Biggest Winners and Losers on Selection Sunday
We've run oodles of winners and losers columns over the course of the college basketball season, but none as consequential as the one you're about to read.
Selection Sunday. Zero Hour.
Either you're in or it's over.
In the slides ahead we're breaking down all the biggest headlines from the newly minted Field of 68, including who made it, who didn't and whose path to glory looks smoothest.
Onward, to Madness!
Winner: Middle Tennessee State
Record: 28-5, 19-1 (Sun Belt)
Seed: No. 11, Midwest Region
The nation's most polarizing bubble team is in.
The computers loved Middle Tennessee State. RPI had the Blue Raiders at 28. Ken Pomeroy tabbed them as the nation's 32nd best team.
Critics countered by noting that MTSU only had one win over the RPI top 100.
The computers, it would appear, have prevailed.
Having been upset in their conference tournament for the second year in a row, the Blue Raiders get a long-awaited chance at redemption, and they just might seize it. With a tough defense that excels at forcing turnovers, MTSU provides an intriguing Cinderella profile.
Kermit Davis' team will play in the First Four against Saint Mary's and star guard Matthew Dellavedova.
Record: 26-8, 12-6 (Pac 12)
Seed: No. 12, Midwest Region
No one thought Oregon was a bubble team, except perhaps the Selection Committee. Despite winning the Pac-12 postseason tournament and finishing just a game off the pace during the regular season, the Ducks earned a No. 12 seed.
The implication is that Dana Altman's team might not have been dancing had it not cut down the nets in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, UCLA, a team Oregon beat twice, landed on the six line.
Record: 29-5, 14-4 (Big East)
Seed: No. 1, Midwest Region (First Overall Seed)
Louisville rampaged through the Big East tournament and poached the No. 1 overall seed from presumptive favorite Indiana in the process.
The Cardinals will be playing their second weekend games in nearby Indianapolis. For most of this college basketball season, we assumed it'd be the Hoosiers and their army of red rocking Lucas Oil Stadium.
Red is still the color, but it's Rick Pitino's team that'll be doing the rockin'. Combine the geographical edge with Louisville's stifling press defense, and the Cardinals look like an extremely tough out.
Record: 27-5, 14-4 (ACC)
Seed: No. 2, Midwest Region
Duke entered conference tournament week riding all sorts of momentum. Senior forward Ryan Kelly was back and playing at a high level, and the rest of Mike Krzyzewski's team seemed to be feeding off the energy.
All the Blue Devils needed to do was avoid an unsightly loss early in the ACC tournament and they were on their way to a No. 1 seed. So what do they do? Drop a quarterfinal game against NIT-bound Maryland.
Now Duke finds itself in a region with Louisville and Michigan State. The Blue Devils still have the talent to win it all, but they'll certainly have to earn it.
Record: 29-5, 14-4 (Big 12)
Seed: No. 1, South Region
What loss to Baylor?
Kansas dropped its regular-season finale 81-58 in Waco but bounced back by waltzing through the Big 12 tournament.
The committee rewarded the Jayhawks for their resilience by handing them the tournament's second overall seed.
Record: 27-6, 14-4 (Big 10)
Seed: No. 1, East Region
Indiana is still in good shape, but it has to sting a bit to know that the long-dreamed-about regional final in Indianapolis is no longer in the offing.
The Hoosiers seemed a virtual lock for the No. 1 overall seed through much of the regular season, but they lost out on a chance to play in their home region with a loss to Wisconsin in the Big 10 semifinals.
Record: 26-8, 12-4 (Atlantic 10)
Seed: No. 5, South Region
Shaka Smart's Rams have to love their draw.
In the opening round, they get an Akron team that recently lost its point guard.
In Round 3 they're expected to see Michigan, a team that's been struggling of late and was never much for depth even when it was going well. The Wolverines, to their credit, are excellent at preventing turnovers. But I'm not sure they've run for 40 minutes the way they'll have to against VCU.
That 'Havoc defense' has to be licking its lips.
Loser: North Carolina
Record: 24-10, 12-6 (ACC)
Seed: No. 8, South Region
North Carolina played as well as anyone in the ACC through the back half of the conference schedule. And after playing Miami tight in the tournament title game, the Tar Heels might have expected some love from the selection committee.
Instead, Roy Williams' squad winds up with a No. 8 seed and always dangerous Villanova awaiting it in the opening round. Win that, and UNC likely sees Kansas in Round 3.
