Oh, hello there, Mr. Dick Vitale! Youre the practical face of college basketball who has became known as one of the sports biggest cheerleaders through your work as a broadcaster for ESPN. How do you feel about the inclusion of the University of Oklahoma (OU) over in-state rival Oklahoma State University (OSU) in this years NCAA tournament field?
I think it is a disgrace. I think it is an embarrassment, and its a humiliation to what this tournaments about. To tell you the truth, it frustrates the hell out of me.
That was Vitales televised take on ESPN after the tournament bracket was fully unveiled on a TBS-broadcast selection show. Vitale was far from the only one upset at OUs spot at a 10 seed in the annual 68-team March tournament bracket. Plenty of fans and pundits wondered why the selection committee felt OU had earned a spot after losing 11 of its last 15 games and not winning a single game away from Norman after the calendar turned to 2018.
Vitale was especially puzzled by OUs inclusion over OSU, which beat the Sooners twice this season. The Cowboys also beat No. 1 seed Kansas twice, No. 5 West Virginia once on the road and No. 9 Florida State.
In the early portion of the season, OU achieved a high national ranking off the stellar play of phenomenal freshman guard Trae Young, whose size and playing style remind many of current pro star Steph Curry. But as teams began to tailor their defensive schemes to shutting down Young, the Sooners fell far from national graces.
One could argue that OUs inclusion is comparable to naming the Titanic as one of the worlds best boats after it sank just because of how highly regarded it was when its journey began. At the end of the day, a sinking ship is a sinking ship.
Of course, the Sooners nearly proved their doubters wrong in the opening round, taking No. 7 seed Rhode Island to overtime before Young and friends ultimately ran out of firepower.
Young has likely now played his last game as a Sooner, trading his amateur status for the chance to make millions in the National Basketball Association (NBA). If he lives up to his immense talent, his former schools embarrassment of a selection will just be a small footnote in a storied and fruitful career.