Matt Bodie, of Hofstra and Prawfsblawg, is “a little outraged” at the NCAA tournament selection committee’s failure to invite Hofstra to the big dance.Â But what really gets Matt is that:
George Mason, a team that Hofstra beat twice, is going instead.Â George Mason had a slightly tougher out of conference schedule, but it has been tough to rationalize the two head-to-head losses.
Unable to find a reasonable explanation for the committee’s decision in favor of Mason over Hofstra, Matt (and many sportswriters) have turned to conspiracy theories.Â Here are the highlights of the controversy:
1.Â While Mason and Hofstra have similar records and RPIs, Hofstra beat Mason head to head twice this season.
2.Â Tony Skinn, one of Mason’s best players, is suspended for the first round game.
3.Â GMU’s Athletic Director is onÂ the selection committee, though out of the room for discussions of Mason.Â If that isn’t enough, apparently, the head of the committee (Craig Littlepage) is a good friend of GMU’s Coach Larranaga.
While I appreciate Matt’s loyalty to his home institution, the same loyalty requires me to defend GMU’s basketball squad from theseÂ attacks by offering two points in defense of selecting my home institution:
1.Â Hofstra does not have a signature non-conference win.Â Mason beat Wichita State on the road (RPI 27, and a #7 seed in the tournament), and UNC-Wilmington (whom Hofstra also beat).
2.Â Mason plays a tougher schedule (four of theirÂ seven losses came against top 50 teams, e.g., Wake Forest and Mississippi State).
If I were a Hofstra fan, I too would be irked that a team we beat twice in the last 10 days of the season was selected in lieu of my squad.Â But that does not mean the committee made the wrong decision (though I realize reasonable minds may disagree here).Â Let us not forget that the unit of analysis is supposed to be the team’s “body of work” over the entire season.Â In my humble opinion, Mason’s body of work is superior to Hofstra’s even with the two head to head losses.Â As much fun as it is to point at larger, more mysterious forces, isn’t this the most plausible reason that Mason gets at least one more game this year while Hofstra heads to the NIT?Â
P.S. My Final Four picks are: Texas, UCLA (Go Bruins!), UCONN, and Boston College.