Discussion

Thoughts on the Final Tournament Bracket

by David Mihm | March 14th, 2010

Despite the fact this was one of my worst years ever (64/65 teams; only 50/65 within one line), Guerrero’s Committee did a perfectly fine job of selecting the field.  As I wrote in my Bubble Breakdown earlier this morning, I have no problem with the Gators being selected over Illinois. I don’t think the Illini, or Bulldogs, or Hokies, or anyone else has any legitimate complaint about being snubbed.

However, I found a number of seedings completely bizarre.

Surprises:

Temple: There is no way the Owls are a 5-seed. This team won the A-10 regular season AND postseason Tournament and beat Villanova and Siena in the non-conference season.  And to put them against a very dangerous #12 seed in Cornell, when Michigan State gets overseeded New Mexico State in another region, adds insult to injury.

California: I thought the Bears would get plenty of lobby from Dan Guerrero, but an 8 seed?  When teams with comparable resumes like UTEP and Utah State are seeded as 12s (which I don’t have a problem with), how do you look at the Bears as four spots better?  Let alone a spot ahead of Northern Iowa!

San Diego State / UNLV: These teams basically had the same wins, and SDSU won the tie-breaker on UNLV’s home court last night.  The only possible explanation is that the Committee seeded the Rebels and Aztecs on Saturday morning, before the Mountain West Final.  But if that was the case, why not swap them based on the outcome?

Wake Forest: How does a 9-8 team in a very down ACC get into an 8-9 game?  Only if they’d finished strongly…had they lost to Clemson the last game of the year, they might have missed the Tournament entirely!

A few final thoughts:

  • The Committee broke its own seeding rules TWICE in placing West Virginia and Marquette, and Villanova and Notre Dame in the same subregionals.  I understand the Big East was very good this year, but surely Notre Dame and Marquette were not natural #6 seeds.  Oh, wait. Apparently they were.  Part of this was caused by putting Villanova at a 2, which was also bizarre.
  • Purdue was seeded appropriately as 4 after the injury to Robbie Hummel.  But why not put them in Kansas’ region as the weakest overall #4? Instead, Kansas has to run a possible gamut of Maryland/Mich State, Georgetown, and possibly Syracuse to make the national championship game.
  • There’s no way Duke had a better resume than Syracuse.  I actually would have been fine with West Virginia as the #1 in the South and Syracuse in the West.  But not Duke.
  • Duke may have to go through both Texas A&M and Baylor in Houston to make the Final Four, not exactly an easy road for a supposed #1 seed.

Would love to hear your comments below.

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24 Responses to “Thoughts on the Final Tournament Bracket”  

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  1. Stephen Says:

    As an avid G-Town fan, the devastation of the last minute loss to WVU was heartbreaking; however, to add insult to injury, Villanova, a team we had already beaten by thirteen this year, was seeded ahead of us (i know we also lost by 5 earlier in the year). Considering Georgetown’s great run in the BIG EAST Tourny, in which we handily beat USF, Marquette, and Cuse, do you think they should have taken that two spot over Nova?

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  2. Andrew Says:

    Themes in the brackets:

    1) Geography, the committee placed geographic considerations ahead of selecting top teams based on the s-curve, the weaker regions all have questionable higher seeds playing what amounts to relative road games

    e.g. Duke/Villanova vs. TXAM and Baylor in Houston
    e.g. KY vs. WVU in Syracuse
    Syracuse vs. K-State in Salt Lake City
    Of the top teams, only Kansas has the relative home games and its in the hardest region

    2) No extra weight for last few games, see Illinois & MS State out, Villanova with a 2 seed, Cal, UTEP & USU all in the field

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  3. Christopher Mackinder Says:

    Personally, I’m fine with Villanova as the final No. 2 seed for several reasons: First, when Purdue got hammered, it was apparant the Boilermakers were/are a different team minus Hummel. But there really wasn’t a single team worthy of the No. 2 seed. New Mexico had a 3 seed written all over it as did Pitt and Baylor.

