Let It All Out
Buzz Williams joins parade of crying sports men with teary diatribe on missing NCAA Tournament
Man, there's a war on.
Not in America, sure, but there's always a war somewhere, and there's poverty, and suffering, and God knows what else, all of which is to say that if you have a public platform and you use it to whine about sports, we're actually cool with that, but you better be deadass right.
After an opening round win against Alcorn St. in the NIT, Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams—who has been hilarious in the past, which is why it pains me to criticize him here—read a nearly eight-minute statement lamenting the fact that A&M didn't make the big dance. I genuinely encourage you not to watch the video below, by the way. I'm going to post it, as it's my solemn duty as a blogger, but Williams speaks really slowly, and manages to spit out maybe 200 words in the seven minutes, and the whole thing amounts to "I did my own research, the committee is bad and biased, and I'm upset for my players who worked so hard."
There are also tears. As we noted yesterday, we are in the golden age of grown men crying about sports, and this is the latest in the genre. Anyway, you've been warned—don't watch this:
First off, putting aside his "I did my own research!"Q-Anon-sounding arguments, let's remember that there are 68 damn teams in the NCAA Tournament, and if you're on the bubble, my instinct—the proper instinct—is to say, "screw you, win more games." This isn't college football, where sometimes a team will go undefeated and not make the playoffs, and you'll say, "damn, that sucks, they literally won every game they played and couldn't have done anything more, the system is bad." This is not that. This is a situation where, I repeat, 68 entire teams made the field. That's almost 20% of the entirety of Division 1 teams! If you are a power conference team and you find yourself on the outside looking in, it's definitely possible that the committee gave you a slightly raw deal, but it's also the case that you're aggressively mediocre and should have done better. Earn your way in; there's plenty of spots.
This is especially true of Texas A&M, a team that lost eight straight conference games at one point, made an admittedly nice run to end the season, but had a chance to earn an automatic bid in the SEC championship and got whooped by Tennessee. Meanwhile, they played almost nobody out of conference—they had exactly three games against non-conference top 100 Kenpom teams, losing two of those three and only beating Notre Dame—and by Pomeroy's metrics, were ranked 43rd by the end of the year. That may seem good, since 43 is less than 68, but you have to keep in mind that there are 31 automatic qualifiers, most of whom are from small conferences that are ranked way lower. All of which is to say that Texas A&M was a true bubble team. And when you're a true bubble team, the bubble can burst.
The school tweeted out Williams' research, though they redacted the names of the comparison schools, making it all but useless. The funny thing is, A&M wasn't even the last team left off, or the second-to-last, or third-to-last. Dayton, Oklahoma, and SMU were all ahead of the Aggies, and whatever data Williams thinks he pulled, believe me, you can find arguments that are just as good and probably better for those schools.
Here's the bottom line: If you go 9-9 in the SEC, you have exactly one chance to make the NCAA Tournament, and that's by winning the conference tournament. After that, it's a coin flip at best, and you never know which valid pieces of data the committee will weigh most heavily. To accuse them of bias, or to sit behind a microphone and literally cry about your team not making it, is some frankly inexcusable whining for a dude as seasoned as Williams. Take some accountability, realize that even if you have an argument to make the dance, this happens to multiple teams every year, and try to play so well next season that nobody can keep you out. Blaming the committee is a cop-out; this is on you, Buzz. Buck up.