Not an inviting draw for the Heels.
Record: 31-2, 16-0 (West Coast Conference)
Seed: No. 1, West Region
Gonzaga's schedule wasn't on par with other potential No. 1 seeds, but the Selection Committee looked past the Bulldogs' RPI (7) and strength of schedule (97) and gave Mark Few's team its first ever spot on the top line.
Now it's time for the 'Zags to prove they belong.
Record: 21-11, 11-7 (ACC)
Virginia had one of the more perplexing bubble profiles, with quality wins over Wisconsin, Duke and Tennessee juxtaposed against puzzling losses to Old Dominion, George Mason and Delaware.
In the end, it seems the Cavaliers didn't do enough away from home to secure a spot in the Big Dance. And an ugly 20-point loss to North Carolina State in the ACC quarters sure didn't help.
Measuring by adjusted efficiency, Virginia is one of the highest rated teams (along with Iowa) to miss the Field of 68.
Winner: La Salle
Record: 21-9, 11-5 (Atlantic 10)
Seed: No. 13, West Region
La Salle left a rotten last impression by losing its first A-10 tournament game against fellow bubble-dweller Massachusetts but snuck in thanks to earlier wins over Butler, Villanova and VCU (on the road).
This is the Explorers' first NCAA tournament appearance since 1992.
Record: 27-6, 15-3 (ACC)
Seed: No. 2, East Region
Despite winning the ACC regular-season and conference-tournament championships, Miami finds itself relegated to the two line. The Hurricanes were probably hurt by the fact that they didn't get a final crack at Duke in the ACC tourney.
Scarier still is the prospect of seeing Indiana in a Regional Final. The 'Canes would have probably liked to avoid a matchup with America's most complete team.
Winner: Boise State
Record: 21-10, 9-7 (Mountain West)
Seed: No. 13, West Region
With Boise State's selection, the Mountain West Conference has more teams in the tournament (five) than out (four). That's a well-deserved honor for one of America's toughest leagues.
The Broncos return to the NCAAs for the first time since 2008 and just the second time in the last 19 years.
Record: 21-11, 12-6 (SEC)
It's not a huge shock to see this particular Kentucky team on the outside looking in. The Wildcats were a spotty road team all year, but matters got considerably worse on that front when star center Nerlens Noel went down with a knee injury on February 12.
Of course, it is a huge shock whenever a team wearing Wildcat blue heads to the NIT, even one as star-crossed as this bunch. For Big Blue Nation, this is just the second time in the last 22 years that they've seen their boys relegated to a lesser postseason tournament.
For coach John Calipari and the program, it injects some doubt into the notion that a team can reload with top freshman every year and expect sterling results.
Winner: Ohio State
Record: 26-7, 13-5 (Big 10)
Seed: No. 2, West Region
Ohio State surged past conference rivals Michigan and Michigan State on the strength of its stellar tournament play and now finds itself in a region with Gonzaga, widely considered the most vulnerable No. 1.
The Buckeyes have played their best ball down the stretch and have to like the way their path to the Final Four looks.
Loser: The Pac-12
The committee was clearly unenthused by the quality of play in the Pac 12 this season, awarding No. 12 seeds to Oregon and Cal, two teams that finished tied for second during the conference regular season.
No Pac-12 team earned higher than a No. 6 seed, and Colorado limped away with a No. 10.
In the end, all five of the Pac-12 teams we expected to make the Field of 68 (Oregon, Cal, Colorado, Arizona and UCLA) made it, but some only barely.
Winner: San Diego State
Record: 22-10, 9-7 (Mountain West)
Seed: No. 7, South Region
It would appear that reports of San Diego State's potential bubble status entering conference tournament week were greatly exaggerated. Steve Fisher's Aztecs won only once in Mountain West postseason play (a 73-67 victory over Boise State) but still locked up a No. 7 seed.
Survive the opening game against Oklahoma, and San Diego State gets a beatable Georgetown team in Round 3. A second Sweet 16 appearance in the last three seasons is more than possible for Jamaal Franklin and Co.
Loser: The Rest of the Bubble
Condolences to Tennessee, Maryland, Iowa, Baylor, Massachusetts, Alabama, Southern Mississippi and Stephen F. Austin.
Laughs were had. Friends were made. Games were won.
Just not enough of them.
Next year, y'all. Next year.