “What if?” for another offseason.

Neither result means anymore than what happened during one crazy afternoon in March.

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