ESPN’s March Madness bracket expert, Joe Lunardi, put out his latest bracket projection on Mar. 2 and failed to include the best player in the country, LSU’s Ben Simmons.
Lunardi has Simmons and his Tigers in the second group of four teams that would be left out come Mar. 13, when the bracket is determined.
A Mar. 1 article by ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan predicts who he thinks is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, who “should be in” and who “has work left to do” to participate in the madness.
Brennan’s article failed to categorize LSU in any of the three groups, meaning Brennan thinks the Tigers aren’t even on the bubble at this point.
If the NCAA Tournament Committee fails to include LSU in March Madness, not only will they be depriving us of watching the best player this year in one of the most magical events sports has to offer, but they’ll be making a huge mistake.
Johnny Jones’ team may not have had the best non-conference season but his squad sits at 18 wins and 12 losses, with a chance to reach 19 when they travel to Rupp Arena to play Kentucky Saturday.
At 11-6 in the conference, LSU sits just a game back in the SEC standings, behind Texas A&M and Kentucky. If the Tigers beat the ranked Wildcats on Saturday it would be the second time they’ve done so this year. A win would also leapfrog them in the standings for presumably the third seed in next week’s SEC Tournament.
A few weeks ago, analysts were suggesting that winning the SEC Tournament and claiming the SEC automatic bid for March Madness was LSU’s only hope of getting in. With a win Saturday, that definitely shouldn’t be the case and even with a loss, it still shouldn’t.
If LSU wins Saturday, they should be in regardless and if they lose a semifinal run in the SEC Tournament should be good to claim an at-large bid.
The Tigers 18-12 record is solid, not the best, but definitely top 68 in the country, and 11-6 in the SEC is pretty good in and of itself.
The SEC, usually known for its football has been cannibalizing itself this season in basketball and the Tigers have managed to scratch and claw near the top.
Kentucky, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and South Carolina have been very good teams this year and LSU has held its own with all of them, beating three of the four, and still playing tough against South Carolina.
Those three wins plus a current hot streak with wins over Missouri and bubble team Florida is a very good resume, but the Tigers also played then No.1 Oklahoma to a 77-75 loss.
LSU’s resume is good enough that it shouldn’t have to win the conference tournament to be playing in March, especially if it beats Kentucky this week.
Not only will the NCAA Tournament Committee be holding a worthy team out if they fail to include LSU, but they’ll also be depriving us of watching Simmons play and that should carry a little weight because Simmons will surely be in the NBA next year.
The freshman is averaging 19.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and is shooting 56.6 percent from the field.
Everyone wants to see this kid play, and if LSU is on the bubble it should be factored in just a little.
If the Tigers are playing in the NIT come Mar. 13 and not the NCAA Tournament it will be a decision the NCAA regrets.