Full Reaction to the Bracket

by David Mihm | March 13th, 2011

Well, like many analysts, I was surprised by many of the seeding decisions by this year’s Selection Committee.  Unlike many analysts, though, I thought that the Committee did an admirable job seeding the top half of the field…which, given the track records of teams seeded below the 8-line at making the final four, should probably be the most important criterion by which the Committee is judged.

I’ll start with what I see as the positives of this bracket:

  • - I love that mid-majors like Butler, Old Dominion, and George Mason were rewarded with really nice seeds.  Their slightly more powerful A-10 brethren Xavier and Temple were also given plenty of respect.
  • - The Committee punished Virginia Tech once again for not winning any marquee out-of-conference games.
  • - Honestly, I have no problems with VCU getting a bid.  The Rams played a solid non-conference schedule, had 14 wins in a very good CAA *note, this includes the CAA Tournament, and won their Bracket Buster.  It’s who they lost to late in the season that might have kept them out.
  • - Duke did not get any favors from the Committee, despite being given a #1 seed.
  • - Really happy to see San Diego State get a de facto #1 out west.  Kudos to Steve Fisher et al for a great year.
  • - Georgia coach Mark Fox is not on suicide watch after his unfortunate timeout in the SEC Championship quarterfinal.
  • - The Big East teams were seeded and sorted more-or-less appropriately.  This was an extremely difficult task, I can assure you.
  • - Nice to see USC in the field.  The Committee surely took into account the fact that three of this team’s bad losses occurred without its #2 scorer, Jio Fontan, prior to becoming eligible to play as a transfer.

Now, onto the surprising, and in some cases WTF-type outcomes:

  • I’ve NEVER been more shocked about a team getting left OUT of the bracket than not to see Colorado’s name called.  I feel really bad for Tad Boyle and his team.  The Buffs beat a 5-seeded team THREE TIMES, in addition to a #4 and a #11 and were not rewarded.  The computer said their non conference strength of schedule was weak, but in actuality it wasn’t that bad…Harvard, Georgia, Colorado State, New Mexico, and Indiana (not supposed to be as bad as they were).
  • If Georgia gets a #10 seed, how does Alabama, which beat them twice in the last week, not get into the field?  To rely solely on RPI seems completely foolish.
  • Clemson and UAB both had a paltry number of Top-50 wins…as Jay Bilas pointed out, Harvard had a better resume than either of these teams (although I had Clemson in the projected field, they would not have gotten my vote in the Committee room).
  • A 12 for Utah State seems pretty harsh.
  • Not once, but twice, we have the opportunity to see Big East vs. Big East in the second round.  IN THE SECOND ROUND!  I know there are 11 teams to think about, but this is just lazy.
  • Shocked to see Richmond end up on the #12 line.  This can only mean they would not have been in the field had Dayton won the A-10 championship today.
  • Clearly no respect for the Big 12, with Texas getting a 4, Missouri an 11, and Colorado an NIT…but Kansas State as a 5?  How does that factor in?
  • The Big Ten bubble teams were dramatically overseeded.  Especially Michigan and Illinois on the 8-9 lines.

And finally, probably the most absurd comment I’ve ever heard a Selection Committee chair make in his post-bracket CBS interview…from Gene Smith…”We look at 15 criteria in evaluating teams…you know, things like who you played, where you played them…style of play…those kinds of things.”  Style of play.  Wow.  No wonder I was so far off with my projections this year…I must have overlooked that one in the Bracketing Principles and Procedures…

At any rate, I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below…but enjoy the games, everyone, it’s going to be a terrific Tournament as usual!

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28 Responses to “Full Reaction to the Bracket”  

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  1. Evan Says:

    I will agree that VCU and Clemson had good seasons, but I truly believe St Marys and Colorado were better (esp Colorado) and deserved much more recognition and love from the committee. 1/3 of the committee has basketball experience in some way. This year it showed with their picks and seedings.

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  2. Mary Babbitt Says:

    The ncaa selection committee to me is full of balogna. Most all of them are from the western U.S. or midwestern or north east states. They have a a preference for teams from those areas.

    Omitting VA TECH from the tournament was stupid and discusting!!!. I hope all of their favored teams lose big and I hope next year there will be a much better selection committee. GO HOKIES, I am sorry you had to suffer at the hands of such dumb and prejudice people.

