Strangest Bracket Ever?
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by David Mihm
A number of inconsistencies stand out about this year's bracket:
1) Air Force. The Falcons have no business being included among the best 34 at-large teams. A poor nonconference schedule, lacking a regular season title, a quick exit from their conference tournament, and no Top 50 RPI wins. Having watched them, I know that Utah State is a good team, and I can understand their inclusion on a subjective level. Objectively, though, their resume doesn't look all that good.
2) Overseeding of the Pac-10 teams. UCLA and Washington got the seeds they deserved, but I have a serious question with UCLA's placement in Oakland. By placing them in Oakland, the Committee implies that UCLA is the #5 overall seed...questionable to say the least. Cal at a 7 is the most overseeded team in recent history. Arizona as an 8 is understandable, but the 'Cats resume is pretty weak, and they clearly "earned" that seed because of their strong RPI...
3) ...but a strong RPI was not good enough for Missouri State, a team that finished T-2 in a conference ranked AHEAD of the Pac-10, and whose worst loss was at Arkansas. The Bears did everything they could in scheduling quality mid-major opponents, and defeating highly-ranked Wisconsin-Milwaukee on the road in a late-season game.
4) Sticking with The Valley, I can somewhat understand SIU's 11 seed, given their incredibly bad early-season losses, but Bradley a 13? A team with 7 Top 50 RPI wins? One of the hottest teams to end the year? The same seed as Pacific? Very poor form by Craig Littlepage & Co.
5) Including George Mason at the expense of Hofstra, despite the Pride's defeat of the Colonials twice in the last few games? Despite Tony Skinn's suspension? This isn't a huge beef.
6) Illinois. The team with the most top 25 RPI wins in the country before conference tournament play began ends up as the #15 team on the S-Curve? And gets sent to San Diego in a pod with three western teams? And has to play UConn in the Sweet 16, even if it runs the Western Gauntlet? Bizarre, to say the least.
7) Same can be said for BC. I had them as a four seed, but punishing them in a western pod against western teams is just not right.
8) Montana a 12? Winthrop a 15? Strange, though not unconscionable.
9) Ohio State the #8 team on the S-Curve? Apparently they weren't as close to that #1 line as Craig Littlepage let on.
10) Tennessee as a 2? A team that finished 2-4 in its last six games? Must have been the RPI, but then why was Pitt seeded as a 5, despite a better finish?
That's my top 10 list. Usually, I'm hard pressed to come up with even three or four bullet points...an indication of just how bizarre I found the Committee's choices.
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