A Twitter conversation last night between the BC blogger CBNB and the Raleigh News & Observer caused me to jump into the telephone booth, throw on a cape, and come to BC's rescue. The conversation went down like this:
accnow: Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg must be sick after watching UAB prove it did not belong in the NCAA tournament in pummeling by Clemson.
CBNB: @accnow Couldn't the same be said for BC? BC beat VT twice this year
accnow: @CBNB Losing at home to Harvard and Yale doomed BC. The Eagles lost to Rhode Island, too. That's too many bad losses.
CBNB: @accnow Yeah Harvard with an RPI of 35...what a terrible loss. VT lost to UVA twice and GT and somehow they were totally robbed
accnow: @CBNB The difference is, Virginia Tech beat a No. 1 seed two weeks ago. That to me is where the Hokies beat out BC.
First off, let me state that I'm not going to justify BC's loss to Yale. Simply, that was a bad loss. It's not Maine bad or Robert Morris bad, but still bad. But let's stop pretending that BC's loss to Harvard kept the Eagles out of this year's NCAA Tournament Field of 68.
Harvard was a bubble team this year with an RPI of 35. Don't like RPI as a statistical? Fine. The Crimson also had a kenpom rating of 77 (pre Oklahoma State loss). That kenpom rating just so happens to be better than the bottom four teams in the ACC -- Virginia, Georgia Tech, N.C. State and (way better than) Wake Forest.
Harvard forced a one-game, winner-take-all playoff with Princeton this season, and came within a last-second buzzer beater of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1940s. The Crimson notched wins over both BC and Colorado, who saw their bubbles burst on Sunday, and pushed NCAA Tournament-bound Michigan to the limit, losing by 3 in Ann Arbor. I'm not exactly sure a loss on January 5 to a fellow bubble team qualifies as a bad loss.
Want to know who else lost to a bubble team in the last week of the season but still managed to find its way into the Field of 68? Georgia, who lost to Alabama twice in a week but managed a 10 seed in this year's tournament. Alabama's partying gift was a 1 seed in the NIT.
Even Harvard stat geeks think the Crimson got a lot of consideration from the Selection Committee and could have gotten in over a team like 19-14 USC. I tend to agree with them.
Now if you want to point to a lack of quality wins that kept BC out of the NCAA Tournament, you could certainly make that argument (though Clemson and UAB went a combined 0-8 against the RPI Top 50 with not a quality win to be found on either's resume). But don't go saying that BC didn't get in because of too many bad losses. The "too many bad losses" is relative, and that argument really starts to break down when you consider that the last few teams into the NCAA Tournament lost to these fine basketball-playing institutions (kenpom rating in parenthesis):
VCU: Georgia State (233), South Florida (132), Northeastern (194), James Madison (117), Drexel (101)
UAB: East Carolina (146), Arizona State (119), Tulsa (93), Memphis (91), Memphis (91)
USC: Bradley (189), TCU (168), Oregon State (158), Rider (137), Oregon (87), Oregon (87)
Villanova: South Florida (132), Providence (97), Rutgers (74)
Clemson: South Carolina (125), Virginia (96)
Virginia Tech: Virginia (96), Virginia (96), Georgia Tech (86)
Alabama: St. Peter's (116), Arkansas (100), Providence (97), Iowa (81)
Colorado: San Francisco (147), Oklahoma (128), Harvard (77)
Boston College, in comparison, had "bad losses" to Yale (195), Rhode Island (123) and Harvard (77). That loss to Harvard starts to shine in comparison to some of these other losses suffered by NCAA Tournament teams.
Like I said, you can point to a lack of quality wins as a reason BC got left out of the Dance. That's perfectly valid. Jackson's three pointer at the buzzer against UNC rattled out, and the Texas A&M win feels like decades ago. I'll rightly admit that Virginia Tech's win over Duke does look great in comparison.
You can also point to the losses to Yale and Rhode Island as bad losses that kept BC out. But we need to put an end to the notion that the Eagles' loss to the Crimson somehow kept Boston College out of the NCAA Tournament.
I feel SO terrible that Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg had to watch UAB get crushed by Clemson in last night's First Four matchup. We all need to stop humoring this guy and throwing him a pity party for not making the Dance. The Hokies had their opportunity to make this year's NCAA Tournament Field of 68. They just blew it. Want to make the NCAA Tournament? Don't go 0-5 against Virginia, BC and Clemson.