ranked Louisiana Tech, with a rawboned kid named Karl Malone, also was stuck with a five.
"I'm shocked," said Gourde. "I thought we'd finally started to be respected on a national level, but apparently not. You can't win many more than 29 games. Do they want us to win them all next year?
"We dropped from sixth in the rankings to about 24 in one day. How does that happen?"
According to Lee Fowler, athletic director at North Carolina State and chairboob of the Committee to Disenfranchise Mid-Majors, it happened because 12 of the Zags' wins came against teams slotted lower than 200 in the dreaded Ratings Percentage Index, the computer formula where actual on-court achievement goes to die.
"They're a tough team for us to seed," Fowler said.
Oh, hey, sorry the Zags couldn't make it any easier on you, Lee.
"We looked at their strength of schedule a little bit. They were out around the area where a lot of teams they lost to were behind them."
Huh? A lot?
They lost three times -- and only once since Nov. 24. Yes, two of those losses, to Marquette (23rd in the RPI) and Pepperdine (49) were to teams behind the Zags (21st).
I guess when you don't have even one clue, two does sound like a lot.
You can argue Top 50 victories until your tonsils blister, but the Gonzaga experience alone -- the 12th seed last year and this latest nonsense -- has made it clear that what the NCAA selectors are practicing is bit of bracket genocide.
The RPI was concocted to save the NCAA tyrannosaurs from the jaws of low-rent relatives who can't hope to compete in football but who, because of the nature of basketball, can put together five guys and make life hell for them on the court. With no means to force big schools to play the smaller ones anywhere but on the bigs' home courts -- if at all -- the strength-of-schedule factor in the RPI is the biggest hoop joke of our time, next to "Season on the Brink."
Throw in the new policy to lessen travel for the top seeds and those early upsets that made last year's tourney such a hoot -- and cut the bigs out of a few million dollars -- will soon dry up, along with the fun.
"When we got done with our non-league schedule, we were eighth in the RPI," said Few, who booked Illinois, St. John's, Texas, Marquette, Fresno State and St. Joseph's this year. "I don't know what else I can do, unless you want to play every game away from home and I won't do that. I had to beg Illinois to play on their home floor this year. They wanted to cancel."
And you can't redo the schedule in season. All those teams Few lined up are traditional Top 40 programs. That Texas, Fresno State and New Mexico all lost their best players for various periods after playing GU, and that St. John's phoned it in should not be held against a coach who's trying.
Surely there must be a silver lining in all of this, no?
"Well, if anything, it probably helps as far as getting our guys to play with a chip on their shoulders," Few said. "They like doing that."
One chip -- boulder-sized -- coming up.