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2017 NCAA Tournament: Major Bias, underseeding Mid-Majors

2017 NCAA Tournament: Major Bias, underseeding Mid-Majors

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

Every season it happens, a handful of teams in the major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12) get bias toward their NCAA Tournament seed.

As a result it punishes the mid-major teams that everyone loves to root for.

Now, mid-majors should not receive preferential treatment because it would be ‘more fun.' After all, the committee would just ensure all the teams from North Carolina, Florida, and California were all in the same side of the bracket.

(That would actually be pretty fun.)

But the 2016-2017 season proves once again that in order for a mid-major to earn a favor NCAA Tournament seed, they better be able to walk on water.

A near-record number of top seeds from conference tournaments won automatic qualifiers, meaning many of the mid-and low-major teams with the best records earned a spot in the Big Dance. Place that next to the fact that this was a historically weak bubble, and the 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket should have shaped up nicely for "The Other 26."

But instead, the mid-majors got regulated to some poor seeding, and to make matters worse some of the best mid-majors will be taking each other out in the first round. It is not until one takes a look at the overall seeding when disparity becomes glaringly obvious.

It almost feels that because Gonzaga was selected to a No. 1 seed, that the committee had done a service to mid-majors.

This is where the committee should shift teams so mid-majors actually compete against the bigger teams. A majority of the mid-major champions and their at-larges could take out the first-four at-larges (all of which were from a major conference).

If the smaller teams lose, then oh well.

RELATED: PRINTABLE NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Looking at the overall seeding here is where each mid-major team fell:

No. 1 Gonzaga (No. 4 overall)

-One of the biggest questions of the weekend was if the Zags were going to actually earn one of the four No. 1 seeds. By what should be no surprise, Mark Few’s team earned that bid due to the plethora of upsets in the conference tournaments. Thankfully Kentucky, Duke, and Arizona, who all won a major conference tournament, did not jump the Zags. In which, Gonzaga has the argument to be ahead of each.

No. 6 SMU (No. 21 overall)

-A somewhat appropriate seed. Simply the Mustangs record from last season, (25-5) and not being eligible for the NCAA postseason, had to be a prevailing factor in how high they climbed. Outside of conference play, their biggest win was over TCU. Above the Mustangs they had the Big 12 champion, Iowa State and the ACC runner-up Notre Dame which is a problem in itself, but near impossible to pass. Ahead of two teams though, the Mustangs have an argument to be higher.

No. 6 Cincinnati (No. 22 overall)

-As a preseason favorite to compete nationally, the Bearcats slipped to a No. 6 seed. Once again this is an appropriate seed; their AAC Championship loss to SMU is what dropped them below the Mustangs and even from a No. 5 seed. This is the one mid-major at-large slot that should not be changed.

No.7 St. Mary’s (No. 25 overall)

-Three of the Gaels four losses were to the fourth best team in the tournament. If the Zags fell to a No. 2 seed then this is appropriate, but the committee rewarded the Zags and not the Gaels. Easily Saint Mary’s, led by one of the best in the NCAA Jock Landale, should be above Creighton and at the very least Maryland. Oh they play another dangerous mid-major, VCU.

No. 7 Dayton (No. 28 overall)

-Dayton is another squad that should be above the Blue Jays and the Terps, but also South Carolina. Here is another case where the committee placed a champion ahead of Dayton, which was Michigan, so that they could not climb up. No. 7 seed is not that bad but it is facing Wichita State that is an outrage.

No. 10 Wichita State (No. 38 overall)

-How the heck did the Shockers fall to a No. 10 seed? This is dumb and where some seeding starts to fall apart. Wichita State is ranked 20th nationally and 22nd in the coaches poll, not only that they won their conference in championship week. Talk about names carrying teams, Wichita State’s name did not carry them anywhere this season. On top of that, they face No. 2 Kentucky in the next round if they were to win. The Shockers could easily be a Sweet 16 team if they were not playing the No.5 overall seed.

No. 10 VCU (No. 39 overall)

-Appropriate seed, but why not have them face other No. 7 seeds, South Carolina or Michigan? Would not be an issue if they did not do this multiple times.

No. 11 Rhode Island (No. 44 overall)

-Appropriate seed, although it makes no sense to have Xavier higher than them. Providence and Wake Forest are ahead of the Atlantic 10 Champions but are in a play-in game, something Rhode Island avoided with their auto-bid.

No. 12 Nevada (No. 47 overall)

-Fair seed.

RELATED: WHAT THE COMMITTEE GOT RIGHT, WHAT THEY GOT WRONG

No. 12 Middle Tennessee State (No. 48 overall)

-Did the committee even watch Middle Tennessee this season? No one in their right mind would have them this low, a No. 10 seed at the lowest. The Blue Raiders are way better than many teams ahead of them but got a favorable First Round matchup with Minnesota. Their early season loss to Tennessee State greatly hurt them, but no other early bad losses by major teams hurt their respective teams.

No. 12 UNC-Wilmington (No. 49 overall)

-Fair seed and a fun team to watch.

No. 12 Princeton (No. 50 overall)

-Second longest active winning streak in college basketball (19 games) and they are only a No. 12 seed? It’s fair. Tigers did not do any work outside of conference play this year and 16 of their 19 wins in a row are against Ivy League schools.

No. 13 Bucknell (No. 51 overall)

-Fair seed.

No. 13 East Tennessee St. (No. 52 overall)

-Fair seed.

No. 13 Vermont (No. 53 overall)

-Fair seed, but maybe bump them up a spot or two becuase of their impressive record.

No. 13 Winthrop (No. 54 overall)

-Fair seed.

No. 14 New Mexico State (No. 55 overall)

-Fair seed.

No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast (No. 56 overall)

-Fair seed, but playing in-state opponent Florida State come on now. Do not expect ‘Dunk City’ to pull out another fairy tale run, but the darlings of the NCAA a couple seasons ago should have at least played a non-Florida team in the first round.

The remaining seeds are all from non-major conferences, due to their records and how they won a minor conference they are appropriately place near the bottom of the bracket. While one could argue that their place could be moved around themselves, it is near impossible to say they deserve to pass one of the at-large teams.

Here are the remaining single bid conference teams: No. 14 Kent State, No. 14 Iona, No. 15 Northern Kentucky, No. 15 Troy, No. 15 Jacksonville State, No. 15 North Dakota, No. 16 Texas Southern, No. 16 South Dakota St., No. 16 UC Davis, No. 16 N.C. Central, No. 16 New Orleans, No. 16 Mt. St. Mary's 

Click here to join CSN's 2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge to have a chance to win Washington Wizards floor seats and other prizes. Presented by Chasen Boscolo.

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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USA TODAY Sports

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

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USA TODAY Sports

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.

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Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."