Saint Joseph’s won the Atlantic-10 Tournament for the second time in three years on Sunday, and the Hawks (27-7) were rewarded with an 8-seed in the West Region. They play No. 9 Cincinnati (22-10) in first-round action on Friday at 9:57 p.m. ET.
That’s all well and good, but Phil Martelli can’t get over how much the committee disrespected the A-10 on Selection Sunday.
“I think what they did to St. Bonaventure was a disgrace,” the Saint Joe’s head coach said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They changed the criteria team-by-team. As much as I’m elated for our group, I’m a little bit down and despondent for the Atlantic-10 and for that terrific team at St. Bonaventure. They got mistreated by this committee.”
The Bonnies (22-8, 14-4) won a share of the A-10 regular-season championship and had won 10 of their last 12 games, with one loss coming on the road and another coming in overtime. They also beat Saint Joe’s twice – by a combined 19 points.
No matter. They’re in the NIT.
Is this an indicator of how the committee views the A-10?
“I have no idea,” Martelli said. “How you can look at this league and not recognize an RPI of 29 – that team beat us twice. They tied for the regular-season championship in our league. They won at Dayton – an extraordinary win. And to have them on the outside looking in, it’s just wrong. You can give me all the explanations that you want, and I’m not pigeonholing any team that they put in. But what they did to that group of kids is borderline criminal.”
Martelli believes the A-10 is fighting an uphill battle when it comes to recognition and respect.
“I don’t think there’s any question about that,” he said. “Look, they hijacked this tournament last year and made it about the Power 5. I haven’t looked at it closely enough this year to say the Power 5 got an advantage, but the Atlantic-10 is the best basketball-centric conference in America, and for us to have one of our regular-season co-champions not be in, it’s wrong. I know that we’ll do a lot of studying and the Atlantic-10, led by (commissioner) Bernadette McGlade, will have an answer.”