BY JOHN ROHDE
March 12, 2017
As a point of reference, here is the NCAA Tournament selection committee’s official seeding list No. 1 through No. 68 for this year’s field:
Top 10 mistakes made by this year’s tournament selection committee:
10. Syracuse deserved a bid … Nah, just kidding. The top team to not get an at-large bid was Illinois State (27-6), which was No. 69 in the committee’s overall seeding for the 68-team tournament. However, the Redbirds’ RPI ranking of No. 33 was higher than 15 teams that received at-large bids.
9. Vanderbilt became the first team ever with 15 losses to get an at-large bid. Not only that, the Commodores are a No. 9 seed and face No. 8 seed Northwestern, which is making its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchups are supposed to be intriguing. Maybe this one should be decided by SAT scores.
8. Michigan State had 14 losses, was seeded No. 40 overall, which equates to the final No. 10 seed, yet the Spartans somehow were given a No. 9 seed in the Midwest Regional. Not good news for No. 1-seeded Kansas.
7. Middle Tennessee State, where former Oklahoma State guard and Oklahoma City University coach Win Case serves as an assistant to head coach Kermit Davis, deserved an at-large bid rather than an automatic berth at No. 12. No harm done, however. At least we now know which team to pick in the obligatory No. 5 vs. No. 12 upset special when the Blue Raiders face Minnesota in the South Regional. In fact, every 5 vs. 12 matchup potentially could be upsetting. Ranking the other three in terms of likelihood: UNC-Wilmington over Virginia in the East; Princeton over Notre Dame in the West; Nevada over Iowa State in the Midwest.
6. Speaking of OSU, the Cowboys deserved better than a No. 10 seed. Yes, they’ve lost three straight, but they were against Iowa State (twice) and Kansas. OSU was ranked No. 35 overall by the committee, which equates to the third No. 9 seed. So what happened?
5. Making matters worse, the Cowboys’ opponent also deserved a higher seed. Michigan has won five straight, seven of its last eight, claimed the Big Ten Tournament title on Sunday and was given a No. 7 seed. The Wolverines were seeded No. 24 overall, which equates to the final No. 6 seed. So, again, what happened?
4. How does Wichita State, a team ranked No. 8 in KenPom.com and No. 11 in the Sagarin Ratings possibly end up as a No. 10 seed for the tournament and the No. 38 committee seed overall? It doesn’t, that’s how. Talk about a Shocker. The committee got this one wrong by at least two lines, maybe three.
3. The committee got the top eight seeds right, but they were the wrong order. The committee’s top eight: 1. Villanova; 2. Kansas; 3. North Carolina; 4. Gonzaga; 5. Kentucky; 6. Arizona; 7. Duke; 8. Louisville. The order should have been: 1. Villanova; 2. Kansas; 3. North Carolina; 4. Duke; 5. Gonzaga; 6. Arizona; 7. Kentucky; 8. Louisville.
2. Gonzaga is the bottom No. 1 seed and Kentucky is the top No. 2 seed, so why weren’t they placed in the same regional? That’s how the S-curve works. The No. 1 overall seed vs. the No. 8 overall seed in a potential regional final; No. 2 vs. No. 7; No. 3 vs. No. 6; No. 4 vs. No. 5. Pretty straight forward. Sure, there’s the possibility of a regular-season or conference rematch in the Elite Eight, but it adds to the pressure.
Based on the committee’s seed list, there should have been potential regional finals of Villanova vs. Louisville (no regular-season repeat); Kansas vs. Duke (KU won 77-75 with 1.8 seconds left in a mid-November meeting at NYC); North Carolina vs. Arizona (no repeat); and Gonzaga vs. Kentucky (no repeat). Because the committee ignored the S-curve, the South Regional is now incredibly top-heavy with North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA and Butler, which beat No. 1 Villanova twice this season.
1. Iowa State is the No. 5 seed in the Midwest Regional with a chance to return to the Sprint Center, where it just won the Big 12 Conference Tournament. A No. 5 seed hasn’t earned the right to play so close to home (229 miles) for a chance to go to the Final Four. This scenario could have easily been avoided by placing ISU in either the South or East regional, preventing the Big 12 regular-season champs and conference tournament champs from potentially meeting in the Sweet 16. As a No. 1 seed, Kansas earned the right to play at the Sprint Center. No way does a No. 5 seed warrant the same treatment.
Ranking the regionals (toughest to easiest): 1. South, 2. East, 3. West, 4. Midwest.
Regional Finals: Duke over Villanova (East); Arizona over West Virginia (West); Kansas over Michigan (Midwest); North Carolina over UCLA (South).
National championship: Arizona over North Carolina.