SportsPulse: The madness is finally here. USA TODAY’s Trysta Krick breaks down everything you need to know about this year’s tournament.
The NCAA tournament selection committee doesn’t have an easy job. But considering the euphoria of playing in March Madness and how critical matchups are for advancing to the second weekend, well, the cast of decision-makers isn’t getting off the hook that easy.
Here’s a look at five things the selection committee got wrong.
Cincinnati, the AAC tourney winner, should’ve been a No. 5 or No. 6 seed. The committee gave the Bearcats (28-6) a No. 7 seed in the South Region. While it’s rather generous that they’ll be playing in nearby Columbus, this seed makes us wonder if the committee even watched the American Athletic Conference tournament championship that ended right before the selection show. Cincinnati beat a really good Houston team in the final and had a much better profile to be in the range of a No. 6 seed or even No. 5 seed. It could be a blessing in disguise because of the location and how dangerous the No. 11 and No. 12 seeds are in this bracket.
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Snubbing UNC-Greensboro for St. John’s: The Spartans (28-6, 15-3 Southern) were undoubtedly worthy of making the field of 68 given their overall profile in which they only lost to Quadrant 1 (top-30 home, top-75 away) opponents. And if Belmont is getting in with five losses and the same amount of Quad 1 wins (2) then UNC-Greensboro should’ve been considered. Look at the Red Storm (21-12, 8-10 Big East) from a blind résumé standpoint. They had a worse NET score of 73, a worse non-conference strength of schedule of 216 and lost five Quad 2 or Quad 3 games compared to UNC-Greensboro’s zero. The committee shouldn’t have just given one really good mid-major love, it should’ve given it to two.
Florida State, not Purdue or LSU, should’ve been a No. 3 seed. The Seminoles (27-7) have been overlooked all season, having been the fourth wheel to the ACC’s three No. 1 seeds — Duke, Virginia and North Carolina. Did the committee see that UVA game? Apparently not. FSU had a top-16 NET score, a top-15 strength of schedule and eight Quad 1 wins. Comparatively, while Purdue and LSU have slightly better NET scores, Purdue lost two more games and LSU isn’t the same team with coach Will Wade suspended for his alleged involvement in an NCAA violation. If the committee was looking at the teams that were entering the tournament, credentials aside, FSU should’ve moved up.
Seton Hall (20-13) was way underseeded as a No. 10 seed. The Pirates should’ve been a No. 8 seed, having played their way well off the bubble line and looking close to the best team in the Big East in the conference tournament, beating Marquette and falling to Villanova in the final. As a whole, Seton Hall had seven Quad 1 wins and a top-25 strength of schedule. What was the committee looking at?
Syracuse (20-13) was way overseeded as a No. 8 seed. The Orange (20-13) could’ve swapped seeds with Seton Hall. For a team that played in the ACC, ‘Cuse only got three Quad 1 wins and also lost two Quad 3 games. Was this team’s top-45 NET score weighed too heavily? Most definitely. And was a regular-season win over top overall seed Duke treated like the golden ticket to move up two seeds? Seems so.
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Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.