Like It Is:

Peacocks strut their stuff while SEC doesn’t

By: Wally Hall Wally Hall's Twitter account
Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2022

This NCAA Men’s Tournament has proven something.

The SEC and the Big Ten are football conferences.

Days before the 68-team field was announced Kentucky’s John Calipari declared the SEC deserved nine bids.

He was very wrong.

The SEC got six bids, and after the opening weekend only one team remains – Arkansas. The league’s NCAA Tournament record is 4-5.

Kentucky lost its first game to Saint Peter’s, a private school in Jersey City, New Jersey, with an undergraduate enrollment of 2,600.

It may be the first team in tournament history to make the Sweet 16 and its mascot be a peacock. If NBC had the broadcasting rights, the school would be getting a ton of publicity.

The Saint Peter’s athletic budget is so tight that the cheerleaders didn’t make the first game. They were at the second game because Peacock TV flew them in for the win over Murray State.

Saint Peter’s is a No. 15 seed which outscored the Wildcats 14-8 in overtime.

Alabama and LSU were No. 6 seeds and lost to No. 11 seeds.

Auburn, which at one time was ranked No. 1 in the nation and was a No. 2 seed, lost to No. 10 Miami.

Tennessee lost to No. 11 seed Michigan which many thought didn’t belong in the tournament after losing its first game int the Big Ten tournament to Indiana.

The SEC is the only Power 5 school with a losing record.

The Big Ten did get nine teams in, and seven are gone after the first weekend, leaving Michigan and Purdue as the only teams with a chance to improve the 9-7 tournament record.

Writing the SEC and Big Ten are football conferences is not based just on this tournament.

Last year, the Big Ten was 8-9 and the SEC was 7-6. The Razorbacks had three of those wins.

Those are not the only two conferences who were overrated by the selection committee.

The Mountain West got four teams in and didn’t win a game. Last year, it had two teams which didn’t win a game.

At least three leagues didn’t get enough credit — the ACC, the Pac-12 and Big 12.

The historical leader of college basketball, the ACC, had only five teams invited to the dance, and three are in the Sweet 16 with a tourney record of 8-2.

Granted, that’s a huge improvement from last year when the league went 4-7 in March Madness.

The Pac-12 had only three berths, and two of those teams have advanced to this weekend. The league is 4-1 and was 13-5 last season.

The Big 12 got six bids, and half of them are still playing. The league is 9-3.

Ironically, Baylor of the Big 12, the defending national champions, was a No. 1 seed but was bounced by North Carolina in the second round.

A case can be made that the Big East was about right with six bids. Despite a 5-4 record in the tournament, it has Providence and Villanova in the Sweet 16.

It has been a bit of a wacky tournament, in part because of the selection committee, but this was an unusual season as there really wasn’t one great team that everyone fears.

Gonzaga has been No. 1 most of the season, but the Bulldogs lost to Duke, Alabama and Saint Mary’s.

They trailed Memphis 41-31 at the half before pulling out an 82-78 win, but it was a game they could have lost. They led by only three with 1:05 to play and two with :06 on the clock.

Of the teams in the Sweet 16, anyone could win except Saint Peter’s, which has no shot of not being taken seriously by Purdue on Friday night.

Meanwhile, spring football is in full swing (or will be soon) in the SEC, and the reports are all good with everyone hoping to be better than last season.

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