Saturday, March 19, 2011

11 comments Dan Shaughnessy Is Correct If You Ignore the Evidence He Is Wrong

I have taken a week off and I thank Dylan for covering for me. Things get to busy nowadays in mom's attic, so I hope I can continue to write at the caffeine-fueled, sarcasm-filled rate I usually write at. Mom forced me to live downstairs VERY NEAR TO SUNLIGHT for a week. I think she may want me to move out. So this blog has seemed to lack a lot of complaining about sportswriting lately, so I am here to remedy that.

Dan Shaughnessy thinks the biggest snub in the NCAA Tournament for this year is Harvard. He doesn't think Harvard is ONE of the snubs, he thinks they are the biggest snub. I love Harvard's coach, Tommy Amaker, mostly because of where he attended college, but Harvard didn't deserve to be in the tournament and they weren't the biggest snub.

I know we all love the talk about teams that are snubbed and I enjoy that conversation too, but what I love about college basketball is that if a team is snubbed they have caused this to happen to themselves. College basketball teams can put together a resume that will make the tournament committee forced to pay attention to them. Virginia Tech could have made the NCAA Tournament by not losing to Boston College at home and then losing to Clemson in the last two games of the season. Teams can make a good case for themselves to be selected for the NCAA Tournament. Harvard didn't do that. Of course, Harvard is located in Massachusetts so Dan is incredibly biased as to their being snubbed. He loves all things from his home state...sometimes illogically, like today.

Silly people. As the draw unfolded it became clear that Harvard wasn't getting and invitation and they were never taken seriously. No way. No how.

There is a difference in being taken seriously and being considered one of the top 68 teams in college basketball. Actually, it is more like the selection committee considering Harvard one of the Top 50 teams in college basketball because many of the teams that get automatic bids for winning their conference tournament wouldn't get a bid without that automatic conference bid. So there are about 50 teams (actually 37 at-large bids) who Harvard has to be better than to reach the NCAA Tournament.

They didn't do it. I feel sorry for Tommy Amaker, but that isn't a reason to put them in the field of 68.

No, no, no. The bubble teams -- the ones truly snubbed -- were identified by CBS as Mississippi State, St. Mary's, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Colorado and Boston College.

Because these are teams that had legitimately good wins over quality teams and had put together a great resume. Harvard beat Boston College and Colorado. So their best two wins are over teams that didn't make the field of 68. Beating teams that didn't make the NCAA Tournament either isn't a good way to make a case to make the NCAA Tournament. They had a loss against Yale. That's not a good loss. Harvard's strength of schedule was 155. They did not have a terrible resume, but you can't get in the tournament if your good wins are over teams that are also on the bubble when those other teams on the bubble have wins over teams in the NCAA least it is hard to make it in the tourney that way.

Nobody bothered to include Harvard in that group, even though the Crimson beat both Colorado and BC. Even though the Crimson had an RPI of 35.

RPI is a faulty measurement. UAB had an RPI of 30 without any wins over teams in the RPI top 50. They were absolutely destroyed by Clemson in the First Four game. UAB even hit 12 of 24 three-point shots and lost by 18 points. Not that this proves that RPI is not a great measure, but it does show how it can be misleading. had Harvard 77th in his rankings, below teams like Boise State and Rutgers. I find to be a more accurate ranking for a team.

Also, I have mentioned this once before, but Harvard's strength of schedule was 155. 16 of their wins came against teams ranked below 150 in RPI...if Dan really wants to use RPI as a measurement we can use this against Harvard.

Harvard was not taken seriously, even though Princeton got a 13 seed.

That's a pretty high seed given to teams that qualify because they won their conference tournament. Not too many teams that are seen as high quality get a 13 seed. I am not sure Dan knows this is a bad seed in a field of 68 teams. Does he understand how the NCAA Tournament seedings are used and what they mean?

There was virtually no difference between Princeton and Harvard this season. Just one shot. And Princeton got a 13 seed and Harvard got dissed. Not even worthy of bubble talk.

It doesn't matter if there was no difference in Princeton and Harvard. Princeton got in because they won the Ivy League title. Does Dan Shaughnessy really believe the tournament committee put Princeton in as an at-large team? I really don't believe he understands Princeton got an automatic bid. I bet a bunch of teams in a conference have similar records to the tourney winner of that conference. It doesn't matter and doesn't mean because a team has an automatic bid all teams in that conference with a similar record are tournament-worthy. The tourney winner only got in as a tourney winner, not based on merit from an at-large bid. Harvard got snubbed, but they weren't the biggest snub at all.

The estimable Bob Ryan, my Basketball Hall of Fame colleague, who has seen approximately 10 million college games, suggested "put 'em both in'' after watching the thrilling one-game playoff.

