Mustangs Headed Back To The Dance
BY: Dic Humphrey
SMU was clearly getting an NCAA Tournament bid before the American Conference post season tournament with 27 regular season wins, but the Mustangs left no doubt by winning the tournament and claiming the conference’s automatic win. It’s the 12th time in SMU history to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament and the second time in three years.
The Ponies are the six seed in the East Region. On Friday, they’ll play the winner of Wednesday’s play-in game between Southern California (24-9) and Providence (20-12). Based upon the current Sagarin ratings, the Mustangs will be a seven point favorite against either team. Game time is 2:10 PM. The Mustangs lost to USC last November in Los Angeles by the score of 78-73. If the Ponies win Friday, they will play the winner of Baylor and New Mexico State on Sunday, March 19.
SMU undoubtedly feel a bit slighted to be just a six seed. As the regular season conference champion, post-season tournament champion and winner of 30 games, they clearly expected a four or five seed, perhaps even a three. However, SMU fans have to be pleased to play in Tulsa. It’s a comfortable drive from Dallas. SMU will have a good following, and for sure the NCAA selection committee takes the ability to sell tickets into account in placing teams.
Both SMU Head Coach and Athletic Director Rick Hart said on the local radio broadcast that they felt the team deserved to play at a Friday/Sunday venue next weekend after playing late Sunday afternoon. “This team needs rest more than practice,” Jankovich said. The Tulsa assignment satisfied that desire.
Another advantage is that as the six seed, they play the winner of a Wednesday play-in game. The Mustangs will be able to scout their opponent; and a plus is the fatigue factor, as the Mustangs will have five days between games and their opponent will have just two.
As for whether the seeding matters, Jankovich said, “Not at this point. The biggest thing that matters is who we play. There are good match-ups and bad match-ups.”
All the speculation is over. The Mustangs have had the goal to do some serious damage in the NCAA Tournament. Next Friday, they’ll have the chance to start the process.