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Who Got Screwed on Selection Sunday?

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystDecember 5, 2016

Who Got Screwed on Selection Sunday?

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    The Selection Show has been over for a few hours, so chances are you've already filled out a dozen brackets.

    If you haven't, what are you waiting for? We've got all the links you need at the bottom of this page.

    However, before you fill out that 20th bracket, let's take a step back and ask a very important question: Who got screwed by the selection committee?

    On the following slides, we have 10 teams or collections of teams who were either unjustly left out, seeded too low or just stuck with a bad draw.

     

Oregon as a No. 12 Seed?

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    To be sure, when the regular season ended, the Ducks were an incredibly bubbly team. I had Cal, Colorado and Oregon all virtually indistinguishable as No. 11 seeds. Cal and Colorado lost early in the Pac-12 tournament, so I totally understand the seeding they each received.

    But the Ducks won the Pac-12 tournament!

    How does a conference send five teams to the tournament when its automatic bid receives a No. 12 seed? You can critique the draw they received in the conference tournament (Washington, Utah and a short-handed UCLA), but I thought their worst-case scenario was the No. 8/9 game. Brutal.

New Mexico as a No. 3 Seed?

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    Duke was No. 1 in both RPI and SOS but received a No. 2 seed, though that's defensible since the Devils won neither the ACC regular-season title nor the conference tournament championship.

    New Mexico was No. 2 in both RPI and SOS, won the Mountain West regular-season championship, won the Mountain West conference tournament and received a No. 3 seed.

    Are you kidding me? What more could the Lobos have possibly done?

    Perhaps without Greg Shaheen at the helm, computer profiles don't mean as much as they used to mean.

Saint Louis Against New Mexico State in San Jose

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    Only two teams west of Kansas were really in contention for a top-four seed, but four of them had to play in either Salt Lake City or San Jose. As expected, Gonzaga and New Mexico were placed out west, and two of the No. 4 seeds were given the antithesis of home-court advantage.

    That's not entirely why Saint Louis was screwed, though.

    New Mexico State is a matchup nightmare for virtually anyone in the country—something we'll definitely cover in the coming breakdown of the toughest teams to play. Freshman Sim Bhullar is the biggest man in the country, making it nearly impossible for anyone to score in the paint against NMSU.

    Unfortunately, that's the Billikens' primary locale for scoring. Aside from Cody Ellis, no one on the team averages more than four three-point attempts per game. How will they do when forced to play more on the perimeter?

Pretty Much the Entire SEC

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    It's a bit hard for me to make a specific argument for Tennessee, Kentucky or Alabama since I didn't have any of them in my field. That said, I was sort of expecting to at least see one of them on Sunday night.

    Believe you me, I know the SEC had a miserably down year, but only three teams in the tournament? That seems a little rough.

    And the teams that did make it didn't exactly get great draws. Florida was sent to the South region for a first-round game against the highest-scoring team in the country. Missouri is the second-best rebounding team in the country but drew the fourth-best rebounding team in the first round and Louisville in the second round.

    Last, but certainly not least, Ole Miss won the SEC tournament and received a No. 12 seed in the West region. Good work, Marshall Henderson! Enjoy your first-round game against Wisconsin, your second-round game against Kansas State in Kansas City and a Sweet 16 game against Gonzaga in Los Angeles. I'm sure the Rebels will win it all.

Everyone Who Played on Sunday

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    It's long been assumed that the Big Ten championship game—because it ends less than an hour before the Selection Show—has no bearing on the final bracket. There's just not enough time to rearrange the brackets based on the result of one game.

    This year, though, it's pretty clear that none of the Sunday games meant anything at all. If anything, it's as if teams get penalized for playing on Sunday.

    Wisconsin as a No. 5 seed? That seems like a real slap in the face of the Big Ten tournament, doesn't it? I was considering the Badgers for a No. 2 seed if they beat Ohio State.

    Miami looked amazing against North Carolina (more on them in a bit) but couldn't crack the top line despite winning the ACC regular-season and conference championships. Saint Louis was considered one of the lowest No. 4 seeds, while I thought they were on the verge of a No. 3 seed. And we already hit on the SEC teams.

    In fact, VCU was the only team playing on Sunday who ended up getting a better seed than I anticipated. Something to keep in mind when making the bracket projections next year: just ignore all games on Sunday.

