You either love or hate the fact that Cal Poly or Texas Southern will be in the field of 64 when the NCAA Tournament begins first-round play Thursday and Friday.
The teams will face each other this afternoon in Dayton, Ohio, in a “play-in” game to determine which upstart school will be seeded 16th in the Midwest Region and play No. 1 Wichita State on Friday in St. Louis.
The Mustangs from San Luis Obispo have a losing record at 13-19, lost 10 of their final 13 regular-season games and were swept by UC Davis – the only team that didn’t qualify for the Big West tourney. Cal Poly would have to win seven games, each just short of a miracle, to win the national championship and finish the season one game over .500.
But in the postseason none of that matters. All that matters is for a team is to win the tournament game it is playing and the next one that follows. And that's exactly what Cal Poly and Texas Southern did: win three consecutive games to win the Big West and Southwestern Athletic conference championships, respectively.
Many will say Cal Poly does not belong in such a prestigious tournament with a losing record. Southern Methodist University (23-9) did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament, even though the Mustangs beat some quality opponents and finished in the Top 25. It SMU’s strength of schedule (No. 114), coupled by a first-round loss in the American Athletic Conference tournament, that killed the Mustangs’ chances.
Cal Poly’s strength of schedule ranked 135, and Texas Southern 347 – of 350 Division I schools.
Some will say that's the beauty of the NCAA's: that an underdog – even a couple of mutts with fleas – can have their day in the sun.
– Victor Contreras
Do Cal Poly and Texas Southern belong in the NCAA Tournament?
• Yes, they won conference tournaments.
• No, more deserving teams were left out.
Vote above, or go to sacbee.com/sports
How many games will the Kings win this season ?
• Less than 28: 72%
• 28 or more: 28%
Total votes: 224