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  3. John Says:

    @ David:

    I’m glad you brought up two things I was thinking about. The first being Harvard. When they lost that game at the buzzer, I was crushed. They clearly have more talent, and were a better team than Princeton, but lost on an unfortunate shot(Davis travelled before he hit the GW shot. You could also argue that he didn’t get it off in time). They did everything the commitee asks of a team like them. They challenged themselves in the non-conference, and beat Boston College and Colorado, but because neither of those teams made the field, those wins weren’t as important as they should have/could have been. They split with Princeton, and lost the Playoff Game on a buzzer beater. Isn’t that what we always hear for the mid-to-low major? Get to your conference final, and lose a close game, or at the buzzer. That’s exactly what Harvard did. I think the committee gave them a really long and hard look, but unfortunately, the powers like Michigan State and Tennessee, with 14 losses, and a sputtering Villanova team got in over the Crimson. It would have been a neat story to see Tommy Amaker’s team in, since they have been waiting so long. What tops it off is that those kids are all seniors, so this was this their only shot at the Tournament.

    I agree about Colorado. I think they definitely deserved a bid. I don’t have a problem with any of the other bubble teams left out(although Virginia Tech was closer this year than they have been in recent years). I would have taken out Marquette, which brings me to another point………..

    I completely agree that Big East teams matching up in the Second Round is quite strange. It’s like the committee is breaking their own rule about teams from the same conference before at least the Sweet 16.

    We have 3 rematches in the Second Round. Louisville-Morehead State from 2009 1st Round. Temple-Penn State from 2001 in the Sweet 16, the Nittany Lions last NCAA appearance, and Butler-Old Dominion from 2007 1st Round.

    If you had to pick a team seeded 13 or lower, what team would you pick?

    Everybody seems to be on Belmont and Oakland winning a game this year. As is above, if you had to pick one of the two, who has a better chance of pulling off the upset?

    Who do you think wins the First Four games?

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  4. JTD Says:

    How did Florida get a 2 over BYU? And Louisville should have been a 3 over Cuse or Purdue.. They had one bad early season loss.. And their Big East tournament play was very fun to watch. And more complaints.. Michigan St and Penn St in over other much more deserving teams… Kind of disappionted with the selection and seeding this year.

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  5. Cliff Says:

    The NCAA has a complete and utter failure, yet once again…

    How is Florida a #2 seed and Kentucky a #4? If they claim the brackets were finished prior to the ending of the SEC, then the committee should be disbanded on the spot. If it was not, and the tournament results were factored in in to the equation…then the committee should be disbanded on the spot!

    Just plain and simple stupidity on part of the NCAA selection committee. I would love to hear the explanation of Florda-Kentucky.

    I thought in recent years the committee looked at, in addition, the trends (last 10 games) so, beating a team twice in two weeks, and “blowing them out” by 16 points with a couple of players who were not even 100% isn’t worth noting? But you are going to actually tell millions of people you have criteria such as “style of play”? Seriously?

    System failure at its best. The NCAA is the ICON of the word BROKE.

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  6. John Says:

    JTD, I agree about Michigan State. They got in because of their name. Penn State getting in is similar to what Minnesota did, as far as getting in by getting into the Big Ten final. It shows you that this was the wrong year to expand. This is the worst bubble ever, so there unfortunately has to be a couple of 14 loss teams in the field. I disagree with you about Florida/BYU. The Cougars are not the same team without Brandon Davies. I am a diehard Gators fan, but was surprised that they got a 2 seed. However, if you want to say that BYU deserves a 2 seed over Florida, that is wrong.

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  7. Hokie Hi Says:

    “Punished” is a good word for the Hokies and their fans. With some teams (see Michigan State, Illinois) the committee looks for reasons to put them IN. With VT, the committee only looks for reasons to leave them OUT. Every year it’s something different, but the top half of the ACC is no weaker or stronger than it’s been for 10 years now, and VT is consistently there…if Maryland, Wake, or GT had the same credentials, they would be a 10-11 seed at worst.

    If VT plays and beats Richmond by 15, as they did a few years ago, they get no credit…an ACC team is SUPPOSED to beat a CAA team. If they play them and lose, it’s a “bad” loss. So it’s a no-win for VT, no use scheduling them. Somebody on the committee has it in for VT or Greenberg (is Bill Brill still bending somebody’s ear?) and it’s making the BCS look like a better system all the time!

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  8. Saul Says:

    The committe needs a member from conference USA so tey don’t get shafted. Conference USA is underrated. And what were they thinking leaving Colorado out. The Big 12 definitely got direspected this year.

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  9. David Mihm Says:

    Saul, the Committee does have a CUSA member. Steve Orsini of SMU. And I think you might be the only person in the country who thinks CUSA got shafted, given the outcry over UAB’s inclusion.

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  10. Jan Moyle Says:

    Shame, on all of you. Most of the country is disgusted by your snub of Colorado. ESPN was outraged and so am I.

    Please quit and let us get some replacements that have actually coached college basketball and can be fair and objective! Do this, and you may not have this shame hanging over your heads next year. ESPN was right … We need a Commissioner for college basketball so that this will never happen again to a deserving team.

