The NCAA tournament may welcome schools of all sizes, but that doesn’t mean they’re all held in the same regard.
Take the comments of Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski on Saturday: “I’ll get in trouble probably for saying it. [I] like the Atlantic 10, they’re a really good conference,” Krzyzewksi said. “I hear people saying there are six teams in there. Come on. I mean, they’re good, but put them in our conference and go through the meat grinder that our conference has to go through.”
His remarks didn’t sit well with Shaka Smart, whose 26-8 Virginia Commonwealth team earned an at-large bid to the tournament after losing in the A-10 title game against St. Joseph’s. Massachusetts, Saint Louis, George Washington and Dayton also earned at-large bids.
“First of all, comparing your own league to someone else’s league is like me saying that my daughter is cuter than your daughter,” Smart said (via ESPN). “There’s a level of bias that comes into play that you shouldn’t even make those comments. Secondly, coaches are too busy to be an authority on someone else’s conference.
“I know our league really well because we’ve been in our league preparing for our league, but I don’t know much about anyone else’s league beyond the teams we’ve played in non-conference play.”
It isn’t as if Smart’s teams haven’t made noise in the tournament. VCU went to the Final Four two years ago and to the third round last year.
“You kind of want to stand up for your league,” he said, “… a lot of this league solidarity, like a Duke guy standing up for N.C. State, that’s all self-serving too. Let’s be honest. ‘Our league is great because it’s our league.’ It’s a lot of that. Let’s just have a level of respect for each other and let’s respect the nine people on the selection committee and the work they put into to picking the 68 teams.”
In case you’re wondering Duke and VCU wouldn’t play one another this year until the championship game.