Craig Littlepage took aim at critics of the NCAA selection committee Monday, even firing back at CBS.
One day after the committee was criticized harshly for its 65-team field, its chairman defended the panel's work, saying he wanted a better working relationship with the NCAA's $6 billion broadcast partner.
Then, pressed on comments made by CBS analyst Billy Packer, Littlepage mixed honesty with diplomacy.
"I think Billy made the comment that he hadn't seen the Missouri Valley Conference play, but he felt comfortable enough to talk about their lower level of performance, not only this year but over time," Littlepage said. "It seems to be counterintuitive, if you will, that he'd make a comment like that."
Littlepage, the athletic director at the University of Virginia, praised the 10-member committee for its dedication, thorough evaluations and ability to work under a challenging deadline.
Some scrutiny, he acknowledged, was expected.
But the scope of the criticism during Sunday's selection show telecast and on other networks clearly irritated Littlepage.
The controversy from Sunday's brackets seemed as wide-ranging as the tournament itself - Packer and CBS aside - and former committee member Jim Delany called the criticism unprecedented.
Among the issues were:
¢Cincinnati's omission despite a strong strength of schedule ranking and a relatively high RPI.
¢The at-large selections of Air Force and Utah State, two teams with lower RPIs than schools such as Michigan and Missouri State - which were left out of the field.
¢Seedings that gave Tennessee a No. 2 seed, higher than either Southeastern Conference regular-season champion LSU or tournament champ Florida, and had No. 14 George Washington dealt an eight seed in the Atlanta Regional despite having the best record in the field at 26-2.
But what riled Littlepage was Packer's assertion the committee look at a five-year track record of teams and conferences.