    While many people will argue Georgetown deserved the No. 2 seed, chew on this: Georgetown finished EIGHTH — that’s right, 8th!!! — in its conference and has 10 losses! Any double-digit loss team that finished that low in a conference (regardless of how tough that conference is) would be insane. The fact GT was even in conversation for a No. 2 seed just shows how mediocre the entire field — minus about 7 teams — is.

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  4. Leelee Says:

    As a Duke fan, it irritates me that this committee has given some legitimate reason for the many haters to think that things are rigged for them. We know that they shouldn’t have been ranked ahead of Syracuse, as Mr. Mihm has stated on this site. The reason given by Mr. Guerrero, that Duke finished the year strong is just laughable. Considering that we heard how many times that the the last 10 games, etc… is not taken into account anymore. And that the rest of the field shows that the committee did follow that. And that they get Villanova as the weakest 2 seed, who happens to be the quintessential example this year of losing at the end of the season not costing you.

    I normally don’t complain about the committee, but they need to show some consistency on how they select teams.

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  5. J.R. Says:

    I really don’t get the big drop with Purdue. Sure they lost Hummel. Everyone says they “struggled” without him, but they went 4-2 without him. The two losses were to Michigan St. and Minnesota (both tournament teams). But Purdue gets dropped from a 4 seed to a 2 seed? And you think they should be the weakest 4 seed?

    Is this because Purdue had ONE BAD HALF against Minnesota? How can ONE BAD HALF drop you from a #2 seed to a #4 seed? I mean, I could see maybe the concerns that they are not quite as good without Hummel, but dropping 2 seed lines? Didn’t Cincinnati only drop one seed line when they lost Kenyon Martin, and he was player of the year!

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  6. Tim Spears Says:

    I’m a little confused with the committee’s logic. How can they even claim to observe the S-Curve when they place WVa( #1, 2 SEED) in KY’s region when KY is supposed to be the (#2, 1 SEED) this totally baffles me. I thought WVa was seriously considered for a #1 SEED. Plus how does Duke get the play-in winner, I thought that team was reserved for the Top #1 SEED. CUSE (#4, 1 SEED) appears to get all three, #3 teams 2-4 SEEDS. The committee has totally screwed Kansas & KY IMHO. It appears Duke has by far the easiest bracket and if logic applies with Duke getting the Play-in Team it appears the committee has made them the Top Overall 1 Seed. It just appears the committee has favored a team who has yet to prove it’s self worthy of being the Top Team with the bracket normhally reserved for the best team. Looks as if Kansas and KY gets screwed while Duke gets the easiest ticket with Cuse getting an easier than deserved bracket as well. This appears one of the poorer overall brackets we’ve seen in a while, plus the fact there seems to be big time favorites in the bubble teams. It appears the committee is seriously flawed and needs total revamping.

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  7. B.Starks Says:

    Give it a rest…….KU, Kentucky, Cuse, and DUKE were the top 4 teams in the nation b4 the end of the season tourneys started and all except for Cuse didn’t win their tourney so the top 4 seeds are the correct teams, period!!!!The time for crying is over we are about to experience the next 3 weeks of MADNESS people, so lets enjoy all the crazy basketball that’s about to take place that and see why it’s called MARCH MADNESS………….Oh and 1 more thing before I go LET’S GO DUKE LET’S GO DUKE LET’S GO DUKE

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  8. Eph Says:

    If I were a KY or KU fan I would be pissed. Duke clearly has the easiest run – avoiding Gtown and WVA and even K-State. But I wouldnt be surprised to see them get bumped by Louisville, really. We all know they underperform so, in a way I am happy they will go down in history as the most overrated school in history – by continually losing with 1 and 2 seeds.

    I thought Mihm was just f-ing around by giving Syracuse the Vermont game again, but he read the committee right on that one. Hilarious. If I were Boeheim, I would have had my team watch the 2005 game last night – and maybe every night – to make sure they know that if they dont show up, they’ll get beat.

