Alex Gallardo / The Associated Press

Cal Poly’s Kyle Odister, left, formerly of Rio Americano High School, steals the ball from UC Irvine’s Chris McNealy on Friday in Anaheim.

Poll

Do Cal Poly and Texas Southern belong in the NCAA Tournament?

Leading Off: A couple of underdogs ready for a day in sun

Published: Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2014 - 10:58 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Mar. 20, 2014 - 8:08 am

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

vcontreras@sacbee.com


Today’s poll

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


Monday’s results

How many games will the Kings win this season ?

• Less than 28: 72%

• 28 or more: 28%

Total votes: 224

Read more articles by Victor Contreras



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