It's that time of year. Time to pick the field for basketball tournaments.
Section II draws up seeds for its sectional basketball tournaments this week. The NCAA will select teams for its tournaments early next month.
Everybody has a different view of how to sort this out and which criteria should matter the most. For the most part, your view of how the process should work depends on what favors the team you follow.
If your team has a great record, you want the numbers to prevail. If your team played tough opponents, you want strength of schedule to win out. If your team won a league or division title, you want that record of success to mean something.
There's a reasonable argument to support any or all of the above criteria. But there's one argument I can't stand: Your team "got hot" late in the season.
Yes, it's beneficial to have your team playing its best ball as the playoffs approach. If you're a coach, I highly recommend it.
But as a selection criteria, it stinks. It suggests that the people making the selections should try to pick the winners.
That is absolutely not their job. They should be selecting teams based on what they deserve, not on how they think it will play out down the road. Those are sometimes two different things.
A win is a win, no matter when it happens. Unless you're charging half-price for games in December, that should be the gold standard.
I'm sorry if injuries held you back early in the season. There are lots of things you can't control that affect your success, but the same will be true after you get into the postseason. Just as nobody's going to give you an extra shot at the quarterfinals because a couple of people got sick, there's no reason to compensate for losses you took before Christmas while your stars were unavailable.
That view gets some people mad, especially in the NCAA, where getting into the Dance is a pretty big thing. Someone always wants to say "Yeah, we're 24-6, but we're 15-1 since we got our point guard back!" To which I say: you still lost those other five games.
I don't feel sorry for anyone left out of the NCAA basketball tournaments. They pick 68 teams for the men's bracket. If you can't get into a 68-team field, no matter what the criteria, it's hard to say you got screwed.
Division I-A college football is a different matter. With only four teams selected, the preference of criteria will make all the difference in the world. I'm thinking here of a team in Ohio.
(Please don't tell me — though most of you will anyway — that the answer is expanding the field. Eventually they will do just that and double the field to eight teams. Wait and see what happens. A half-dozen schools will be screaming at the top of their lungs because they were left out.)
The sectional high school basketball tournaments are pretty much open to any team, so being left out isn't a factor. The difficulty comes in the seeding process, especially when it involves teams in different leagues with no common opponents. It can be an extremely difficult proposition.
I can live with it — and so should you — if they're consistent in how they apply criteria. As long as one of them isn't that a team "got hot" late in the season.