Well, if Bob Ryan says they should be in the tourney then absolutely the selection committee screwed up. Bob Ryan is always right.

Ryan submitted that Harvard (23-6) might be as worthy as some of the mediocre teams from the power conferences or some of the mid majors who didn't have great seasons.

Ryan submitted "maybe" Harvard might be as worthy. Not that they were worthy, but "maybe," and it turns out they weren't. Also, I would love to know the names of these mediocre teams from power conferences or mid-majors who didn't have great seasons that made the tournament over Harvard. We don't get names of teams, but just vague references to these teams. UAB and VCU got blasted for making the tournament and they had equal or better profiles to Harvard.

But no one is saying the Crimson were "snubbed.'' Ivy League wannabe's are not even worthy of discussion as bubble worthy.

Yes, they are. Harvard was discussed very much as a bubble worthy team. Here is an article with Harvard on the bubble. Assuming Dan Shaughnessy is not illiterate, he could also read this article on, the site that pays him to write columns, about Harvard being on the bubble. Or he could read this one from about Harvard being on the bubble. It's not even accurate to play the "poor pitiful Harvard" act like they weren't even in the discussion when this doesn't match the facts.

This is a great example of "assumptive and wanna-be" journalism. Dan wants to be right for the purposes of his column, so he assumes he is correct in order to help his point make more sense and come off as accurate. Well, its not true. Harvard WAS among the teams discussed as being on the bubble, no matter whether Dan Shaughnessy wants this to be true or not in an effort to gain sympathy for Harvard from his readers.

In a 2011 NCAA world of booster nitwits, transcript forging and colleges serving as a minor leagues for professional sports, there is no place for an academic institution with a fight song that includes the phrase "fight fiercely, Harvard. Demonstrate to them our skill.''

Teams in the NCAA Tournament that I know for a fact have high-academic standards and also got a high seed in the NCAA Tournament (there may be others as well I just haven't listed):

North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Notre Dame

I know of the high academic standard of these four schools due to two of them being in my area and seeing information on the standards for the other two schools. There are others, but I couldn't find reliable data I felt like posting here. My point is that of the booster nitwits and transcript forging isn't proven for most of the teams in the NCAA Tournament. Acting like Harvard didn't get in the NCAA Tournament because every other team is so damn dirty is misleading and wrong.

I am not making this up. Harvard's is the only fight song that includes the word "albeit."

This is clearly criteria for letting them in the NCAA Tournament.

Harvard hoops has never known glory. For decades Crimson tall fellows played in a small gym that rested atop the university swimming pool. There was a flicker of hope four decades ago when a guy named James Brown (you may have seen him in studio on NFL Sundays) came to Cambridge, but the Crimson were never able to win an Ivy Championship.


What does this have to do with Harvard being the biggest NCAA Tournament snub in 2011? Other than nothing, of course.

Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan (Harvard captain, '87), is another Harvard hoopster who couldn't get it done. And did I mention Golden State Warrior rookie Jeremy Lin?

Perhaps they will get it done by winning their conference outright at some point or have a better resume than the other at-large teams that are also on the bubble.

Harvard has been playing basketball for 100 years and is still waiting for its first league championship (the Ivy League was formed in 1954). Harvard offers 34 varsity sports and men's basketball is the only one that's never won a league championship (this year the Crimson were officially co-champs).

NCAA Tournament selection as an at-large bid isn't a lifetime achievement award nor is it a way of rewarding a school that has never made the NCAA Tournament by letting them pass over more worthy teams the one year they are close to deserving an at-large bid.

Ivy League basketball championships are usually won by Princeton and Penn. Those schools even made it to the Final Four. Princeton got there under the leadership of Bill Bradley (a team that had a bench player named Larry Lucchino).

You really thought Dan Shaughnessy could get through an entire column without bringing something back to the Boston Red Sox? I'm surprised he didn't fit in a reference to the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox team in this column. He is slipping.

Amaker's 2010-11 Crimson went 12-2 in the league, but the one-game playoff at Yale was the one that mattered.

And they lost on a last-second buzzer beater. Tough luck for those kids and good luck being everyone's boss, making a shitload of money, and being really famous for something other than sports out in the real world to those Harvard grads. Harvard was on the bubble and deserved to be on the bubble. They weren't the biggest snub of 2011, no matter how much Dan Shaughnessy wants this to be true.

When Douglas Davis's buzzer beater splashed through the bottom of the net, the boys from Cambridge were crushed once again. This will be Princeton's 24th trip to the tournament.

It sucks. I feel bad for Tommy Amaker and the Harvard basketball team. Unfortunately, the selection committee can't take feelings into account (or else Virginia Tech would probably have gotten in) when determining which teams deserve to make the NCAA Tournament or not. It is supposed to be about performance on who should make it, not about feelings on who should make it.

