Where will the Panthers be seeded in NCAA tourney?

RYAN HERRING, Sports Columnist

This Sunday will be a special day in sports. Because it is March, that means that it is time for the madness to begin.

So far, this month has lived up to its name with some thrilling conference tournament finales. Our very own UNI Panthers had a little something to do with this.

Wes Washpun’s game winner at the buzzer, sending the Cats to the tournament for the second-straight year, defines the phenomenon we call March Madness. Many tickets to the tournament have been punched and there are a lot left to go.

Some teams have automatic bids from winning their conference tournaments, some teams lost their conference tournaments but have solid resumes ensuring they’ll get in, and then there are the restless teams on the bubble.

This leaves college basketball fans with the following questions: Will my team make it in? What seed will they get? Who will they play? Where will they be playing? Well, all of these questions will be answered on March 13: Selection Sunday.

This will be a day full of emotion as players join with their teams, friends and families to await the reveal of this year’s NCAA tournament bracket. A long year filled with hard work and dedication has lead them to this moment.

A moment where all their efforts are rewarded is by seeing their school’s name pop up on that screen, putting them in the field to compete for the ultimate prize.

On the flip side, there will be some teams that will be left heart broken. There are a lot of really good college basketball teams out there and only 68 make it in.

So, unfortunately, some good teams will be left out. It is all up to the selection committee to decide. A tough decision to say the least.

The committee has shown in past years they really value who a team has played and who they have beaten. This gives the advantage to the schools in Power 5 conferences, because they play stiff competition regularly, which means that the mid-major schools need to make sure they are scheduling tough non-conference games to gain respect early in the year.

However, there are two problems with this.

1: Sometimes teams are playing completely different at the end of the year than they were at the beginning of the year.

2: The big schools don’t like to schedule road games with mid-majors because they have a lot to lose and little to gain.

This year, the Power 5 conferences (and the Big East, which is the next biggest conference) had 86.5 percent of their non-conference games either at home or at a neutral site, meaning they rarely had to demonstrate themselves on the road.

Personally, I’d rather see a tough mid-major team make it to the Big Dance over a mediocre Power 5 team. This gives us the underdogs that we’ve come to know and love, known as Cinderella teams.

Last year, UCLA made the tournament with a 20-13 record while Colorado State missed the tournament with a 27-6 record. It just goes to show it’s all about who you played that year.

It’s also a big factor in their seeding as well. UNI had only three losses last year and was given a No. 5 seed, even though they were ranked top 10 in the national polls.

There are always going to be people upset with the results of Selection Sunday. I would like to see more respect for the little guys this year. Regardless of who is in or out, you can bet it will be a great tournament.

The selection show will air this Sunday on CBS beginning at 4:30 p.m. Any Panther fans out there are welcome to the public viewing party at Gallagher Bluedorn to share this special moment with the UNI team and Panther Nation.