UM has mountain-like climb

The NCAA selection committee either bypassed University of Miami men's basketball all together all year or must not think much of one of the four best teams in the Big East Conference this season.

The Hurricanes put out pretty impressive evidence in the form of a 24-7 record and a second-place conference finish, one that didn't need four days of reviewing by nine rim-glassed, loafer-wearing over-the-hill committee members.

In deciding the seeding-pairings this time around, the committee added a new twist in order to keep teams playing closer to home. But there is a good chance the Hurricanes won't need to worry about the afore mentioned procedure.

After putting together perhaps the best season in school history during the regular season (which apparently the committee watches none of), the Hurricanes should be filled with jubilation as they pack their bags in preparation for the tournament. Instead, they must fell like somebody lined all 12 of them up and let Mike Tyson take his best shot.

That collective look on the faces of the Hurricanes as they sat around watching the selection show could be described with four letters: p-a-i-n. How else would a team that started the season with 14 consecutive victories, beat six NCAA tournament teams and reached the semifinals of the Big East Championships (granted, they lost to Pitt) be feeling today after being thrown to the wolves and instructed to go ‘West young men'?

The committee's placement of the Hurricanes in the West bracket of the NCAA Tournament is like putting Tonya Harding in the ring against Tyson after going 12 rounds with Bernard Hopkins.

Translation: an injustice. Anybody in their right minds would have been a lot more rewarding towards a team that has accomplished more than any other in UM history. Instead, Hurricanes head coach Perry Clark might as well go around telling his players ‘Pack light guys because its going to be a short trip' and throw this in as well ‘Thanks for the memories, its been a great season'.

After seeing their portion of the bracket, John Salmons and co. may have shared the same opinion. Making the Sweet Sixteen in any tournament is no walk in the park, but this is closer to a marathon. All the Hurricanes would have to do to get through their respective bracket is possibly upend the tournament champs in six conferences: Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, WAC, Atlantic 10 and Conference USA. Which would mean potential games against No. 1 seed Cincinnati, No. 2 Oklahoma (27-4), No. 6 Gonzaga (29-3), No. 7 Xavier (25-5), No. 3 Arizona (22-9) or No. 4 Ohio State (23-7).

The fifth-seeded Canes (with a better record than Arizona and Ohio State) are faced with a potential second-round game against the Big Ten Tournament champion Buckeyes. Then all the Hurricanes would have staring at them would be possibly a tilt against Cincinnati, No. 8 seed UCLA (19-11) or No. 9 seed Mississippi State (20-11) in the round of 16.

For those dreaming or really filled with optimism, a win in the Sweet Sixteen would send the Hurricanes into the Elite Eight where Arizona, Gonzaga or Oklahoma would most likely be awaiting. Final Four, anyone? UM in all probability would be facing South No. 1 Duke. National championship game? UM vs. East No. 1 Maryland or Midwest No. 1 Kansas. That's if the Hurricanes can find a way past first-round opponent Missouri (21-11).

Writing that last paragraph took longer than the amount of time Miami will be spending in Albuquerque, New Mexico, site of the opening-round out West. It would be asking a lot of the Hurricanes to get more than one victory in this thing. Arizona, Cincinnati and Oklahoma are much more qualified to go all the way than the Hurricanes are at this point. The way the committee handled the Hurricanes, might leave one to wonder why even play the regular season. UM had more victories than 41 teams in the tournament. Should the Buckeyes be padded on the back ahead of the Canes just because they won the conference tournament?

No question despite their success this season, the Hurricanes are stilled viewed by many as a second-tier college basketball team, myself included. Miami has a ways to go to even find room for themselves in a conversation involving Duke, Arizona, Connecticut and those types.

But the Hurricanes may want to file a complaint for future reference demanding several things from the NCAA: 1.) Make sure the selection committee gets out and watches all the teams during the regular season (hell, even turning the television on once in a while might help). 2.) Scratch the use of the same old athletic directors and commissioners, who always play the favorite game (a.k.a. Duke, Maryland and Kansas), on the committee.

The Hurricanes stay in the NCAA Tournament won't be a long one.

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