    Shame, shame, shame!

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  11. Brett Schulte Says:

    Michigan was definitely overseeded, but Illinois was not, at least if you value margin of victory. Illinois blew a lot of games very late which would have given them a much better record, the Missouri game included, in which they were up 1 with 3:21 to play, and the Texas game, where they lost in overtime. Look at their ranking on computer models which value margin of victory such as KenPom.com (top 20) and Sagarin (#17 predictor).

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  12. William Thompson Says:

    I have a hard time understanding why the committee left off Virginia Tech. They only took 4 teams from the ACC. Why Clemson & not VT? Why 7 teams from the Big 10 – VT beat Penn State at Pen State. VT has a win over the #1 team Duke who alsois a #1 seed in this tournament. Why Tenn , Ga – 7 teams from the SEC – The ACC gets no credit – The colonial 3 teams – VCU was 4th place in there conference & only has 1 big win UCLA? Look at UAB schedule & record against VT & it’s a joke? The NCAA needs to make a change? Looks BAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  13. Quintin Says:

    Big 12 got the screw job… KSU is a #5 seed who gets stuck playing against the most underrated team in the field with Utah State who is 30-3 and they get reamed with a #12 seed.

    TEXAS who everyone in the nation had as a #2 seed less than a week ago gets slapped all the way down to a four seed for losing to KU (in Kansas City.) While UF and UNC both stay at #2 seeds after blowing their championship games (Florida’s was obviously a worse loss than UNC)

    And i’m gonna beat the Colorado point more by pointing out that 5 teams combined from the Big 10 and Big East got in with worse records and fewer wins versus the Top 50… (Tenn, Mich, Mich St, Marq, and WV) Everyone talks about how they got screwed by UAB Clemson VCU etc, but they should’ve been in long before those teams where even considered…

    In short this selection committee just blew!

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    You should all be shamed of yourselves. To leave out 2 deserving teams as Virginia Tech & Colorado is a disgrace. You guys have made the NCAA look very political, not to mention down right ridiculous. I and everyone I know are not participating in any NCAA activities!! Mr Eugene Smith I am sorry to see you be used in such a way!! Get out now before it’s too late.

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  15. Jeff Says:

    On Kentucky being a 4 seed? They beat Florida a 2 seed, 2 out of 3 times. They lost in Gainesville by 2,won in Lex by 8 and drilled the Gators on a neutral floor by 16! Kentucky wiped the floor with ND a two seed in Louisville by 14 points and only lost to NC by 2 on the road and of course they also are a 2 seed. Kentucky has a RPI of 7 and a strength of schedule of 7. UK is in the the top 10 in the final poll. So someone tell me how are the BIG BLUE a 4 seed ???????????

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  16. John Says:

    I see a lot of you are upset that Virginia Tech did not get in, but before you go too crazy about the Hokies getting left out, let’s compare them to another bubble team that only started to get consideration after mid-Saturday.

    Virginia Tech Mystery Team
    RPI 62 35
    Overall Record 21-11 23-6
    Road Record 4-6 9-5

    In addition to those numbers, our mystery team beat Colorado, who we all agree should be in the field. They also beat Boston College. Who is this mystery team? None other than……………Harvard. That’s right, Harvard. The Crimson not only pass the numbers test, they pass the eye test. Anyone who saw that game against Princeton knows they are an NCAA Tournament team, but their candidacy for an at-large spot was hurt by the fact that they only were considered for just about a day, due to whether or not they won the game against Princeton. Of course, because they are a mid-major, and Tommy Amaker doesn’t scream like Seth Greenberg, no one mentions them. Only David, Jay Bilas, and Doug Gottlieb even considered them in mock brackets or discussions about at-large teams. We all agree that Colorado was team No. 69, whether the committee thought so, or not. It should be just as unanimous that Harvard is team No. 70, ahead of Virginia Tech.

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  17. Cliff Says:

    I am still finding it hard to believe that the NCAA selection committee gave Florida a #2 seed. The funny thing is…Ole Gene said “You can’t get enamored too much” with the conference tournaments…but then said they waited till “after the tournament championships were played” to make final selections. Mind you, the Gators lost to Central Florida and Jacksonville, as well as to South Carolina I think at home…lost to Kentucky 2 times in two weeks and the latter being a complete blowout in which 2 of the 6 players were not 100%…6 (meaning the CATS only play 6 people with significant minutes)

    Each time the NCAA or one of its representatives speaks…it is a complete failure.

    Perhaps a thorough investigation should be launched concerning the broken practices from within this broken institution.

