No more ferociously shaking a Magic 8 Ball. It won’t have the answer.
At this point, Murray State’s fate has likely already been decided, though I can’t say so with unconditional certainty.
Nor can I even begin to fathom how the Racers have been looked at by the NCAA Selection Committee.
Should they get into the NCAA Tournament? I absolutely think so.
Will they get in? I absolutely have no idea.
One reason they’ll make it.
Teams don’t just win 25 games in a row. The streak is tied for the eighth-longest in the country since 2002. Oh, and the Racers went 16-0 in conference play during that stretch. Not losing in December, January and February is, well, pretty good.
One reason they won’t.
No quality wins, at least based on RPI. Murray State went 0-1 vs. RPI 1-50, 1-1 vs. RPI 51-100 and 3-2 vs. RPI 101-150. Historically, teams with that kind of resume miss out on the NCAA Tournament. History can always be rewritten, though, right?
One reason why no one knows.
Human nature. Maybe the story of the Racers as an underdog tugs at the heartstrings of the committee. It’s not supposed to matter, but those 10 members aren’t robots. Here’s to hoping they like a little drama.
A final thought before the selection show.
I’ve done my best to take an unbiased look at the situation, though my deep connections with the team makes a true outsiders approach nearly impossible.
Maybe it makes me more knowledgeable about just how different today’s team is from the one in November.
Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit.
Either way, I think they deserve it. My reasoning goes beyond the difficulty of scheduling, the injuries during season, the win streak, the undefeated run through the conference.
They deserve it because of how they won those games.
At Evansville and SIU Edwardsville. Against Eastern Kentucky and UT Martin. At Southeast Missouri.
Those weren’t just wins.
Those were leave-everything-on-the-court, carry-your-brother-on-your-back, grit-and-grind wins that weren’t supposed to happen.
You can’t see that when you look at wins and losses on a computer screen. You can’t come close to comprehending how good a team has to be to accomplish why Murray State did simply by looking at statistics and records.
I hope the committee understands that. I hope they truly watch what Murray State has done, what they can do.
You can’t watch this team – I mean really sit down and appreciate what this team has developed into – and not give them a bid.
It would be a disgrace.
A deeper look at how it works.
Sure, it’s been the one of the hottest topics in sports nationwide all week. But when it comes to the question of whether or not Murray State gets a bid, no one has the answer – not one that truly matters, anyway.
In the end, only 10 votes count.
Based on my understanding of the selection process, the first round of voting began Wednesday during the first day of the so-called “lockdown” for the committee.
According to a recent behind-the-scenes article by Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller, each member submits a ballot of teams that he believes should be in the field as at-large bids, as well as teams that deserve to be under consideration.
If a team gets eight or more votes, it moves into the field. Remaining teams with at least three votes are placed on the “under consideration” board.
Miller wrote that from there, the selection process is fairly straightforward. Each member selects eight teams from the board, and the eight teams with the most votes are ranked from top to bottom by each person.
The top four teams move into the field, while the remaining four teams are placed on hold. The committee picks eight more teams, and the top four vote-getters join the four teams on hold.
Those eight are ranked. The top four move in. The bottom four go on hold. And so the voting goes on and on.
Based on what happens during conference tournaments, teams can move up or down, even dropping out or sneaking into the field of 68 in the final vote before Sunday’s reveal.
So, if Murray State managed to get eight of votes on that initial ballot, they’re pretty much guaranteed a spot in the field.
If they got three to seven votes, there was at least some discussion, but their fate is uncertain from there.
If two or fewer members penciled in the Racers on Wednesday, Murray State was headed to the National Invitation Tournament from the start.