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If you’ve read this website at all lately, you’re probably pretty familiar with social media mobs. You know, the idea that whenever any type of news breaks in society these days — whether it’s in politics, in sports, whatever — everybody is always quick to jump on social media with an opinion.
It doesn’t matter where the opinion comes from. It doesn’t matter what basis it stems from. What’s most important is just getting your opinion out there, getting it out there as fast as you can, and making sure that the opinion is as extreme as possible. Facts aren’t nearly as important as your sheer and utter anger!
Every social media overreaction sounds the same: “Something bad happened! Somebody needs to be fired! And it needs to have happened yesterday! For the sake of the children, won’t somebody do something already!”
It’s really a weird, sad phenomenon, but something that is impossible not to notice if you spend enough time on social media.
And it happens every day. The question you’re probably asking yourself right now though is why we’re specifically talking about it now.
Well, the answer is simple really: Because I couldn’t help but notice an extreme example of it when the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced on Sunday.
Now look, I’m no bracket expert (I don’t have the schoolin’ for that), but overall, I actually thought the NCAA Tournament selection committee did pretty well this year. They adjusted teams based on how they’re playing right now (for example, giving Wisconsin a No. 1 seed when they deserved it, and bumping Virginia down when they didn’t) and by not overcompensating based on geography like in years past. The committee could’ve easily given Gonzaga a three-seed just to keep them in the West, but gave them the No. 2 seed (which they deserved) in the South instead.
But wait, there’s more!
To the committee’s credit there were no obvious screw jobs this year (like putting Kentucky as the eight-seed in Wichita State’s bracket a season ago), and no brackets that appeared to be weighted heavily to favor one team (cough…Duke….cough) or to stack the deck against another (cough…Kentucky… cough) like in years past.
At first glance, it seemed to me like the tournament committee actually did a pretty solid job of picking and seeding the field this year.
The social media mob however, disagreed.
And let me tell ya, they were NOT happy about UCLA’s inclusion in the NCAA Tournament field.
Again, I’m no bracket expert, but looking at the Bruins resume, things appear to be pretty solid to me. Nothing spectacular, but in a tournament where you have to take 68 teams (even though not nearly that many are deserving), the Bruins seem to match-up nicely with the last few teams who made it. They finished fourth in a solid Pac-12 conference, have wins over Oregon and Utah, and played a stacked out of conference schedule that included Kentucky, Gonzaga, Oklahoma and North Carolina.
Again, not great. But not awful. Well, except to the social media mob. Ask them, and they thought putting UCLA into the tournament field was not only a travesty, but arguably the biggest conspiracy since the 2000 Presidential election.
Some examples of the Tweets I saw Sunday night after UCLA was announced: an “awful job by the committee,” the committee’s “worst performance yet,” and “Siskel and Ebert give the committee two thumbs down!” (Ok, I made that last one up). Some even went as far to say that putting UCLA in the field was “only about the money.”
No seriously, people actually said it was about the money.
Let’s dispel that one right away, because while I’ve never been in any high-stakes TV negotiations, that just might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure that CBS and Turner still get the same sized check whether UCLA or North Dakota Tech is the last team in the field. I’m also pretty sure that ratings for the entire NCAA Tournament aren’t going to be skewed by one UCLA game…. especially since, well, how do I put this nicely… nobody in LA cares about UCLA basketball.
No seriously, you’ve got to believe me on this one. I’ve lived in LA for three years now, and I’ve heard significantly more about the Lakers’ lottery pick this winter on talk radio — a pick they probably won’t end up keeping, by the way — than I’ve heard anything related to UCLA basketball. I can say with near certainty that putting them in the NCAA Tournament field wasn’t a cash grab by anyone.
But if you listened to the social media mob on Sunday night, you would’ve thought that the committee negotiated a secret agreement with North Korea to get UCLA into the field.
And ultimately you know what I found so funny? How many of those outraged people actually watched UCLA play this season? I also wonder how closely the mob watched teams like Temple, Colorado State and Miami (FL) — all schools that everyone is convinced should’ve gotten in over UCLA — to see just how they stacked up against the Bruins.
Because I’ll be honest, looking at their resumes, everybody has big-time flaws.
Take Temple for example, who went a combined 1-4 against the only two half decent teams in their conference, SMU and Cincinnati (and I say that as a graduate of UConn). Colorado State lost twice to Wyoming….who wouldn’t have made the Big Dance if they hadn’t won their conference tournament. Miami lost by 28 at home to Eastern Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky! Which sounds more like a turnpike than a college basketball powerhouse.
The point being that everyone’s resumes have holes, and if we’re being honest, there probably weren’t 68 deserving teams to begin with. But somebody had to get in, and it just so happened to be UCLA.
And it leads me to the most important question: Is anyone that upset that UCLA made the field? Or did they simply see their buddy tweeting about it, do a quick search of UCLA’s schedule and jump into the conversation because they felt like they had to?
It seems to me like it’s probably the latter, but that’s just the world we live in. This isn’t about UCLA, it isn’t about their schedule, and it’s certainly not about Colorado State or Temple either. It’s about the fact that in this day and age, everyone always has to be mad about something.
Yesterday, it just happened to be UCLA and the NCAA Tournament.
I can’t wait to find out what it will be today.