Temple Got Screwed!

Villanova got a gift, and a few other observations about March Madness

We’re about at the point where it’s time to stop listening to the pre-tournament talk about how the NC2A Selection Committee works its dark magic. After seeing what happened to Villanova and Temple Sunday, it’s pretty evident the formula is little more than a shield designed to divert attention from the real goal of the room-service crowd in Indianapolis: Stick it to the little guy. [SIGNUP]

To review, The Owls didn’t deserve to be seeded fifth, and ‘Nova wasn’t worthy of a two spot. Forget that Temple beat the Wildcats. Or that the Owls won their conference title and closed the season with 10 consecutive victories. Pay no attention to the ‘Cats’ late-season stagger that included more stumbles than a pub crawler’s trip home. TU lives in the Atlantic 10, a nice, middle-class neighborhood, while Villanova gets its mail in college basketball’s gated community. When it comes to the Selection Committee, the old real estate maxim holds true. It’s about location, location, location.

For yet another season, the people seeding the tournament acted like a bunch of high-school students, choosing the popular kids for the best spots. Only one “mid-major” conference member (New Mexico) received a top-four seed. Promising non-BCS conference schools were often pitted against each other or given double-digit seeds, while big-money charlatans (hello, Louisville, Minnesota and Texas) received gift invitations. Texas was a fetid 7-9 to close the season. Before its Big Ten tourney run, Minnesota was 5-5 to close the regular season. And Louisville has more personalities than Herschel Walker.

Temple fans have every reason to demand a recount, although anyone who expects justice probably calls Al Gore “Mr. President.” The Owls closed the year 11-1, hotter than all but two teams in the country – Butler and Wofford – each of which plays in paperweight conferences.

Tourney candidates are also supposed to prove their mettle against quality opposition. Well, the Owls went 10-5 against teams ranked in the RPI top 100. That 66.7 percent success rate is higher than that posted by every four seed, except one – Purdue. And the Boilermakers are reeling after the season-ending knee injury suffered by standout forward Robbie Hummel. If there is any justice, Philly boy Fran McCaffery and his Siena Saints will spank Purdue in the first round.

The Owls are champions (regular season and tournament) of the Atlantic 10 for the third consecutive season, as if that meant anything to the bracket architects. The A-10 was the seventh-best conference in the country, according to the RPI, yet the Owls were seeded below eight schools that captured neither version of their leagues’ titles. Worse, they get a first-round game against dangerous Cornell, which has enough built-in drama to feed conspiracy theorists’ beliefs that it was made for TV.

And, finally, Temple beat Villanova – by 10 – back when the Wildcats were playing great basketball and were spoken of as a potential number one seed. ’Nova fans should be careful not to misinterpret this as an anti-Wildcat screed (as if that will happen). They should be rightfully thrilled with their number two seed and thank the heavens they play in the Big East, which can put plenty of lipstick and rouge on a 4-6 finish. Philadelphia basketball fans should root for the Wildcats to make another Final Four run, particularly if it means taking out Coach K and the Blue Devil coven.

But those who cherish justice and revel in sticking it to The Man had better be wearing cherry-and-white this weekend. If the Owls whip Cornell and then take care of fourth-seeded Wisconsin, they will have vindicated themselves and sent yet another message to the NC2A that the old caste system can’t persist in what is supposed to be an egalitarian tournament.

Regular guys unite! Prepare to march on the mansion.

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• Yeah, it’s all Eddie Jordan’s fault. He signed the dumb contracts. He decided experience at the point wasn’t important. Blame him. Then take a look at Mr. Ed.

• The Phillies will try to give you eight million reasons Jamie Moyer should be the fifth starter, but if Kyle Kendrick keeps pitching the way he has, he should get the job.

• Way to follow up the thrilling win over Chicago with a buzz kill in New York, Flyers. Guess home advantage in the playoffs doesn’t mean anything to you guys.

MICHAEL BRADLEY fights for truth and justice in the world of sports from his secure World Headquarters in suburban Philadelphia. His work appears in Sporting News, Athlon publications, Hoop Magazine and Slam. He is a regular contributor to Sirius Mad Dog Radio and 97.5 The Fanatic.