'Cuse Coach Rips Snub

ByABC News

March 13, 2007— -- Jim Boeheim was on his way to practice Monday to coach a team that he said was extremely disappointed.

That disappointment is an understatement compared to how Boeheim feels about his Orange being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Boeheim said the Orange's failure to get a bid Sunday was "the biggest shock of all time." Boeheim said it wasn't even close as to whether or not the Orange should have been in the field since no one had them on the bubble.

"You've heard me say from time to time if you torture the numbers long enough, you can get them to confess to anything." -- Selection committee chair Gary Walters

Boeheim said in 31 years that this is the most shocked he has been.

"I can't believe it," Boeheim said. "If we were on the bubble I would see it, but we weren't on the bubble. If Gary Walters thinks we're not one of the 34 best at-large teams then he's crazy."

Well, later in the afternoon, Walters, the Princeton athletic director who is the chair of the selection committee, said exactly this: "At the end of the day, the consensus of the group was that Syracuse wasn't one of the 34 best at-large teams." Boeheim Speaks

Boeheim said he didn't buy Walters' response that the numbers weren't in Syracuse's favor.

Syracuse finished 10-6 in the Big East, 22-10 overall. Villanova, which finished 9-7 in the Big East, leapfrogged over Syracuse to get a bid.

Boeheim said Walters called Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross to explain why the Orange were out. But Walters defended that call by saying that the numbers can be tortured to work for anyone's argument. He said the committee was looking at a number of different issues with Syracuse.

Walters added, "I have enormous respect for Jim Boeheim. Jim has been quoting any number of statistics. The only reason when I talked to Daryl, talked about some of the quantitative issues, it's only because the quantitative data that we had in front of us, one can use to either support or detract from an argument. You've heard me say from time to time if you torture the numbers long enough, you can get them to confess to anything.

Joe Lunardi's Take

Understand that we're looking at a series of different issues, and they're not just quantitative, they are also qualitative. While I understand Syracuse's disappointment, also understand that we think we made good decisions."

Walters defended Niagara's inclusion in the opening-round game, too. The game, which was created once there became 31 automatic berths with the split of the WAC into the WAC and Mountain West (the committee didn't want to reduce the number of at-large berths from 34), is supposed to be for the two lowest rated teams in the RPI. If that's the case then Niagara wouldn't be in the game since there were four teams that had lower RPI numbers than Niagara -- Central Connecticut State, Weber State, North Texas and Jackson State. Walters said the committee is sensitive to putting in two historically black colleges in the game. Jackson State and Florida A&M, Niagara's opponent in the game Tuesday night in Dayton, come from the two historically black colleges in the SWAC and MEAC.

Jackson State is a 16 seed against Florida, CCSU is a 16 against Ohio State, North Texas is a 15 against Memphis and Weber State is a 15 against UCLA.

Walters said, "First of all, I think we are, as you know, sensitive to the historically black colleges. I think one of the things that we looked at in seeding the last four lines, as we did with seeding the top four lines, was whether or not teams had not only won their regular-season conference but also whether or not they won the conference tournament.

"Obviously, for most of these teams, the conference tournament determines who gets in. In the case of Niagara, they didn't win their regular season, so given a number of teams, and understanding again we have compression down there just as we have in the middle of the bracket, the decision was made to put Niagara in that spot."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.


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