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Breaking the bubble divide between big schools, mid-majors

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As Selection Sunday looms the ongoing discussion will get louder:

Is bubble team X more deserving of an NCAA Tournament bid than bubble team Y?

The blind résumé game is a bit played, but when it involves a mid-major and a member of a BCS-conference, the argument can get contentious (and fun to observe for some).

Teams will carry similar RPIs, records against the RPI top 100, strength of schedules, etc. They have many of the same characteristics, but peel back the curtain and if one team is from a major conference, and the other is not, favoritism usually ensues.

Either you’re a big brand guy or you subscribe to MidMajority.com. You usually never waver.

The argument when deciding whom to favor doesn’t really involve numbers, even though when you argue over one mid-major vs. a BCS-conference team, it has everything to do with numbers.

Personally, I don’t really lean either way. I think that taking a stand and picking a side is ignorant.

If you think that NC State should get in over, say, Iona 10 times out of 10, you’re probably refusing to lend any credence the personnel of the Gaels. Sure, Iona shot themselves in the foot by losing a few regular season games, but put them up against the Wolfpack on a neutral court, roll the ball out on the court and let them go at it? I guarantee you the game would be close and interesting.

The problem is you don’t get to do that. Instead, you have to establish a hierarchy of what is most important to you when weighing the information on a team’s resume sheet.

If you back the little guy, you probably refuse to think a middling team from a major conference would run away with a mid-major conference tournament

If you can’t stand the little guy, you’re convinced they would wilt at playing 18-games against “real teams”.

I understand the arguments, but what I look for in distinguishing a tournament team from a non-tournament team, regardless of their conference membership, is finding something that jumps out at me. Something that their peers did not do.

For my argument, Drexel is the perfect example. The Dragons had a 19-game winning streak this season. Regardless of who they played, that’s impressive. To weather unforeseen injuries and off-nights for two months and always pull off the “W” has to earn some level of clout among the selection committee.

They also know how to score, which is something you can’t say about fellow bubble member South Florida cannot say.

But getting back to the Wolfpack – they have done little to impress.

I understand that they stayed afloat in one of the country’s tougher conferences, going 9-7 with a few wins over Miami and a non-conference win over Texas, but they didn’t beat anybody. They had eight chances to get a victory over an RPI top 50 teams, and came up empty every time. They’re were just sort of…there.

Much like the Virginia Tech syndrome of the past few seasons, if you don’t schedule tough or you don’t do something that sticks out, you shouldn’t be in the tournament.

It’s sort of an unwritten rule.

Some of us are never going to find common ground on this argument. BCS teams and mid-majors have fan bases of two different ilks.

To eliminate the minutia, look for something that sticks out. Find a team that has done something great in the regular season. Something the team standing next to them in line did not do.

You’ll at least get the media’s attention.

Ellis, Lucas lead No. 6 Kansas past No. 10 West Virginia

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) blocks a shot by West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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In the first meeting between No. 10 West Virginia and No. 6 Kansas, the Mountaineers dominated in their 74-63 win in Morgantown. Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” attack forced 22 Kansas turnovers, with the Jayhawks playing far too fast and loose with the basketball while also getting out-toughed by the Mountaineers. In the rematch Kansas (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) looked far better equipped to deal with West Virginia in both of those areas, winning by the final score of 75-65.

Kansas committed 15 turnovers, with Devonte’ Graham responsible for five of them, but they did not allow West Virginia (19-4, 8-3) to use those chances to kickstart their offense. The Mountaineers scored 13 points (one fewer than Kansas, which took advantage of ten WVU miscues) off of those turnovers and did not register a single fast break points. Having to play in the half-court more than they would have liked, West Virginia could not execute at the level they did in beating Baylor Saturday.

As a result Bob Huggins’ team shot 37.3 percent from the field and 5-for-20 from beyond the arc. The Mountaineers have shown signs of being able to win games in which they don’t force a high turnover count, but that wasn’t the case at Allen Fieldhouse.

If not for West Virginia grabbing better than 34 percent of their misses and scoring 14 second-chance points, the margin is likely even greater than the ten-point outcome due to the contract in offensive execution. Kansas pushed the ball early, getting out to an 8-0 lead, and as the game wore on the Jayhawks were much better in finding quality shot opportunities. Bill Self’s team shot 56.1 percent from the field with Perry Ellis scoring 21 points to lead five Jayhawks in double figures.

The tandem of Ellis and Landen Lucas, who grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds, won the battle against a WVU front court missing the suspended Jonathan Holton. Devin Williams, who went for 17 and 12 in the first meeting, finished the rematch with a respectable 14-point, nine-rebound effort but he didn’t get much help in the post from the likes of Elijah Macon and Nathan Adrian.

After having Self question their toughness in a home win over Kansas State six days ago, the Jayhawks have responded with wins over TCU and West Virginia. Obviously it’s tough to read too much into beating the Horned Frogs, because even with that game being in Fort Worth it’s one Kansas was expected to handle with ease. The Mountaineers posed a different, and far more rigorous test, and Kansas got the job done.

As a result the Jayhawks have brought West Virginia back to the pack in the Big 12 title race, making Saturday’s game at No. 3 Oklahoma even bigger than it already was.

VIDEO: North Carolina head coach Roy Williams collapses on sideline

Roy Williams
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North Carolina head coach Roy Williams collapsed during the second half of No. 2 North Carolina’s visit to Boston College on Tuesday night:

Roy Williams has dealt with vertigo in the past; it’s not abnormal for him to collapse on the sideline during games, and given that his team is currently losing to Boston College, it’s understandable that he may have screamed himself dizzy.

He had to be helped off the floor:

It does appear that this isn’t something serious, according to a North Carolina release, that said Williams is “doing OK”.