The NCAA Tournament selection committee has to be smiling now. They were taken to task for giving VCU an at-large bid. Critics came from all over the country with gripes about the CAA getting a third team in.
After what’s transpired the last two weeks, including VCU's 72-71 overtime win over Florida State on Friday night, the CAA can rest assured it will start getting the respect it deserves. George Mason, despite getting handled by Ohio State in the second round, was impressive in its first-round win over Villanova. Old Dominion lost to Butler at the buzzer. There’s certainly no shame in that.
Obviously most critics will remain steadfast in their opinions that VCU shouldn't have made the tournament, but the critics and the experts are not always right.
The CAA’s tournament record so far: 5-2. Not bad for a “mid-major”.
But will this help the conference in the long run? That's up for debate. After George Mason's run to the Final Four in 2006, a lot of observers believed the conference would become a perennial multi-bid league.
That never materialized.
Some believe the CAA is on par with the Atlantic 10, which received three bids (Temple, Xavier, Richmond). But the Atlantic 10 has been a multi-bid league ever since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. And the Atlantic 10 has an extensive history in the tournament.
Temple has five Elite 8 appearances, Xavier has made five Sweet 16 and two Elite 8 appearances since 1990, while St. Joseph's has five trips to the second round, three Sweet 16 appearances and two Elite 8 runs under its belt since 1981. We can't forget about UMass' run to the Final Four under John Calipari.
This season's accomplishments could finally get the CAA over the hump and on its way to multi-bid status.