Not Many Surprises in NCAA Field – From the Bird’s Nest
Every year I do my own bracket for the NCAA Tournament. I take the 68 teams, including my choices for the 37 at-large teams and give them my own seeding. Every year I miss a couple.
This year, it was just one.
And, it was the same one everyone else missed.
Each year the NCAA selection committee is different. And, each year, something different is emphasized for seeding purposes and also to select the last few teams.
This year the message was, play a strong non-conference schedule.
That message cost Missouri a possible #1 seed. In fact, it nearly cost them a #2 seed, despite a 31-4 record.
And, it got Iona in the tournament.
Iona, the regular season champion in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference didn't win its conference tournament. In fact, the Gaels didn't even make the finals. But they were rewarded for having the #43 strength of schedule in their non-conference play.
I had both Washington and Drexel in my bracket, until St. Bonaventure won the Atlantic-10 on Sunday. Then, I had to take someone out. Sorry, Dragons.
But I missed on Washington. In fact, I missed badly.
The CBS crew did a special after the Selection Show. It aired on TruTV, which will have some of the second and third round games. It broke down the brackets even further, and ranked the 68 teams 1-68. And, it listed the next four teams that "almost" made it.
In that show, we found that Missouri, whose non-conference schedule was one of the worst in America, was the 8th ranked team, meaning they were barely a #2 seed.
And, we found out that Oral Roberts must really not like St. Bonaventure right now.
The Golden Eagles lost in the Summit semifinals. Yet, they were listed as the "first team out" by the selection committee.
The other three? Miami (FL), Nevada and Drexel.
Seton Hall and Mississippi State were after those four, which means I missed badly by having Washington in the field.
Other than Iona, I wasn't surprised by anyone who made the field. I was surprised at some of the seeds.
I thought two teams that were really underseeded were Memphis and Murray State. Memphis was only a #8 seed. I figured they'd be about a six. And, how about Murray State? They lost one game. One. And yet, they were a #6 seed. I had them as a #4. I guess if they had gone undefeated they might have been seeded there.
I see where Vanderbilt, who won the SEC Tournament Sunday and earned a #5 seed is matched up against Harvard. Wow. There will be a bunch of 3.0 student-athletes on that court in Albuquerque. And, as I expected, if Western Kentucky wins their first round game against SWAC champion Mississippi Valley State, they will be paired up against Big Blue in the second round.
I knew the committee would have a sense of humor about that.
As always, there are some intriguing first round matchups featuring teams from power conferences against teams that are a lot better than anyone realizes. I'm putting Indiana and Wisconsin on upset alert right now. Baylor and Georgetown had better be ready as well.
Almost everyone is picking Kentucky to win this thing. And, their loss in the SEC title game probably helps them down the road.
But, it's time to fill out the brackets.
The tournament starts Tuesday in Dayton.
It's time for March Madness.