Maryland Terps

NCAA Tournament 2017 Bracket Analysis: March Madness snubs; what the committee got wrong

Maryland Terps

The field of 68 for the 2017 NCAA Tournament was finalized on Sunday afternoon following the Selection Sunday show on CBS.

The NCAA Selection Committee had an interesting task at hand when it came to picking the four No. 1 seeds. Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Arizona, Duke and UNC were all thought to have a chance to get the top spot in one of the four regions.

In the end, Villanova, Kansas, UNC and Gonzaga earned the top four No. 1-seeds.

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That means the ACC Tournament champion Duke Blue Devils, SEC Tournament champion Kentucky Wildcats and Pac 12 Tournament champion Arizona Wildcats were bumped from the No. 1 seed line in favor of two teams — Kansas and North Carolina — that did not make the finals of their conference tournament. Gonzaga, despite their weak conference schedule, edged out Arizona because of their record vs. Top 50 teams, including a win over the Wildcats.

In terms of at-large snubs, it's hard to pin point many egregious errors. Kansas State earned the final at-large bid, ranked No. 46 according to the complete seed list. The Wildcats' resume was bolstered by two wins over a top 10 Baylor team, as well as a win over then No. 7 West Virginia. Kansas State's best non-conference win was against Colorado State, which makes the decision a bit surprising even though the tournament bubble was remarkable weak.

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2017 NCAA Tournament snubs:

Syracuse, a team that lucked in to an at-large bid in 2016, was left on the wrong side of the bubble at the end of Selection Sunday. The Orange finished 18-14 (10-8 ACC) with non-conference losses to UConn, Georgetown and St. John's, three teams that did not make the 2017 NCAA Tournament. A key reason the Orange got in last season was because Jim Boeheim's team  had several notable road and neutral court wins. The Orange had very few this season.

Michigan State, Providence, Southern Cal and Wake Forest, four teams that joined Syracuse squarely on the bubble, we're rewarded with at-large bids. 

What the Tournament Selection Committe got wrong: Big Ten seeding

-- The Big Ten Seeding in the NCAA Tournament: #4 Purdue (Midwest), #5 Minnesota (South), #6 Maryland (West), #7 Michigan (Midwest), #8 Wisconsin (East), #8 Northwestern (West), #9 Michigan State (Midwest).

— Wisconsin earned a No. 8 seed in the same region as No. 1 overall seed Villanova. The Badgers finished in second-place in the Big Ten regular season and were Big Ten Tournament runners-up. By comparison, the Maryland Terrapins were given a No. 6 seed despite finishing behind the Badgers in Big Ten regular season play and losing in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. Maryland and Wisconsin did not have a lot of stellar non-conference wins, but Wisconsin played a significantly larger number of competent teams than Maryland.

—  Michigan the team that won the conference tournament, was given a No. 8 seed and a date with No. 10 Oklahoma State. While Michigan was a bubble team entering the Big Ten Tournament, slotting the Wolverines above Wisconsin AND Northwestern is an interesting decision at best. 

— It's hard not to like what Richard Pitino a nd Minnesota did this season. It's hard to wonder how they got the second best seed of any Big Ten team. The Gophers won nine of their last 11 but have a similar strength of schedule to Maryland and Wisconsin. 

— The the Selection Sundy show on CBS, Selection committee chair Mark Hollis -- Michigan State's Athletic Director -- explained that with selecting the four No. 1 seeds, most of their decisions were complete before championship week. If that same thought process was used for seeding #5-#68, it's an issue. If it's not the same thought process, it's still an issue.

What the Tournament Selection Committe got wrong: Wichita State

— Wichita State was one of the most difficult teams to project. The Shockers won the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and conference tournament championship. But their best non-conference win came against a marginal Oklahoma team.

-- The Shockers were given a No. 10 seed and a date with No. 7 Dayton, with No. 2 seed Kentucky potentially waiting in the wings. Kentucky and Wichita State faced off in the 2014 NCAA Tournament when the Shockers were an undefeated 35-0 No. 1 seed and the Wildcats were a No. 9-seed at-large team. 

 

— The team Wichita State beat in the MVC championship game, Illinois State, was thought to be on the bubble and many believe the Redbirds deserved an at-large bid. But Illinois State had limited games vs. Top 50 competition and no notable non-conference wins. Sorry, mid-major fans. Illinois State was not a snub.

— Iowa State being given a No. 5 seed despite winning the Big 12 Tournament and finishing their season with wins in nine of their final ten games. The committee clearly devalued the Big 12 Tournament. 

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