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Cook: NCAA selection committee doesn’t care about MW

Colorado+State+University+guard+Joe+Palmer+dunks+during+the+CSU+game+against+The+University+of+New+Mexico+in+the+Mountain+West+mens+basketball+championship+semi-final+game+March+15.+CSU+lost+74-61.
Collegian | Emma Askren
Colorado State University guard Joe Palmer dunks during the CSU game against The University of New Mexico in the Mountain West men’s basketball championship semi-final game March 15. CSU lost 74-61.

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

New year, same bullshit.

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No matter how good the Mountain West gets, it just never seems to be enough for the people who decide the field of 68.

Despite having a record six teams advance into the big dance, Sunday still felt like a major disappointment across the MW.

With embarrassingly low seeding and Colorado State and Boise State picked as two of the final four teams in, the NCAA selection committee did the MW horribly wrong, and nothing feels like it will change.

One of the biggest losers of Sunday was the MW champions New Mexico, who were ranked as an 11 seed. Despite coming into the tournament 23rd in the KenPom and 22nd in the NCAA NET rankings, the selection committee decided there were 40 teams better than the Lobos.

If you watched even a lick of UNM men’s basketball this season, you would quickly realize that’s an outlandish idea.

You don’t have to like the Lobos, but you can’t deny that Jaelen House, Donovan Dent, JT Toppin and so many other athletes on that team are some of the best in the nation.

I can make an argument that New Mexico is a better team than at least 19 of the teams ranked in front of them. And a minimum of five of those teams would be easy layups.

For the conference that boasts the national champion runner-ups in San Diego State, the lack of disrespect continues to be laughable.

If UNM can make that argument, several of the other MW teams are right a long with them.

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Gonzaga and Michigan State over CSU, Boise State, Nevada and UNM?

Sure, they have the better metrics, which matters slightly, but anyone who watched the product on the floor put on by the Bulldogs and the Spartans compared to that of the Rams, Broncos, Wolf Pack and Lobos would soon start to realize the superiority of the MW.

We’re talking about a Gonzaga team who lost to Santa Clara, who lost to San Jose State and UNM — who beat Santa Clara by 17. And then Michigan State was a 19-14 team and a massive disappointment this season. The team viewed as a disappointment is the team we should make prove itself in the harder matchup, not the team that achieved higher than what people predicted.

The worst part about everything is this is a year-in, year-out occurrence. Famously, Air Force was a ranked team that wasn’t selected for the tournament in 2007, when they were top 30 in the rating percentage index and Colorado State in 2015 after going 27-6.

The committee did a grossly mediocre job of ranking the MW this season, and it sets them up perfectly to garner even more disrespect.

The MW is set up so badly for people to point back to this season and justify their wrong opinions about them being an inferior conference. If you’re set up to fail, oftentimes, you fail. March magic might prevail, but it is still disgusting how the Mountain West was seeded.

So many other conferences and teams get the benefit of the doubt due to their history, which continues to be a stain on the committee’s decisions. The committee really took the conference that is tied third for most bids out of all 32 conferences and pushed them into the back.

The committee should be embarrassed for what happened on Sunday. As college basketball continues its outrage over the seeding, it becomes distastefully apparent how incompetent the choices made on Sunday were. 

The continued disrespect by the NCAA toward mid-major schools is the opposite of what March Madness is all about. The big guys get their air time all year long, and those aren’t the teams we fall in love with.

When I think back, it’s those small schools that create the Cinderella runs I love. Saint Peter’s with Doug Edert, Oral Roberts with Max Abmas and Loyola Chicago who brought Sister Jean into our hearts.

The majority of people who watch even a little bit of college basketball know about Gonzaga, Michigan State and the other perennial tournament teams.

But the casual viewer likely doesn’t know a lot about the schools like the ones in the Mountain West. And it’s not because of a lack of storylines. There are plenty of amazing tales that have come out of the MW and so many amazing reporters across the conference.

Think of Danny Sprinkle and Great Osobor coming in and running the conference in their first year, Jaedon LeDee’s All-American-level season and just the unheard-of intensity of the conference. There isn’t a single conference in the NCAA that can say they had seven teams with a legit chance to win the conference —  something that showcased how exciting the MW was.

Why try to bury them in horrible seeding when we can appropriately seed the teams that aren’t always in the spotlight and bring the attention to those storylines?

At the end of the day, all we can hope for is that the MW prevails in their games and leaves a sour taste in the mouths of the people who continue to have doubts of the greatness out west.

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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About the Contributors
Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.
Emma Askren
Emma Askren, Sports Editor
Emma Askren, alongside Damon Cook, is the fall 2023 sports editor for The Collegian. She began working at The Collegian during her first year in the fall of 2022, when she covered the swim and dive team as well as anything sports-related. She is currently a sophomore at Colorado State University, where she is majoring in journalism and media communication and double minoring in Spanish and sports management. During her first year, she joined the rowing team, began working as a reporter for The Collegian and working at the Student Recreation Center. Askren applied to CSU as a journalism major, knowing she wanted to combine her passion for sports and writing to create a fulfilling career. Upon realizing that Rocky Mountain Student Media was hiring for first-years, she jumped at the opportunity to become a writer for The Collegian. While working for the sports desk, Askren has had the opportunity to write about hockey, logging, whitewater rafting and the importance of women in sports. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she seeks to break the status quo and become a successful sports journalist following graduation. Following a year as a sports reporter, Askren became a co-editor for the sports desk alongside Cook. Together the duo seeks to create a new and improved sports desk that caters to all readers of The Collegian and beyond.

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