Air Force gets NCAA shaft

Mar 12, 2007 10:38 PM

Colorado and Colorado State figured to sit out this year’s Dance, but Air Force?

Talk about being left at the altar.

The Falcons started the season 17-1, best in school history. Las Vegas is imploding the old Stardust this week. Seems Colorado Springs beat Sin City to the punch.

The last straw came at the Mountain West Tourney, where host UNLV took advantage of home cooking at the Thomas & Mack to win the title and gain one of two bids the NCAA committee handed out to Thursday’s official start to the Madness.

The Rebels and tourney runnerup BYU were issued No. 7 and 8 seeds, which was a bit of a rub considering UNLV just broke into the top 25. A No. 6 seed would have kept Vegas away from a possible second round matchup with a No. 2 seed — in this case Wisconsin. Actually as an 8-seed, BYU comes away a bit better.

Of course, to Air Force, those matters are hardly a concern. What should be is that four consecutive losses down the stretch, including a bitter first-round setback to Wyoming turned what seemed a glorious season into an absolute nightmare.

It just doesn’t seem right. Air Force was 23-4 until disaster struck. The Falcons failed to cover the spread in their final five games and were just 4-13 against the number in the final 17 horrific contests.

At least Colorado State went down fighting in a gallant second round loss to UNLV. Colorado’s chips were lost early in the season and Big 12 conference games did nothing to turn that ship around.

But Air Force? Only Clemson can understand how the Falcons feel. The Tigers were the last team in NCAA Division I to lose a game and somehow managed to blow their bid to the Dance as well.

Again, that’s little consolation for the Force, which has a whole year of second-guessing and depression in store. Teams with far worse records than the Falcons will be playing in the Dance. It’s likely Coach Jeff Bzdelik’s team will receive an NIT invite, but that’s a sister-kisser of an event. Just ask South Carolina, which appears headed for a possible third straight NIT title.

Maybe Air Force can become the 66th best team in the country. Sad thing is the Falcons are a lot better than the two teams selected to Tuesday’s play-in game — Florida A&M and Niagara. Air Force was nationally ranked. FAMU and ”˜Viagara’ are rank.

Playing in the Mountain West certainly didn’t help Air Force’s cause. East Coast bias? You decide. It is clear though that losing four straight games prior to the NCAAs is no way to gain friends and influence people.