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  9. David Mihm Says:

    Nope, given the geographic proximity & the fact that game was five years ago (crazy, isn’t it?!) I thought enough time had passed for the rematch. Sorrentine from the parking lot!

    Agreed, watching the last five minutes of that game should be a darn good motivator. I think Wes Johnson may have a tough time with Marqus Blakely–not exactly your typical America East player.

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  10. Earl B. Brand, Jr. Says:

    The non-selection of Mississippi State University is a travesty of justice for the unheralded Bulldog players from small towns in Mississippi and Tennessee,etc. The exact same scenario occurred in 1978 when C.M.Newton and the Committee snubbed State after losing to eventual national champion Kentucky in Lexington 58-57 on a last second charging call against Wiley Peck against one of Twin Towers(Phillips,Robey and eventually finished second overall in the regular season SEC standings. Some things never change, C.M.Newton is still pontificating on the secspots.com. webpage and Commissioner Slive gives kudos to Florida for a NCAA bid. A thirty point loss by Minnesota in the Big Ten final and a Florida team with two fewer SEC wins and a fourth place finish inhte SEC East trumps a small TV market Miississippi State team, which by the way is the first SEC West Champ since the SEC went to A divisional format in 1979 to not receice a bid from the NCAA. We expect as much from Slive and Newton, but I cannot believe that the NCAA Chair, Guerrero, after watching the Bulldogs dismantle the UCLA Bruins in the Wooden Classic and play a great Kentucky team with three NBA lottery picks and two waiting in the wings to two excruciating OT losses(.1 second)

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  11. Earl B. Brand, Jr. Says:

    The non-selection of Mississippi State University is a travesty of justice for the unheralded Bulldog players from small towns in Mississippi and Tennessee,etc. The exact same scenario occurred in 1978 when C.M.Newton and the Committee snubbed State after losing to eventual national champion Kentucky in Lexington 58-57 on a last second charging call against Wiley Peck against one of Twin Towers(Phillips,Robey and eventually finished second overall in the regular season SEC standings. Some things never change, C.M.Newton is still pontificating on the secspots.com. webpage and Commissioner Slive gives kudos to Florida for a NCAA bid. A thirty point loss by Minnesota in the Big Ten final and a Florida team with two fewer SEC wins and a fourth place finish inhte SEC East trumps a small TV market Miississippi State team, which by the way is the first SEC West Champ since the SEC went to a divisional format in 1979 to not receice a bid from the NCAA. We expect as much from Slive and Newton, but I cannot believe that the NCAA Chair, Guerrero, after watching the Bulldogs dismantle the UCLA Bruins in the Wooden Classic and play a great Kentucky team with three NBA lottery picks and two waiting in the wings to two excruciating OT losses(.1 second) did not deserve a bid to the Tournament. It is biased, politically correct decisions like this that makes one believe that it is about the money and not the coaches, players and loyal fans.

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  12. Tom Kladar Says:

    UTEP and CAL had no wins against top 25 teams. Plenty of losses though. Utah St. didn’t even play a top 25 team. Illinois had 10 games against teams that are 4 seed or better. 13 total games against top 25 teams with 5 wins (more than any other school) and two of those losses in OT. Richmond, WF, GT, Fl St had played the same caliber teams the Illini played they would not even make the NIT with 4-6 more losses and fewer wins. The committee used to reward tough scheduling, this year all they looked at were wins. Utah St. over Illinois was a joke. 10-8 in the Big Ten gets them 5th place, yet they take MN who finished below at 9-9. Illini take Ohio St. to double overtime on Saturday, MN get beat by 30 points the next day by the Buckeyes. C’mon. It is suppose to be overall body of work and strength of schedule. Officially boycotting tourney this year.

