By Brad Thompson–
Sure the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee left out teams like Colorado, Virginia Tech and St. Mary’s, but what’s more troublesome was how poorly the committee seeded teams.
The snubbed teams deserve better, but it’s important to keep things in perspective – we are talking about the 67th and 68th best teams in the country – schools that don’t have much of an impact on the Final Four. On the other hand, improper seeding of teams like Florida, Utah State and Texas could affect the late rounds of the tournament.
Florida was the biggest winner on Selection Sunday even after Kentucky shellacked them by 16 in the SEC championship game. How the Gators ended up as a No. 2 seed in the Southeast bracket, which is arguably the weakest bracket, is mind-boggling. Florida is ranked fifteenth in the AP Top 25 this week. In other ratings, which are more computer-based, Florida is even lower – No. 19 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and eighteenth in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings.
Utah State has the opposite argument as Florida. The Aggies are ranked nineteenth in the AP poll, two spots ahead of Kansas State, who they face in the first round, yet somehow ended up with a No. 12 seed. What’s even more surprising is that Utah State’s Director of Athletics, Scott Barnes, is one of the 10 members on the selection committee. Utah State won its last eight games, including its conference tournament and still ended up grossly underseeded. I realize that Utah State is a mid-major and didn’t play an extremely tough schedule, but a No. 12 seed is ridiculous.
Another team shafted by the committee was Texas. The Longhorns are eighth in the AP Top 25, yet received a No. 4 seed. Pomeroy’s rating has Texas ranked fourth, while Sagarin’s ratings has them at No. 7. None of this adds up to a No. 4 seed.
As I look at the seeding, I am repeatedly shocked by how inaccurately the teams are seeded. Take UCLA, for example, the Bruins are a No. 7 seed. UCLA received the exact same amount of votes as Colorado did in the AP Top 25 and No. 12 seed Richmond received more than 15 times the amount of votes as UCLA. Someone please tell me how a No. 7 seed for UCLA is justifiable?
Not one of the four Big Ten teams (Illinois, Michigan, MSU and PSU) that were considered bubble teams received even a single vote in the AP Top 25, yet all four of them were seeded ahead of eight teams that were either ranked or received AP votes (Utah State, Richmond, Gonzaga, Missouri, Memphis, Belmont, Clemson and Marquette). This isn’t too much of a surprise considering Ohio State’s Athletic Director Gene Smith was the chairman of the committee, but it doesn’t make it right.
I am astonished by how the committee seeded teams for this tournament. Preventing Colorado and Virginia Tech was a grave injustice, but seeding as asinine as this presents a significant problem because it might affect who wins the tournament. Colorado and Virginia Tech weren’t going to win it all, but Florida might make it to the Final Four now, with such a high seed. Texas, who is considered by many a title contender, definitely faces an uphill battle as a No. 4 seed.
I realize that rankings, seeding and determining tournament bids is an inexact science. I’ve based my argument on the AP Top 25 rankings, Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and Jeff Sagarin’s ratings and maybe these aren’t as important as I think. It just goes to show that college basketball needs to come up with a standard set of criteria that everyone can follow. Until then, we are left with selection committees that determine seeding based on unknown factors, leaving teams and fans scratching their heads and thinking, “This makes no sense.”
Do you agree with Brad? Post your comments below.
Brad M. Thompson, a former college football player and coach, made his return to the Midwest in 2009 after fighting wildfires out West. He earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and covers the Big Ten Conference and Chicago sports. Follow him on Twitter at @Brad_M_Thompson. Find more of Brad’s blogs here.