Full Reaction to the Bracket
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!