Keep the madness flowing
One team got stuck with what used to be called the dreaded play-in game.
One team got stuck with a No. 15 seed.
One team’s thin bowl of alphabet soup came up C-B-I”.
So why are all these people smiling?
In the case of the UAlbany, they’re in the NCAA tournament, which means the obligatory reaction festival, on Selection Sunday for the men and Selection Monday for the women.
Their celebrations bracketed a hearty, if muted, cheer by the Siena men that could be heard from behind their lockerroom door late Sunday night.
That’s when they found out that they were going to the CBI, which gathers 16 teams for an ancillary event after the NCAA, NIT and, to some extent, the CIT take their pick from the 345 Division I men’s teams.
The UAlbany men got a first-round game, and the UAlbany women got a 15 seed a year after they were a 14.
The fact that the women were seeded so low despite a 28-4 record shows how small the margin for error is when you play in the America East, which is almost at the bottom of the RPI ranking of 32 conferences.
I remember Great Danes coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson complaining about the bracketology projections last year, but there was nothing strident in her tone this time.
For one thing, the Danes will open with a neutral-site game and likely will benefit from the LSU fans rooting hard for the underdog against West Virginia.
For another, an America East team is inherently handicapped by its strength of schedule, so the most important thing is to have a really good team, which UAlbany surely does.
“There’s a lot that goes into it, and we had some losses that we shouldn’t have had,” she said. “No, we’re happy. We’re going.”
The UAlbany men had a decidedly different scenario. With a sub-.500 record as late as Feb. 12, they won six of their last seven and knocked off the top two seeds in the AE tournament — Vermont and Stony Brook.
A 16 seed would’ve been nice, but the Danes brought their season back from the dead and have a terrific opportunity for their first NCAA tournament win.
Siena is in a tournament where it’s OK to suspect whether a team is fully motivated to even be in it.
That rot can creep all the way into the NIT, which seemed to be the case when Siena beat Georgia Tech in 1994.
It won’t be a problem for the Saints in the CBI. Based on the way their season ended, they’re thirsty for a little more.
There’s a special “we’re just happy to be here” torture rack for severing tongues in the dungeon of sports unspeakables.
It can be forgiven in some cases.