The men’s NCAA tournament selection committee never has an easy job. But it’s a job that comes with warranted scrutiny.
There’s always strong debate about which teams make the field and which are left out, and this year’s biggest surprise was the committee putting Michigan clearly into the field of 68, while snubbing Texas A&M as the fourth team out.
Besides the omissions of bubble teams, the committee surely botched some seeding lines and matchups on this year’s bracket. There was a strong favoritism toward the Big Ten on the bubble line, whereas the Big 12 got way under-seeded.
The six biggest mistakes made by the committee – with three teams over-seeded and three teams under-seeded.
1. Michigan as a No. 11 seed. The Wolverines (17-14, 11-9 Big Ten) arguably didn’t deserve to be in the field of 68. At worst they should’ve been in the play-in game and swapped with Big Ten foe Indiana, who beat Michigan in the Big Ten tourney. The selection committee is wildly inconsistent with whether it values Quadrant 1 wins (Rutgers had six) or NET score (Michigan’s was in the 30s). Clearly, they were valuing the latter in this case.
2. Ohio State as a No. 7 seed. Clearly, the committee was drinking some Big Ten Kool-Aid, sending nine teams dancing and over-seeding big time. The Buckeyes (19-11, 12-8 Big Ten) finished poorly down the home stretch of the season – losing four of their last five to hurt their profile – and were more worthy of a No. 8 seed.
3. Creighton as a No. 9 seed. The Bluejays (22-11, 12-7 Big East) had a very pedestrian year and were on the bubble for most of it, but the committee clearly was influenced by their late surge in reaching the Big East tournament final. The program’s résumé was more worthy of a No. 10 or No. 11 seed. It was a generous seed considering their injury issues.
1. Iowa State as a No. 11 seed. The Cyclones (20-12, 7-11 Big 12) should have been a No. 8 seed or at worst a No. 9 seed. One of the committee’s most head-scratching seeds. For all the love the Big Ten got, what about the Big 12 – the country’s best-rated conference based on NET rankings? This team may have squandered late in the season but considering its overall body of work (wins over Texas Tech, Texas, Iowa and Creighton), something’s off if Iowa State is close to bubble territory.
3. TCU as a No. 9 seed. The Horned Frogs (20-12, 8-10 Big 12) had eight Quadrant 1 victories. Eight. Let that sit in. The committee gave them a No. 9 seed. TCU was worthy of a No. 6 or No. 7 seed. The Big 12 had two No. 1 seeds, one of which TCU beat, and the bottom of the bracket is going to give no love to the league? Doesn’t make much sense.
3. Texas A&M fourth team out of the field. Not only did the committee botch putting the Aggies (22-12, 9-9 SEC) in the field of 68, they also ranked Texas A&M as the fourth team on the outside looking in for “first four out.” What? Coach Buzz Williams’ squad had done enough in the last few weeks, including reaching the SEC final with wins over Auburn and Arkansas, to hear their name called on Selection Sunday. But it’s salt in the wound to not even be the first team out. That honor went to Dayton, a team that had three Quadrant 4 losses on its profile.
Data and insight compiled from USA TODAY Sports bracketologist Shelby Mast, who made 67 of 68 correct picks in this year’s NCAA Tournament bracket projection.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism