Actually, the real surprise is that Butler was a No. 5 seed, beat the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds back-to-back and had its toughest game in the tournament against No. 13 Murray State.
In other words, the selection committee really messed up the seeding this year.
Hey, it happens from time to time. After all, the chalk pretty much ran through to the bracket the past several years. Last year the top 12 teams made it to the Sweet 16, while in 2008 all the No. 1 seeds got to the Final Four. In fact, over the past two seasons Villanova, as a No. 3, was the worst-seeded team to get to the Final Four.
The committee got it right in 2008 and 2009.
That wasn’t the case in 2010 where three double-digit seeds plus No. 9 Northern Iowa got to the Sweet 16 and a No. 5 or No. 6 seed is guaranteed to make it to the championship game.
One theory is that the selection committee didn’t give much respect to those mid-majors. Butler, obviously, is the prime example of that elitist point-of-view. Seeing as there was no team that was head-and-shoulders above the rest, a team like Butler was given a No. 5 seed even though its RPI ranking was just tenths of points behind Villanova.
Since Butler was 20-0 in the Horizon Conference and Villanova was 13-6 in the Big East, the committee reasoned that the big conferences were infinitely better than the mid-majors and ranked the teams accordingly. That kind of makes sense, right? If ‘Nova and Butler produce the same computer rankings, then the so-called major team would chew up those mid-majors, went the logic.
The problem with that is statistics always lie. Never is there a case were 13-6 is better than 20-0. Never, ever, never. A 20-0 team experiences things that a 13-6 club never goes through, such as how to win games. Winning counts for a lot when its humans and not statistics calling the shots.
Didn’t we learn anything from Larry Bird and Indiana State all those years ago? Did we really need to watch No. 10 St. Mary’s pull apart Villanova like a sadistic kid on the playground torturing a defenseless insect with a magnifying glass? Sure, St. Mary’s had the 35th best RPI and was 25-5, but they had something Villanova did not—a legit center.
So painting Butler and teams of its ilk as mighty little underdogs fighting against the monoliths is wrong. Butler isn’t a David in the battle against Goliath, nor is it a mom-and-pop shop slaying Wal-Mart before it gets crushed and the organic nature of a downtown is destroyed. Actually, the mid-majors are just that…
They are like the regional chain with shops across the region that takes a chunk out of Wal-Mart's market share. Sure, more people shop at Wal-Mart or Target or Starbucks, but that isn't putting Giant or Acme out of business. Not by a long shot.