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  18. Jeff Says:

    Another thing that I forgot to mention is UK has won 9 of its last 11 games and the SEC tourney champion. If it means nothing to be the tourney champ except the auto invite to the dance, play the games a day early so they finish on Saturday then the boys can take a look at the SEC tourney champ and maybe it will mean something in the seeding?

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  19. terry Says:

    how does florida get a 2 seed?ranked=15th,last game lost by 16=had lost to mississippi st, south carolina, jacksonville, ucf,also 2 times to kentucky and ohio st.did not have a win from any team above the rank of 19.finial ranking.

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  20. John Says:

    Instead of worrying about minor things, like Kentucky’s seed, you should be focused on how Harvard got jobbed.

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  21. Kenneth Says:

    I now know why the NCAA men’s basketball playoff is called “March Madness.” It’s absolutely ludicrous and perhaps somewhat laughable at some of the teams who made the bracket, while others were left out.

    C’mon – VCU and UAB?? And what about the disproportionate number of teams from little known, weak conferences? And how can you explain Tennessee’s selection, with a 19-14 record? Virginia Tech was definitely snubbed and there’s no rational explanation!! Does someone on the committee have a vendetta against the Hokies? They beat the formerly no. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils once and Florida State twice – Duke deservedly made the tournament, as did Florida State – but Virginia Tech was left out. Other team fans are, rightfully so, protesting about their team being snubbed as well. This is the worst bracketing job I’ve ever witnessed!!

    When TV sports analysts, including Dick Vitale, and the newspapers pick up on this snub and are very boisterous in their opinion about Virginia Tech’s snub, then some committee members must step down and let more qualified personnel conduct the selection process.

    Kenneth H.

    Virginia Tech Class of 1978

    College of Science

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  22. Perry Rogers Says:

    Kentucky #4 and Florida #2. Honestly, I just need one legitimate explanation for this.
    The committee should be held accountable and should be required to provide an explanation for each and every decision.
    There obviously is one bad egg if not two on the committee.
    This is prejudice, absurd and unacceptable.

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  23. Justin Says:

    I wish Harvard had gotten in, but I never expected them to. However, getting a 6 seed in the NIT is just plain insulting. A 6 seed? They only lost 6 times all year! I don’t care that they play in the Ivy. They played as good of an out-of-conference schedule as they could have with their lack of prestige and beat Colorado (who by the way has absolutely no business being in the NIT).

    It seems every year that all the analysts always think the same teams are in and out at the end of the year. But the committee never goes along with those. Why? It creates unpredictability. They don’t want anyone to know who’s going to be in the tournament before they pick, they just want the selection itself to get publicity.

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  24. sanitycheck2 Says:

    This is simple: the NCAA created a COMMITTEE and chartered them to APPOINT teams to a basketball tournament, and is should be added the committee operated with a reckless disregard for merit, objectivity and fairness. The NCAA established it’s mandate when they appointed the committee: 10 Athletic Directors and Commissioners all administrators with literally no expertise or understanding of the game of college basketball. Sorry, playing college basketball before the civil rights amendment or playing minor league basketball in Germany pales to insignificance when the greatest names in this game were shunned. Ron Wellman the AD at Wake Forest? A baselball player? The NCAA couldn’t find anyone better than Ron? Ron’s biggest chore at Wake is finding tournament tickets for alumini who’s choice of seats improves with their conributions to the Wake Forest.
    This was a trainwreck: The selection committee has no written guidelines, there is no appeal process, the selection committee is devoid of ex-players, coaches and others with an understanding of the game. The results are exactly what 10 Administrators nearly all with administration or accounting degrees could be relied on to produce. Read this fast cause I expect this will be off this board within minutes.

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  25. David Mihm Says:


    Nope, it’s definitely going to stay up ‘on the Board’. This site is not affiliated with the NCAA in any way, and so long as no one uses profane or abusive language, all comments stay up.

    I happen to agree with you that a little more transparency in the selection process of the Selection Committee would be beneficial for the game.

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  26. Roger Quick Says:

    The selection committee did a great job as evidenced by the Big East selections (2 of 11 in the sweet sixteen) and the ACC (3 out of 4 in the sweet sixteen).

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  27. Alex Says:

    This year’s selection process was crap. Ohio State the number one overall seed by far had the hardest bracket. There is no reason to put Kentucky at a four seed when they beat Florida (sorry dismantled them) in the SEC championship game. Ohio state should have never played a team of that cailber that early in the tournament. You completley took away all the hard work that the Bucks did.

    Anybody could have picked a better bracket than this one.

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  28. Kenneth Ramsey Says:

    Are there any plans in the future to add or replace committee members with people that have experience of playing or coaching in NCAA tournaments.

    Do referees ever look at game films to improve their calls in close games?

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