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  13. Duwayne Says:

    I beg to differ about Illinois, they do have a legitimate gripe…if you think Minnesota was a better team to be in the tourney over Illinois that’s a total joke…who in the world did they play???…The Illini, yes were an up and down team throughout the season, but they beat how many ranks teams???..including Wisconsin IN Wisconsin. Who did that recently? No ONE!!! This committee is a total joke and lost its mind by not picking Illinois… And it’s clear that to have a member of the Big East on the committee, how they got 8 teams into the dance….give other conferences and schools a break and do a fairer job at picking. Also find a way to kill some of the automatic bids so schools that get lucky in a conference tourney still have to match other criteria besides a lucky win, like Houston. This year’s selection committee has a lot to be desired in how they selected. In a word they were pathetic.

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  14. James G Says:

    Minnesota vs. Illinois seems pretty simple to me: Same number of quality wins, but Minnesota is #61 RPI and Illinois is #74 RPI. That woudl have tied for worst RPI ever for an at-large team with ’99 New Mexico. As for the Big East committee members gettinng 8 in, I don’t think so. 8/16 is only 1/2 the conference. The 16-team Big East has never had more than 1/2 it’s teams in, although it often did before it became such a monstrosity. The ACC has half its teams in the tournament, and the Big Ten is close with 5 out of 11. The Big 12 has more than half with 7 out of 12. And the MWC even came close with 4 out of 9. Big East is not overrepresented at all.

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  15. James G Says:

    Utah State did play a top 25 team – they played and beat BYU.

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  16. DT Says:

    David,

    I have to wonder how minuscule the odds are that KU would have the precise three teams they have lost to in the last 35 games in their regional bracket. Do you think it was intentional and does it benefit or hurt KU?

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  17. DMoore Says:

    “There’s no way Duke had a better resume than Syracuse.”

    Duke didn’t. They were placed as a higher 1 seed because the committee thought Syracuse, a team that only goes 7 deep, might have lost their starting center. It now looks like he won’t play in the first weekend.

    “Duke may have to go through both Texas A&M and Baylor in Houston to make the Final Four, not exactly an easy road for a supposed #1 seed.”

    Yeah, that’s pretty bad. But it’ll seem downright friendly compared to what’ll happen if BYU makes it to Salt Lake City.

    “Big East is not overrepresented at all.”

    Yeah, their representation was about right. But they were badly overseeded. Villanova a 2? Pittsburgh a 3? Notre Dame a 6? Really?

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  18. Brian Says:

    I agree with DMoore about the Big East being overseeded. There was a definite Big East bias to the seeding this year (but that seems to be the norm as of late because the Big East gets big media coverage).

    I actually don’t think Kansas has that difficult a road to the championship. They would love to play Michigan State and stomp them. On the other hand, Georgetown and Maryland are both good teams, but Kansas should still not have too much problem with them. There are good teams in the Midwest bracket, but just not that many. Kansas should coast to the final four.

    I actually think Kentucky has the toughest road. Texas should beat Wake Forest, but who knows which team will show up? Texas can be a tough team to face on the second day, especially if (a big if) Pittman shows up. But, Rick Barnes’ teams seem to do well the first weekend. Then, Kentucky may have to play Temple and West Virginia or New Mexico. West Virginia was good enough this year for a #1 seed, and New Mexico is a legit #3 seed (I’m not sure Pitt, Baylor, or Georgetown shouldn’t all be #4 seeds).

    I believe the South bracket has the best teams overall, but the seeding is very good, so there may not be many upsets.

    IMO, the most underseeded teams in each bracket:
    East: Temple, Washington
    South: St. Mary’s
    West: Butler
    Midwest: N Iowa, Tennessee, San Diego St

    IMO, the most OVERseeded teams in each bracket (I’m excluding anything below a 12 seed):
    East: Marquette
    South: Notre Dame
    West: Florida, Minnesota (hard to call these overseeded at 10 & 11 but pretty consistent bracket overall)
    Midwest: Ohio State, Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma State

    One caveat….. Ohio State did play well in conference and at the end of the year, but I’m not sure that should translate into a #2 seed, regardless of injuries. The same can be said for Michigan State in an overall mediocre year for the Big 10. I’m also somewhat with the guy that thinks Purdue is better than a #4 seed.