An Ivy League team has never received an at-large bid to the tournament. It doesn't matter that Cornell won two games in last year's dance and went to the Sweet 16.

Exactly. It absolutely doesn't matter. Should more ACC teams have gotten automatic bids because ACC teams have won 3 of the last 6 NCAA titles? Does this performance in the past somehow make the 2010-2011 ACC team's resume more impressive? Of course not. So yes, it doesn't matter what Cornell did last year because Cornell isn't Harvard and that was last year.

It's not like Harvard made a tournament run last year and brought back most of the same team, so it can be projected to where they could have success in the NCAA Tournament. You can't project Harvard's ability to compete and ignore their 2010-2011 resume based on Cornell's 2009-2010 team. That's just stupid.

No. This is a tournament with 11 teams from the Big East.

I'm not going to get in argument about the strength of the Big East. Suffice to say, if Cornell, Princeton, or Harvard played in the Big East I would guess they wouldn't get a bid to the NCAA Tournament this year. The Big East is a strong league and those teams like Harvard and Princeton get an automatic bid and I am not sure they would make it otherwise.

Maybe the Big East has given people unreal expectations. Is there a difference, other than in perception, of a league like the Big East where there is depth seen because the teams can all beat each other, and in a league like the ACC which is seen as weak because the teams can all beat each other? Maybe. The point is that the Big East probably deserved the bids they got, Harvard was a borderline snub.

There's always going to be room for John Calipari, who has already had two Final Four appearances vacated, but there's no room for Harvard.

There is room for John Calipari because he has made two Final Fours and there isn't room for Harvard because they can't win their conference title and make the NCAA Tournament, nor can they put together a resume good enough for the committee to select them. This isn't the Morality and Academic Tournament where the nicest and cleanest teams get in. It is the NCAA Tournament where the best teams, as chosen by the selection committee, get to participate in the NCAA Tournament. If John Calipari is coaching a team that is worthy of inclusion, his team makes it.

If you notice, Dan has very little basketball-related reason for Harvard to the biggest snub of the NCAA Tournament. I would think if he really believes they are the biggest snub he could provide basketball-related reasons to support it other than screaming "everyone else cheats" and "let's feel sorry for Harvard" to anyone unfortunate to come across this column.

They can play in the NIT as a No. 6 seed.

An NIT No. 6 seed should not be in the discussion for the NCAA Tournament bubble, nor would this NIT No. 6 seed be anything close to the biggest snub of the NCAA Tournament. More evidence provided by Dan himself that he is wrong.

Then they can go back to inventing Facebook and sending those twin rowers to the Olympics.

Harvard doesn't even want to go to the NCAA Tournament anyway. They are better than you!

The NCAA tournament is always happy to proceed without any representation from Cambridge.

It's not a birthright or a lifetime achievement award to make the NCAA Tournament. When Harvard absolutely deserves it and is chosen, then they will make. Harvard wasn't the biggest snub of the NCAA Tournament.


koleslaw said...

Other topics we can look forward to Dan Shaughnessy writing about:

"Denver Broncos beat Steelers in preseason game; Broncos should be in Super Bowl"

"New York Yankees minor-leager strikes out; Red Sox win Pennant"

"My waitress spills a beer on the next table over; Dow Jones drops 80 points."

Bengoodfella said...

Koleslaw, I should have labeled this post with the "cause and effect problems" tag. I really dropped the ball on that one. Which Dan Shaughnessy would say led to some weird outcome that had nothing to do with me dropping the ball.

your favourite sun said...

I was hoping Harvard would get an at-large bid, but I didn't expect it. They weren't good enough, and I get that the selection committee wasn't interested in sending a team to get slaughtered just to provide a brief feel-good moment.

Besides, an NIT bid was fair, and is nothing to be bitter about. Ivy League teams rarely get one there, either. And any time people have a reason to watch the NIT, it's a good thing.

Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

i wonder if dan read gene wojciechowski's latest column and tried to one-up him. this is beyond awful. a summary of his arguments:

-"let harvard in because they never get in" (why don't we just rotate teams every year? forget actually playing games and seeing who is the best, let's be totally egalitarian and give everybody a shot to play. let's also give participation medals and trying to avoid any and every hurt feelings, this is only division I basketball not some sort of ubercompetetive league)

"look at how well cornell did last year clearly harvard deserves a bid" (duke and north carolina have won 14 tournament games over the past two seasons therefore virginia tech should have gotten in)

"The estimable Bob Ryan, my Basketball Hall of Fame colleague, who has seen approximately 10 million college games, suggested "put 'em both in'' after watching the thrilling one-game playoff." (this is third grade level writing. what bunch of garbage. clearly dan didn't get his english degree from harvard)

not only is dan terrible, he is getting so predictable. he makes a bunch of straw man arguments, talks endlessly about the superiority of all of boston's institutions, goes into a sentimental history of harvard (listing facts that couldn't possibly be less relevant to his central argument)...oh dan you're clearly losing it (assuming you had it to begin with).

one more thing:

"Then they can go back to inventing Facebook and sending those twin rowers to the Olympics.

