The NCAA tournament committee has done it again. It has thrown out all logic and sent the Arizona women's basketball team packing. Their decision to put the Wildcats on the home floor of seventh-ranked Kansas State makes no sense and here is why:
First, Arizona deserved better. The Wildcats finished second in the Pac-10, blew out Washington in the semi-finals of the Pac-10 Tournament and played Stanford tough in the championship game. The Cats also posted wins over Georgia and Stanford this season, while losing to the West's number one seed LSU in overtime. Yes, the Cats stumbled against UCLA and Oregon State, but a 6 seed? I don't think so!
The committee had a perfect opportunity to show Arizona some respect. They could have sent Joan Bonvicini's team to Eugene, Oregon, and placed a higher seed there. They should have at least kept the Cats in the west in Albuquerque or Boulder. Instead, all of their "keep our teams in their time zones" talk went out the window when Arizona's name appeared in the K-State bracket.
Second, Washington got a gift in heading to Eugene. Yes, LSU is there, but Washington gets a distinct home-court advantage. The Huskies don't deserve to be in Eugene while the Wildcats try to find Manhattan, Kansas. Washington's RPI barely appears on the radar, and Arizona ran them off the court in the Pac-10 Tournament. What gives? What gives is money. Washington will travel more fans to Mac Court, and that was the difference. What ever happened to rewarding a team's total season effort?
Finally, the women's basketball tournament will never be as popular as the men's tournament as long as top seeds play at home. I honestly believe that, aside from Connecticut and Duke, the Wildcats are capable of beating any other team on a neutral court. However, teams like Arizona that have the goods to reach the Final Four, rarely do because they have to play on someone else's home court. In this case, the Arizona group will have to battle a seventh-ranked team on its home floor, if the Cats get by Notre Dame, which is probably the best 11th seed ever to come out of the NCAA war-room. With this silly home-court system, you virtually eliminate Cinderella stories. You just can't expect a team to play one of these top seeds at home and win.
So, the Cats will head to the wilderness, where they might not have an airport within a hundred miles. After successfully landing their team of Cessna aircraft that will be used for the 100-foot runway that is most likely used as Manhattan's main-street when there are no flights, Arizona will have to dig deep. After all, the committee paid Arizona no respect, and now it is time to earn it. Even if this trip to Kansas State makes no sense, you still have to play, and I'll bet that Arizona stuns some people this time around. Let's hope that the committee is watching!
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