Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kevin Durant would get an 8-seed by himself

... and would probably be favored in the second round over that region's 1-seed, even if he were 14 inches tall. He would be able to beat every team in the country, with his superior blah, and blah, and OMG lengthz0rz. Why do I point this out? Because now that we're getting close to Selection Sunday, people are starting to really take closer looks at "resumes" in order to parse out where exactly "the bubble" is and where exactly certain teams will fall on and around said "bubble." And the talking heads who have been rightfully praising Texas uberfrosh Kevin Durant all year are starting to take their mancrushes a little too far. Not into "gross" territory, but into headshaking territory.

I bring this up because, for some reason, I watched part of ESPN's "College Gameday (for basketball, you know, one of those sports that's not the NFL)" this past Saturday, and they were doing a neat little segment called "blind resume" wherein they would put up only the resumes of two teams, then let the analcysts talk about which team had the "better" "resume", and then they would reveal the names of the teams, with hopefully astonishing results and a bunch of hemming and hawing from Digger, Jay, and ... Hubert Davis(?). Well, they put up a couple of resumes, and the teams had similar records (18-8 to 18-7) with similar RPIs, and the team with 8 losses had the better SOS and more wins against top 50 RPI teams. As you can probably guess, the 18-7 team was Texas, who everyone is certain will get in. The 18-8 team was Syracuse, who everyone is certain will get in the NIT.

So Digger does the requisite "holy cow, I can't believe it" crap, and Hubie's doing some too. And then Jay Bilas speaks up. And I normally love Jay Bilas; I think he's an excellent color man and an even better studio guy. But here, he says something along the lines of "Yeah, but if you were to just tell us the names of the two teams, we wouldn't even have to look at resumes, because we know Texas is playing better." To which I queried, "Isn't that the exact kind of specious, circular, 'I know who's better because I watch and I know who's better' reasoning that this entire segment of the show is supposed to call into question?" But Rece Davis has his hands full anyway, so he doesn't ask that, but to his credit, he does ask, "But what about the argument that 'you are what the numbers say you are," and "you are what your resume says you are'?" And then Jay starts equivocating and bullshitting and at one point actually says that Texas is better because they have a similar record against a much better schedule, which the numbers inform us is an outright lie (SU's SOS: 55. Texas's: 81). And then they do a few more, and as they're going to commercial and the camera is slowly backing away, they go back to the Texas thing, and Hubert, God bless him, proves himself to be the only honest one in the group when he says "I would take Texas just because they have Durant." And they all laugh. And I'm one step closer to seppuku.

You see this kind of things elsewhere, too, as Tempo-Free Suburbia pointed out yesterday. He links to a column by Andy Katz discussing the much-buzzed-about NCAA experiment where basketball writers were invited to try and come up with a bracket, like the actual selection committee does. In the article, he basically says ... well shit, not to get all FJM on you, but here's the relevant passage:

If Texas were to be close to making the field, I'm convinced the Longhorns would get in based on their ability to win games...

Yes, yes. "Winning games" certainly separates them from the rest of those losers on the bubble.

... the overall youthful talent on the team led by Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin...

That's some frighteningly NBA-like logic, promoting the individual player hype over the accomplisments of the team.

... and a desire to see this team entertain.

What the hell does that even mean? "I think Texas should make the tournament because I want to see Kevin Durant play"? Pretty much. More NBA-age. Also, you'll note that not once in that sentence does he discuss the team's actual accomplishments, outside of an amorphous "ability to win games." But hell, he pretty much admits this, later.

Remember, the chore is to put together the 34 best at-large teams...


...to make a competitive field.

Hmm, that has the ring of a superfluous phrase thrown in to help you make your argument.

Texas has been one of the most competitive teams in the country this season, playing overtime games and late-possession games constantly.

Translation: Texas played a lot of nationally-televised games this year where I could watch Kevin Durant play. And yes, the Longhorns have played a "competitive" (WTF?) 8 games decided by 4 points or fewer this year, but in those games they've pretty uniformly beaten bad and middling teams (the Ws: St. John's by 1, LSU by 1, Arkansas by 4, Nebraska by 1, Baylor by 1) and lost to decent ones (the Ls: Michigan State by 2, Oak State by 2, K-State by 1).

So, when it came time to vote, I had no issue making a plea to our group that Texas would make it a better field.

I wouldn't, either. They're a deserving at-large, even though I think they're way closer to the bubble than most journalists would have you believe.

The reality is that I didn't care what the Longhorns' RPI was, nor did I check it, because I know Texas would be a tough team to face for anyone in the bracket. Once again, there's nothing wrong with that logic to me, and I wouldn't be surprised if Texas is discussed in that manner next month.

Back the fucking truck up, there, chief. Didn't care about, or even look at, the RPI? Because "I know they'd be a tough team to face"? More of this ridiculous "they deserve to get in because I think they deserve to get in" bullshit. And if the committee does use that kind of "logic" when putting the brackets together, it's a goddamn travesty.

None of this is meant to be taking anything away from the Longhorns in general or Durant in particular. He's an amazing player and they're a good team, probably deserving of a spot in the Dance. But as TFS says, results should not be completely disregarded in favor of "gut feelings." Right now, Durant's mere presence is single-handedly getting them a higher seed than they deserve, if the punditry is any indication. And frankly, that's wrong.


At 12:36 PM, February 20, 2007, Blogger TFS said...

Thanks for the linkage. Good to see Sim City 2000 up there in the top ten video games.


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