The NCAA tournament is always happy to proceed without any representation from Cambridge."

dan, i'll see you're harvard and raise you one caltech. we're smarter than harvard, and we have even less tournament experience, so even though we just won our first conference game in a quarter century, by dan's criteria we are even more qualified than harvard!!! love dan's logic

your favourite sun said...

Northwestern is the only team from a "Big Six" conference to never make the NCAA(even though they hosted the first ever tourney, iirc). They had a good team this year, and they also have high academic standards. Where's Shaughnessy's righteous indignation on their behalf?

cs said...

I hate to bring up something that's been brought up before, but just look at Dan's head shot from that SI column. Gray background, insane "I just struggled with the cops for 4 minutes" hair, disturbing, chilling leer... That's a mug shot of a serial rapist right there.

Isn't there a professional photographer at SI? A 'Hey Dan, why don't we shoot you from a higher angle, but only after you visit the barber and a tanning salon first' professional photographer?

Bengoodfella said...

Sun, that's a good way of looking at it. I watch the NIT as well and generally the team that wins the NIT I look at them and say they probably deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament. I think Dan is just bitter. There is no good indignation for Northwestern, who I believe beat BC a couple of days ago, because they aren't from Massachusetts.

Arjun, you are right. Using Cornell's success as a reason for why Harvard deserved a bid is flawed. The ACC has 3 teams in the Sweet 16 and the Big East has 2. That doesn't mean more ACC teams should have gotten in.

I'd love to see CalTech make it. They could play the #16 seed in a First Four game.

CS, it is disturbing isn't it? I feel like that is the photo that gets taken after he is caught hiding in a trash dumpster in the alley.

I think Dan likes his hair. It makes him the CHB like Carl Everett said.

rich said...

Ivy league basketball is one of the most painful things to watch, it's even worse in person. Sitting in the Palestra watching kids brick half their shots and airball the other half was painful.

Lets put the history of ivy basketball in perspective. Penn made the Final Four in 1979. Princeton did it in 1965, but yes, it's absolutely necessary to let Harvard in.

Hell, lets count Dartmouth's two trips to the final four when only 16 teams made the tournament. Sure it was 70 years ago, but damnit we need Harvahd in the tourny!

Lets also conveniently forget that before last year, the Ivy league teams were getting blown out every year. Clearly last year was the rule and everything else in the past decade was a fluke.

Other teams with Final Four appearances include Jacksonville, St. Boneventure and Wyoming. Maybe FF appearances aren't such a good metric.

However, I take serious offense to one part of this article:

Then they can go back to inventing Facebook and sending those twin rowers to the Olympics.

1. Saying Facebook was "invented" is incredibly asinine. You can't "invent" a business.
2. Harvard has produced Nobel prize winners, I'd think their contributions are slightly more valuable to the world than fucking Facebook.
3. Every school on the face of the planet has famous alumni. For example, lets look at Colorado. Trey Parker ("inventor" of Southpark) and Steve Wozniak ("co-inventor" of Apple) both attended CU. Didn't hear anybody drop their names in the "CU should've gotten in" articles.

For someone who didn't even attend Harvard Dan certainly is proud of the school's accomplishments...

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, yeah Dan thinks it makes a ton of sense to ignore the Ivy League's history in the past to say why Harvard should get in. He has to go around the entire point that Harvard didn't have a good enough resume to get in this year.

Facebook=Nobel Prize winners. Advantage social networking. If it wasn't important, would they have made a movie about it?

Maybe Dan always wanted to go to Harvard...

Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

good point - dan is taking a lot of pride in accomplishments that he wasn't a part of in any way. not only does the facebook argument fail in any way to support his original point at all, it couldn't possibly be more douchey or elitist. "we're boston, and if you have the gall to not include every single boston team in then i'll play the harvard card, because we in boston are better than you are!!!"

lol and ben caltech's not actually division I; i'm just pointing out that dan's criteria are so flawed that you could use them to justify selecting a team with a 300 game conference losing streak. i would love to see it to though :)

Bengoodfella said...

I'm not even sure Dan has criteria. He thought it would be a neat-o story for Harvard to be included and then tried to cook up a half-brained idea on how to do this.

I should have paid more attention to the Facebook remark. Really nothing he wrote here had much to do with why Harvard should make the NCAA Tournament.