The 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket was set in stone yesterday, March 13th, 2011 on Selection Sunday. This is perhaps the weakest bracket we have seen in years, and as a result some programs that expected to gain entrance to the tournament did not end up cracking the new 68 team bracket. These teams included, but are not restricted to, Colorado, Virginia Tech and Alabama.
These three teams were big shockers to miss the tournament based upon their results over highly ranked teams within the regular season. The biggest miss by the NCAA decision's board was of course the Colorado Buffaloes, who in Big 12 action this season managed to defeat nationally ranked Kansas State Wildcats on three separate occasions as well as a ranked Missouri team and the Big 12 tournament finalist Texas Longhorns in the lone meeting between the two teams this season.
Understood is the idea that each conference will have at least one or two representatives, but a team with such huge wins not making the tournament is nothing short of shocking.
Next up is Virginia Tech. It is easy to oversight VaTech as they do sit in that tough ACC, but they were able to defeat tournament bound Florida State twice as well as Penn State. Their miss was just the luck, or lack there of, of the draw.
Alabama is another team who you could argue either way for. They may not come close to the leaders in any statistical category in the nation, but they also won the SEC West and qualified to play for the SEC title against a powerhouse Kentucky team. Prior to this loss they have defeated that same Kentucky team earlier in the season and also took out the tournament bound Georgia Bulldogs and Tennessee Volunteers. The fact that five of the six SEC East teams got to book their tickets to the tournament leaving the lone SEC West contender behind is not right.
Honorable Mention: The Harvard Crimson looked slotted in to take the Ivy League spot in the tournament in 2011. They had a very good season and the Ivy League finally got it right putting real student athletes on the court. The Ivy teams did not hand out basketball scholarships this season and it finally showed. In fairness to Princeton, that Ivy League championship game was one of the best college basketball games to be watched in a long time, but if the NCAA allowed two Ivy League schools spots Harvard would definitely deserve that second spot.
Honorable Mention: Saint Mary's lack of inclusion in the draw is to be expected coming out of a mid-major conference like the West Coast Conference, but they are a team who if given the opportunity would flourish in the tournament.