Red Raiders on sidelines for March MadnessMarch 20, 2003
With March Madness starting today, fans across the nation are becoming embroiled in what seems to be a yearly tradition -- filling out their brackets, starting office pools and taking extra long lunch breaks to watch teams you normally never would watch during the regular season.
Equally as traditionally, fans begin talking about who got snubbed by the selection committee. This year, attention has focused on the Big East conference, with most skeptics thinking that Boston College and Seton Hall deserved bids. However, even closer to home, a Big 12 team that belongs in the tournament has been snubbed: the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Rarely does a rival Big 12 school come to the defense of another, but in this case, Texas Tech got cheated out of a spot that should have been theirs. Need some convincing? Despite their dismal Big 12 record (6-10), Tech defeated four tournament-bound teams during the season -- UNC-Wilmington, Colorado, Oklahoma State University and Texas. Incidentally, Texas holds the No. 1 seed in the South bracket, and OSU holds a No. 6 seed in the East.
Furthermore, the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), a traditional measuring stick for tournament teams, lists the Red Raiders at No. 48, placing them above at-large teams Oregon (No. 50) and North Carolina State (No. 53). This also places them right below Colorado (No. 46) and Indiana (No. 47), both of which are tournament-bound.
Don't like the RPI? Examine the USA Today rankings of Jeff Sagarin, a system Sports Illustrated listed as more accurate than the RPI. Sagarin has Texas Tech as high as No. 31, ahead of teams like Colorado (No. 33), Purdue (No. 34), Butler (No. 35), Michigan State (No. 36) and Alabama (No. 37) -- teams that all made the tournament.
Will the tournament be as exciting as ever? Of course. But Texas Tech should be playing in the NCAA tournament right now, not watching it.