    I agree with the guy lamenting the fact that Mississippi State should have made it in… at least over Minnesota. In the SEC tourney, the proved they belong by beating Vandy and Florida before barely losing to Kentucky. — Yet Vanderbilt still got overseeded, having split with Miss St, losing the tournament game.

    I’ve got a fun idea (that would never happen) for the NCAA tourney: Let the fans vote on two challenge games to take place midweek (Tuesday) after the selection committee is finished. Have a vote: The first vote would pick two teams that missed the field as fan favorites. The 2nd team would get to play (on the road) the last at-large team selected by the committee for a right to take their seed. The 1st team would get to play the 2nd to last at-large team selected (on the road) for a right to take their seed. This would gin up a ton of fan interest and get fans more involved in the process. It would also make sure that two teams that maybe should have made the tourney still get a chance when the committee misses.

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  19. David Mihm Says:

    Brian, somewhat along the lines of your “fan favorite” idea, I’ve long thought that IF the Tournament expanded, it should go to 68. Eliminate the current play-in game, and have the 8 teams “on the bubble” play-in for the #12 line on the Tuesday before.

    In general, I would be in favor of shrinking the field back to 64 by taking an at-large bid away, however.

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  20. Brian Says:

    What i’m trying to figure out.. is does the committee have a “Providence” bias? I mean.. I’m in Texas but I would love to see the games played there:

    Richmond vs St Mary’s
    Richmond/St mary’s vs Villanova (I count out Rober Morris completely)

    Tennesee vs San Diego State
    Tenn/San Diego State vs Georgetown (again, I count out Ohio)

    What location has a better slate of games?
    New Orleans, Buffalo, Spokane? I don’t think so!

    Here is my personal list of 1st round games that are potential upsets :

    Tenn/SD State
    Oklahoma State/Ga Tech
    Gonzaga/Florida St*
    Marquette/Washington
    Cal/Louisville*
    Notre Dame/Old Dominion
    Richmond/St. Mary’s
    N Iowa/UNLV*
    Clemson/Missouri

    *I suppose I shouldn’t include #8 vs #9 games as those generally go without saying.

    There may be a few upsets that fall outside of the list, but I bet there aren’t many.

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  21. B. F. Says:

    Looks like we’ve got to get some firm rules to go by when seeding the brackets. The NCAA has proven again they unable or unwilling to follow their own guidelines. If you look at the seeding. Duke was the 1, Syracuse the 2, Kansas the 3, and Kentucky the 4. Doesn’t quite some right somehow.

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  22. Brian Says:

    I’m not the first to suggest this, but take the guesswork out of the tournament selection and seeding — use a computer (or computers) to generate the results. This can be tweaked year to year similar to the BCS in NCAA football. Then people can complain all they want, but it won’t be because of “subjectivity”. I’m not really a big fan of seeding teams based on how well you think they will do instead of actual performance. A computer could easily be fed a list of rules on how to rank and seed teams based on win/loss & home/away. Additional criteria could be added for conference winning percentages and conference comparisons.

    Another idea is to award tournament slots based strictly on the strength of each conference with the automatic bids for conference tournament winners still in place. Then, let the computer do the seeding for the chosen teams.

    Let’s take an example (with the math): Say this year the Big 10 was the 5th best conference (based on RPI of .5578, but could use another ranking system).. the top team RPI in the Big 10 is .6228. and the bottom is .4852. Let’s assume the the bottom RPI of an tournament team is .57 RPI. The 50 percentile mark could be assumed to be .5578 and the 100 percentile mark assumed to be .6228. So, we can estimate the percentage of teams that fall above .57 RPI. (.57-.5578)/(.6228-.5578) = 18.77%, translated to 1.1877*50% = 59.4% of the teams do not belong in the NCAAs so that translates to 40.6% * 11 = 4 teams.

