Yesterday the field of 68 for March Madness was officially released. I intended to give my final bracket predictions along with a first impressions blog yesterday, but I’ve been pretty sick lately, so it never ended up happening.
However, I can say that from my latest bracket, if we assume that Wyoming’s auto bid took Miami’s spot, I got 66/68 teams in the tournament correct, same as most bracketologists. Nearly everyone had Colorado St and Temple in the tournament, even though the committee decided otherwise. What’s even more surprising to me is the teams that were included instead of them: UCLA and Indiana. Now I had both of them in my first four out, so it doesn’t come as a terrible shock that they made it, but what annoys me is that neither team is in a play-in game, meaning that a 19-13 UCLA team and Indiana that lost nine of their last 14 games both weren’t even in the last four teams in the tournament.
How the committee could have made these mistakes is beyond me. Colorado St and Temple were clearly more worthy in my opinion. In fact, neither one of them were in my last four in! They were both in the last four byes category! How the committee and I had such differing opinions on these four teams in beyond me. I was definitely looking forward to seeing Colorado St in the tournament. They were a solid upset pick from a 10-11 seed for me. They had won 27 games and had a sub-30 RPI, becoming the first team with an RPI that high to be left out of the field. And then Temple: I guess 25 point victories over Kansas mean nothing? Sure that was early in the year, but any team with the capability to pull that off deserves to be dancing.
I feel strongly that those four bubble teams received improper treatment from the committee. Additionally, I also feel that the committee made bad mistakes in the seedings of other teams in the tournament. Here are five teams the committee overrated and underrated.
1) Xavier- Projected seed: 8; Actual seed: 6. C’mon guys, a 13-loss 6-seed? I know they made a run to the Big East Championship, but they’ve lost to teams like Long Beach St, Auburn, Depaul, and Creighton. Heck of a 6.
2) Georgetown- Projected seed: 6; Actual seed: 4. Now I really like the Big East. I’d really go as far to say that they could produce as many Sweet Sixteen teams as any conference. However, I don’t see how the Hoyas are any better than Butler or Providence.
3) Oklahoma St- Projected seed: 10/11; Actual seed: 9. Again, it seems the committee really loved teams from “power conferences” so much that they were willing to overlook their flaws. You can’t give a team with a losing conference record a 9.
4) LSU- Projected seed: 11; Actual seed: 9. It’s hard to imagine how high they would’ve been seeded if they hadn’t loss to the awful Auburn in the SEC tournament. Did I mention an RPI of 58, DOUBLE Colorado St’s?
5) Iowa- Projected seed: 8/9; Actual seed: 7. I applaud them for closing so strong in the Big Ten, but they really got beat up by the bottom of the conference, with losses to Minnesota, Penn State, and Northwestern.
1) Northern Iowa- Projected seed: 4; Actual seed: 5. 2) Wichita St- Projected Seed: 5; Actual seed: 7. With a combined seven losses between them, these two squads are vastly underrated coming from a Missouri Valley that has some really solid teams. Either one of these teams could make really surprise people and go far (and I have them both doing just that).
3) Ohio St- Projected seed: 8; Actual seed: 10. Expect the Buckeyes to upset VCU in the first round, taking advantage of an injured Briante Weber. They’ve beaten Maryland by 24, so they can play some great ball.
4) Oregon- Projected seed: 6/7; Actual seed: 8. The Ducks are as hot as any team, winning 11 out of their last 13 games in the Pac 12. Did I mention two of those came against Utah?
5) Dayton- Projected seed: 9; Actual seed: 11. The Flyers took second place in the Atlantic-10 and won at VCU earlier in the year. The 25-8 Flyers get to play in their hometown in the first four, even though they never should’ve been there in the first place. If they get through, Providence should watch out.
Time will tell if the committee actual did get these seedings right or if they made some bad mistakes.