The Mountain West pretty much wet the bed in the NCAA tournament so far. It started with Boise State losing to La Salle, not that a win or loss would really surprise anyone, then it continued with No. 5 UNLV falling to No. 12 Cal and the cherry on top was New Mexico who fell to Harvard who was a No. 14 seed.
Hindsight is an awesome tool that people like to use and say, "see I told you so." For anyone who says they knew for a fact that the Mountain West would not show up, or have a good tournamnet would be lying.
No one knew that Harvard would have one of their best shooting performances of the year and beat New Mexico. Most felt that even if New Mexico shot as poorly as they did that their defense would make up for it, well it did not. It is not all that fair that UNLV had to play in Cal's backyard as a much higher seed.
This is not an excuse to say why they lost, the teams just played poorly. There are now people saying that they knew the Mountain West would suffer this year, and it was based off of last years tournamnet failures. However, as the saying goes for investing "past pefromance does not guarantee future success." It may give a possibly idea, but it is no guarantee.
People are now pouring over stats and numbers to see how the Mountain West was rated so high. KenPom had the Mountain West lowered than the RPI did, but not that much of a difference to say all these teams would lose.
Over at Grantland, Shane Ryan wroted a scathing piece about the Mountain West. Well, after the way the league performed poorly, and people can go ahead and talk down to the league. This ending line is full of inconsistencies:
Again, I didn't know these teams would have a disastrous first day. I suspected it, based on last year's Mountain West showing and the lack of other available evidence, but I didn't know. We couldn't know, because the results weren't in place to tell us. And the only reason I was right this time is because I copped to my ignorance. If everyone else had admitted theirs, we might have avoided the Mountain West hysteria. But I'm happy that sanity has been restored. I told you so.
So, he told us so, but yet didn't know how the league would perform. Way to stick to your guns on a position. He also pointed back to a post on the website here about my notion that New Mew Mexico should be a one-seed, and basically laughed. Saying there was no mention of the loss to South Dakota State, um if he looked at the chart I mentioned each teams bad loss, just not by name. Also, when was the last time a team rated with an RPI in the 70s a terrible loss. Also, just take a look at Kansas who loss to TCU who was rated well in the 200 range of the RPI.
His argument was that the Mountain West beat up on other teams within the league, and no one team was truly great. That may be true, and it has to do with RPI being a measure of success by a program.
Until there are better formulas out there than the RPI -- which either needs to be updated, or get a new metric -- how can one tell how good a league, or a team is. As mentioned, KenPom had the Mountain West as a respected league as did Jeff Sagarin's own ratings. The league probably was overhyped to an extent, but it is a good league.
It just happened to get a lot of attention as being the best league, and earned five NCAA bids. The league just had a bad day, but the truth is that March matters and teams are judged more heavily on what they do in teh post season. So far, the Mountain West has failed with UNLV and especially New Mexico losing.
Yahoo's Jeff Eisnberg said it well with this, and of course I agree with him:
The New Mexico loss is a disaster for the MWC. I still believe that league was very good this year, but perception will be it was a fraud.— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) March 22, 2013
Of course, getting San Diego State to beat Oklahoma, and maybe more will surely help the league at least some, as would if Colorado State can upset Louisville.