    So, here is how the conferences fare with this method in number of tournament teams assuming .57 base RPI (including auto-bids)
    Big 12: 7 bids
    Big East: 9 bids
    ACC: 6 bids
    SEC: 5 bids
    Big 10: 4 bids
    Mountain West: 3 bids
    Atlantic 10: 5 bids
    Pac 10: 3 bids
    Missouri Valley: 3 bids
    WAC: 2 bids
    CUSA: 2 bids
    Colonial: 2 bids
    West Coast: 2 bids

    Now, there are still 18 additional conferences with automatic bids, so that would put us at at least 71 teams. However, .57 was somewhat pulled out of a hat, so this can be adjusted up to perhaps .58 or s to squeeze out some more bids. Using .5752 is just enough to squeeze the Big East down to 8 seeds, but doesn’t affect most other major conferences. Obviously, conferences with no teams rated higher than the target RPI will get no at-large bids. On request, I will find the exact RPI mean and do the calculations. There should probably be some tweaks to the math so that conferences with a single excellent team (like Butler) don’t get an extra NCAA tournament bid. The solution is to require that the conference champ must have a loss in conference to count as the top RPI for the conference, otherwise the next highest team counts as top RPI in conference.
    Anyway, I believe I’ve demonstrated that it is possible to fairly reliably approximate how many bids each conference should get based solely on the RPI numbers already evaluated by the committee. I would love for each conference to choose their best teams to send to the tourney to fill the appointed slots rather than have a national committee do it.

    I also believe a computer should do the seeding after the field is already decided and all regular season games are complete. Reward the top 4 RPI-rated conferences by giving each conference champion a #1 seed (conference has the option whether to use the regular season or tournament champ). I believe initial seedings should be based only on games between tournament teams using a computer system similar to the colley matrix rankings. After initial seeding, the computer could have rules for where each team plays, calculating the best location for the most likely scenarios that would minimize the distance each team has to travel, favoring higher seeded teams.

    Yeah.. this is an elaborate and far-fetched idea, but we got the BCS, didn’t we?
    It would take the guess work out of determining actual teams to make the field as it could be projected and calculated all season long with absolutely no bias whatsoever. If I was a coach, I would love this, because towards the end of the season, I could similate exactly what needed to happen for my team to make the postseason.

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  23. Bryan Register Says:

    It is an outrage that the NCAA selection committee gets away with snubbing a MS State team that won 23 games, won the SEC West, beat FL and Vandy, took Kentucky to OT twice and lost (with questionable officiating). The only rationale has to be financial, with the committee feeling that other teams would be a better draw for CBS financially.

    I read where ESPN’s head basketball analyst Jay Bilas says there’s nothing for bubble teams to complain about, and that the message is clear to teams on the bubble: “If you want to get in next year, schedule tougher non-conference opponents.” Well, you tool, MS State beat Depaul, Old Dominion, and UCLA in non-conference play, and lost by 1 point to a damn good Richmond team. But, it turns out that traditionally tough Depaul and UCLA had lousy RPIs this year, so that didn’t help.

    Then this corrupt committee puts in the CAL Bears and ND (2 committee members were alumni of those schools. And bumped FL ahead of MSU. These guys should be castrated. Then the seeding and the bracket selections for the teams that did make it are the worst ever. This method of selection is broken and needs to be fixed. Just let the mafia take over the whole thing; it has lost it’s integrity. I have lost all faith in the process. GTHNCAA!

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  24. Henry Muto Says:

    I did pretty good got 64/65 missing Virginia Tech vs Florida. But I did really well on the seeds I got 58/64 within 1 seed line. My misses I had Temple as a 3, Florida State as a 7, Marquette and Notre Dame as 8′s, San Diego State as 9 and UNLV as a 10. So I am basically saying the same thing you were David. Temple, Marq, ND, SD State and UNLV should have all been seeded better and I think my seedings were more true then the committee’s on what those teams did. How can SDST be below UNLV ? Also I had Villanova as a 3 and I had West Virginia as the highest #2 and Ohio State the 2nd highest #2 but they put them as the 3rd/4th #’2s.

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