Heading into the Selection Show, I had a feeling that the Selection Committee was going to produce a questionable bracket – and I was correct. Although the actual field was okay – can only really question Florida’s inclusion, and even that’s not a big deal – there were plenty of strange seeding decisions by the committee. Let’s take a look at some:
- How did Duke surpass Syracuse on the top seed line? The Blue Devils had one top-25 win all season, and struggled on the road. While I do think that they deserved a No. 1 seed, I don’t see how they jumped the Orange. Syracuse had five top-25 wins and went 11-2 away from home. Throw in the fact that Duke got the worst No. 2 seed in its region (Villanova) and it seems that the Committee really favored the Blue Devils.
- Why did three Big East teams get placed in the same region? That’s a rookie move. There was no Big East team in Kansas’ sub-region or Kentucky’s sub-region. Meanwhile, there is a chance West Virginia can play Marquette and Notre Dame can face Villanova in the Sweet 16.
- California apparently wasn’t even close to be left out of the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Bears received a No. 8 seed despite winning one game against top-50 teams all season. Sure, they were the regular-season champs of the No. 8 RPI conference, but their resume was far from impressive.
- I think that the Big East got a little too much credit. Villanova as a No. 2? Notre Dame and Marquette both as No. 6 seeds? I think each of those teams is overseeded by at least one seed line. The Irish and Golden Eagles both finished strong, but I think a six is too high.
- How did San Diego State only get an 11 seed? The Aztecs had the No. 18 RPI, four wins against the top-50 and won the Mountain West conference tournament. Somehow, that profile is two seed lines worse than California?
- Rough set-up for Temple. The Owls are underseeded at a No. 5 seed and then they get the best No. 12 seed in Cornell. The Owls went 7-3 against the top-50 and had a top-10 RPI; they deserved better.
- New Mexico State received a better seed than Siena? Based on what? The Saints had a better RPI and won both the MAAC regular-season and conference tournaments.
- Northern Iowa was 10-1 against the top-100 – and received a No. 9 seed. Compare that to California or even the Panthers’ first-round opponent, UNLV, and it’s unfathomable that UNI received so low of a seed.
- What did Tennessee do to get dropped to a six seed? The Volunteers beat two No. 1 seeds in Kansas and Kentucky and went 12-6 against the top-100. However, they get the best No. 11 seed in San Diego State and then potentially draw a hot No. 3 seed in Georgetown.
- UTEP goes 8-4 against the top-100 and dominates Conference-USA throughout the season – and the Miners get a 12? Utah State hadn’t lost since January 4 before the WAC title game and somehow received the same seed as New Mexico State. The committee did no favors for these regular-season championships.
- And for the one team I got wrong – Florida. I put Illinois as my last team in the field, and while I can’t really blame the Committee for including the Gators, I still don’t really agree with it. Florida had three wins over NCAA Tournament teams: Michigan State, Tennessee and Florida State. On the other hand, Illinois showed throughout the season that they belong in the Big Dance, beating Vanderbilt and Clemson in non-conference play and then defeating Wisconsin twice and beating Michigan State. Illinois had worse computer numbers, but got further in the conference tournament than Florida. Either way though, I can’t complain too much about Florida over Illinois – bubble teams had a chance to win their way into the Tournament, and most of them failed.
Well, all the talk of bubbles and RPIs and resume wins and SOS, is finally over. We can now put questions and concerns about the NCAA Tournament field in the past and focus on what truly matters – the actual bracket, and the national championship.