That was the term Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico used to describe the Wolverines’ situation in response to the NCAA Committee’s Top 16 rankings.
The committee released its first installment of the rankings yesterday, and Michigan, who is ranked 11th in both the AP Poll and the Coach’s Poll, was absent. The Wolverines are ranked 14th in the NCAA NET rankings.
“You can say we feel a little bit disrespected,” junior wing Leigha Brown said. “I think that’s just the whole consensus of the team.”
The Wolverines are 12-1 overall (7-1 Big Ten), with their only loss being a four-point defeat to No. 15 Ohio State. Michigan stands at second overall in the conference, behind No. 9 Maryland (14-2, 10-1) and ahead of No. 15 Indiana (13-4, 11-2), the only two Big Ten teams to make the committee’s Top 16.
“The (Southeastern Conference) was really rewarded last night. I’m upset for our league, as I am for our team. It totally feels uphill,” Barnes Arico said about the Big Ten conference and the NCAA selections. “I’ve kind of been outspoken all year long about our conference, and nationally I thought it took a turn, until last night.”
Of the teams ranked by the committee, five teams are in the SEC. South Carolina, Texas A&M, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky were all ranked in the Top 16 despite the latter three being ranked below Michigan in the AP Poll, Coach’s Poll and NET rankings.
The Wolverines’ recent pause may be one possible explanation for the committee’s decision. Of all the teams included in the rankings, UCLA has played the fewest games with 15. Meanwhile, Michigan has only played in 13 games thus far.
South Florida (11-1 overall, 8-0 American) is in a similar situation as the Wolverines, as the team is ranked 12th in the AP Poll and 15th in the Coaches Poll, but still fell out of the committee’s rankings. A contributing factor is likely the fact that Michigan has postponed nine games thus far and South Florida has postponed eight due to COVID-19 problems in both programs.
“For us to be penalized for (postponing) doesn’t seem fair,” Barnes Arico said.
In her passionate words against the actions of the committee, Barnes Arico pointed to the disparity between the women’s team and the men’s team. The Michigan men’s basketball team (14-1 overall, 9-1 Big Ten) is currently ranked third by the men’s basketball NCAA committee and experienced the same two-week shutdown as the women’s team, having only played two more games than the women’s team.
“(The men’s team is) holding solid without playing a game, and they deserve it, but they don’t have to play a game and no one’s turning to our men and saying, ‘Well you didn’t play enough games,” Barnes Arico said. “It’s not the same (as men’s) in that it’s (not) transparent. … I think the league needs to push (the NCAA to be more transparent).”
In dealing with arguments for them to not be ranked, Barnes Arico said that the team also passes the infamous “eye test.”
“We have a National Player of the Year candidate (junior forward Naz Hillmon) on our program that has been talked about all around the country, we have a second player (Brown) that’s arguably one of the best guards in the country on our team,” Barnes Arico said. “She didn’t play in the Ohio State game, which we lost by a possession on the road.”
Division-1 NCAA Selection Committee Chairwoman Nina King provided only a vague justification for Michigan’s omission, per ESPN: “We looked at Michigan but ultimately felt that their body of work didn’t warrant a Top-16 (team).”
Barnes Arico’s one-line response to the perceived snub?
“A slap in the face.”
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