As usual, when the NCAA announces the field for the Men's Basketball Championship, there is celebration for the 65 schools that made the cut, and something less than that for the 10 or so who thought they had a shot but didn't make the cut. This year, the bubbles burst for teams like Notre Dame, Indiana, and Maryland, all of whom are housed in "power conferences" (the term used to describe the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC). Other teams left out included DePaul, St. Joseph's, Buffalo, Miami (Ohio), and Wichita State.
So far, the most whining on record has come from Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon, who told The Buffalo News that "I just feel bad for the guys because . . . I think it's their belief that there's really a process and a selection and there's criteria to be looked at. I don't want to be the one to tell them that there are agendas." Witherspoon was quoted in a whine-fest by Bob DiCesare, in which DiCesare tries to mislead his readers into thinking that Buffalo lost out to a bunch of mediocre teams from "power conferences".
In the real world, the numbers indicate that Buffalo didn't lose out to power conference members. The numbers indicate that the last three at-large bids went to Alabama-Birmingham, Northern Iowa, and UCLA. Yes, UCLA is in the Pac-10. But when did UAB and Northern Iowa join power conferences? The numbers don't support an argument that the NCAA is only looking out for the "big-money schools". That argument died about a decade ago.
There were 34 at-large bids handed out for this year's NCAA Tournament. 25 of those bids went to teams in the "power conferences". 23 of those 25 bids are difficult, if not impossible, for rational people to argue. An amazing nine bids went to "mid-major" teams. I don't know for sure, but I think that's at least close to some sort of record. It's hard to imagine mid-major teams whining about an overall lack of exclusion in this tournament. Big steps have been made to make this process fairer for everyone involved.