To: Mike Bobinski
NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Selection Committee
I would like to apologize for the familiarity, Mike, but I wanted to make this a personal plea in behalf of all Minnesotans who believe in fair play when it comes to athletic competition.
The Star Tribune reported several remarks from your conference call Wednesday on the selection criteria that your committee will be using this week to determine the 68-team field for this year’s tournament.
We here at the Strib couldn’t help but read between the lines of some of your comments and reach the conclusion that our University of Minnesota student athletes will be announced as part of that field come Sunday evening.
We’ve had a lot of humiliations thrown at us here in Minnesota. We had our hero Harry Peter Grant lose those four Super Bowls. We had a presidential candidate lose to Richard Nixon and another collect 13 electoral votes. On Jan. 8, 1999, we watched with mouths agape as Jesse Ventura took the oath as our governor.
I’m down on bended knee here, Mike: Come Sunday, don’t reward this collection of dedicated underachievers and their hapless coach with one of the precious 37 at-large bids.
To assist you in reaching that right-minded decision, I’ve taken the liberty of refuting the thoughts you expressed that seemed to favor our rodents.
• On good wins vs. bad losses, your response included: “This is just me as a single committee member. ... I would tell you that the ability to beat good teams is really, probably a clear indication of your deservedness. ... I think that to me weighs a little bit heavier than the loss side of it.”
Obviously, we respect your opinion — you’re a chairman, after all — but you’re dead wrong when it comes to our Gophers. The bad losses by our student athletes far outweigh the wins.
You got Memphis down as a good win, I presume? That game was played in November in the Bahamas. That was a lifetime ago, and in no way reflects on the Gophers witnessed in a majority of the 14 games starting Jan. 23.
You’re also giving credit for the 76-63 victory over Michigan State in the Big Ten opener, right?
There’s also this view: Tubby Smith’s Gophers making such a descent as Tom Izzo’s Spartans have made such a rise should give demerits for what happened on Dec. 31 to the Gophers, not honor points.
For every good win, Mike, I can trump it (and then some) with bad losses: at Northwestern, at Wisconsin (45-44), at home vs. Illinois, at Iowa (72-51), at Ohio State (71-45), at Nebraska, at Purdue and, finally, on Thursday, 51-49 to an Illini bunch that had one player go 10-for-16 from the field and the rest of the klutzes go 8-for-40.
• There was a question about the teams passing the “eye test” or losing by a big margin in games. This was the interesting aspect of your response:
“I don’t know that any particular loss ... would really significantly damage or advantage any team’s position in the field. ... One game is ultimately one game and we need to keep it in perspective.”
Agreed, Mike. That’s why I gave you a list of eight humiliations for the Gophers over the past 51 days. As for the “eye test,” there are reports that seven Minnesotans suffered temporary blindness watching the telecast of the Gophers’ 53-51 loss at Nebraska.
• You also refuted the long-held notion that importance is placed on a team’s past 10 games:
“We took it out [of the selection criteria] because folks in the media and elsewhere were really fixating on that as an overly weighted determinant ...”
OK, Mike, but can I interest you in the past 14 games as criteria?
If you want to keep perspective over one game, the abomination for the Gophers was the upset of Indiana. There were nine games — yup, nine of 14 — where Tubby’s bricklayers scored 53 points or fewer in regulation.
And I haven’t even mentioned the turnovers.
Mike, we’re begging here.
Show the nation your committee has standards.
Don’t call our name Sunday. We’re busy. We have another failed coach to pay off.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500.