Pittsburgh as a No. 8 Seed in the West

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    Having updated the projected bracket continually throughout the week, I can appreciate the perils of trying to seed the Big East this season. With eight teams from the conference making the tournament, there had to be one and only one team from the Big East in each half of each region.

    If you move one Big East team anywhere, it has quite the ripple effect. For example, when it looked like Syracuse was going to beat Louisville—jumping from a No. 4 seed to a No. 3 seed and dropping Louisville from the top line to a No. 2—there were 16 planned changes to the projected bracket just to accommodate for that one game. It gets messy in a hurry.

    However, Marquette as a No. 3 seed seems a bit high. Why not put the Golden Eagles as the No. 4 or No. 5 seed in the West so Pitt can play in the bottom half of the East region? You could still give Marquette home-court advantage in the first two rounds, and Pitt would be playing closer to home if it made it to the Sweet 16.

    With the bracket as is, though, Pitt would have to go through San Jose and Los Angeles to make the Final Four. That's just wrong, isn't it?

North Carolina as a No. 8 Seed in Kansas' Region

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    This one is a twofold screw job.

    First off, North Carolina should have gotten a better seed than this. I will admit that as it was climbing up my rankings, I was getting a little concerned that it only had two RPI Top 50 wins all season. Still, the Tar Heels finish the season in the top 15 of both the RPI and SOS.

    Look at all the teams that received a No. 6 or 7 seed and tell me that you wouldn't take North Carolina to beat each and every one of them. (I know Butler manhandled the Heels earlier this season, but assume the game is played right now rather than four months ago in Maui.)

    The second half of the screw job is having to play against Kansas in Kansas City (assuming the Heels beat Villanova and Kansas can squeak by Western Kentucky). I'm all for matchups with fun story lines, so from an "I can't wait to watch that game" perspective, I'm thrilled with what the committee did here.

    Can't imagine Roy Williams feels the same way about facing his former team so early in the tournament. And to think, I kept scheduling Harvard away from Michigan because I thought the committee would try to avoid having Tommy Amaker face his old team.

UNLV Playing Essentially a Road Game

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    Though it's definitely a screw job, I'm kind of OK with this one.

    The Mountain West is supposed to be one of the best conferences in the nation, but the conference tournament is held at a "neutral court" in Las Vegas every season.

    UNLV also had a home-court advantage in the Global Sports Classic—which, in retrospect, ended up batting a thousand in sending teams to the NCAA tournament.

    Though they failed to take the home-court advantage in either of those tournaments, it only seems fair that the Rebels should have to travel to San Jose to play against Cal in the first round. And that they would have to travel across the country to face Indiana in the Sweet 16.

    I'm sure they won't see it that way.

    Also, UNLV and Cal already played this season! What the heck happened to that rule about first-round pairings?

Syracuse Drawing Great Three-Point Shooting Teams

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    If there's one thing we've learned from watching Syracuse play the 2-3 zone for roughly 50 consecutive seasons, it's that it can be beaten by teams who are willing to live behind the arc.

    Lo and behold, the Orange's first-round opponent shoots 38.5 percent from long range. That's good enough for 19th in the country.

    Should they get past Montana, just two rounds later lurks either Indiana (41.1 percent) or North Carolina State (39.3 percent). Even if Temple should come out of that section, the Owls have already beaten Syracuse this season.

    If the Orange make it to the Elite Eight against those potential opponents, I would be in disbelief.

Everyone in the Midwest

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    Though the Midwest region was the first one revealed on the CBS Selection Show, it was immediately apparent that it was going to be the most difficult region to predict.

    The thing is, the committee goes through a process to allegedly avoid these exact situations. The committee ranks the top 16 teams from No. 1 to No. 16 and then assigns that value to each team. They then place the 16 teams into the regions as geographically convenient as possible.

    After that, they're supposed to sum up the values of the four teams in each region and compare them against each other. If the strongest region is more than five points away from the weakest region, they make some changes.

    Are you with me so far?

    Well, based on my power rankings (which we can safely assume the committee did not consult), the Midwest region scores a 30 while the East region scores a 42...seriously, how did Marquette get a No. 3 seed?

    An average score should be a 34. The only things we know for sure at the moment are that Louisville received a 1 and Saint Louis received either a 15 or 16. That means Duke and Michigan State combined for somewhere in the vicinity of 18 points. Was Duke really that low of a No. 2 seed?

    Either way, best of luck picking the first few rounds of that region, and all regions for that matter.

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