Selection Committee: What a Mess
Selection Sunday; it’s a national holiday to many–a holiday when people sit on the edge of their chairs awaiting the news to see if their favorite team made the field of 68 or not; a day where fans sit frantically trying to find out where, when, and whom their team will play; a day of complete idiocy this year.
Let’s rewind for a minute. The NCAA selection committee is a ten member committee responsible for selecting, seeding, and bracketing the field for the NCAA Tournament. This group of ten is made up of school and conference administrators, which are nominated by their conference, each serving five-year terms.
On the Tuesday before Selection Sunday, the committee arrives in New York City where they spend the next five days debating and configuring the final bracket.
This leads us to today.
The days after the Selection Show where everyone is left utterly clueless and dumbfounded.
Of course, I understand this is no easy task. The selection committee receives gripes every year, some fair and some not. This year, and basically every year, I never really have a problem with who did and did not make the final 68 teams. It is nearly impossible to produce the bracket without the media complaining (they complain about everything). If you’ve ever noticed the media in their minds are never wrong, but that is an issue and column I will discuss some other time. Now I must say, Tulsa getting into the tournament over teams like San Diego State and Monmouth is preposterous, but I have other, more imperative, complaints.
My main argument this year: the seeding and placing of teams throughout the bracket is the most idiotic entity I have ever seen the selection committee make.
Joe Lunardi, an ESPN member and the producer of Bracketology, said that “the committee’s performance is slipping, year over year, and it’s my job to point that out when necessary.” Lunardi also added “what you have is a selection and bracketing process that appears to have gone off the rails.”
It all begins with the number one overall seed of the tournament, Kansas.
The committee, which is agreed on by all, awarded the number one overall seed to the Jayhawks, but can someone please tell me why they are playing in the South region instead of the Midwest?
According to ncaa.org and the 2015-16 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Principle and Procedures for Establishing the Bracket “teams will remain in or as close to their areas of natural interests as possible.” No, your eyes aren’t playing games on you, that quote is in bold. Why? Because on the website the exact quote is shown in bold in bigger font than other scripts throughout the page, generally meaning it is of more importance right?
Not according to this year’s bracket.
Now can someone confirm that Lawrence, Kansas is in the Midwest? I’m not that crazy am I? So according to the Principle and Procedures for Establishing the Bracket, why Is Kansas not playing the regional in Chicago (one hour non-connecting flight), but playing it in Louisville (a four hour connecting flight)? I mean, this should be a no-brainer, right?
Another region complaint I have is for Villanova, the number two seed in the South region.
According to the complete seed list (a list of 1-68 of tournament teams), Villanova is ranked seventh while Xavier follows them at eight. If Villanova was placed before Xavier, why is Xavier in the Philadelphia region while Villanova is in the Louisville region? Regardless of which team was ranked higher, according to the quote I mentioned above on the NCAA, wouldn’t Xavier (Cincinnati) much rather be in Louisville than Philadelphia? Now you might be thinking this wouldn’t be fair to North Carolina to potentially play Villanova in Philadelphia, where Villanova is located, but then why is Miami and Baylor going to Providence to face Buffalo and Yale respectively? Be consistent.
Undoubtedly, I could be nit-picking a little there. I will respectfully disagree, but I understand your point.
The biggest mess of this bracket is the seeding. Why is Texas A&M (26-8) a three seed while Kentucky (26-8) a four when Kentucky just beat A&M in overtime to win the SEC Championship? The head of the committee chair Joseph Castiglione tried to explain on ESPN and made a fool of himself, saying Kentucky has lost to many teams outside of the tournament field while both A&M and Kentucky have lost to five.
Both the Big Ten and SEC Championship games on Sunday don’t mean a thing, as if the committee is too lazy to factor those games into the tournament. Kentucky beats A&M, doesn’t get rewarded, Michigan State beats Purdue, doesn’t get rewarded.
Don’t even get me started on the Big Ten, who took a backhand to the face from the selection committee this year. It starts with Michigan State, who won a Big Ten tournament championship, went 29-5, is looking like one (if not the) best team in the country and doesn’t get a one seed. Indiana, who won the Big Ten regular season championship outright, getting a five seed. Purdue, who might have the best big men in the country, went to the Big Ten championship game and lost to Michigan State, as a five seed. Also Maryland and Iowa are five and seven seeds respectively. I don’t have much objection with Maryland and Iowa because I believe both have been overrated all season long, but both Indiana and Purdue not being in the top four seeds?
Here’s where the committee’s egos get in the way. Schools like Wichita State and Kansas won’t play in the regular season, the committee made sure they played in the tournament last year. Indiana and Kentucky won’t play in the regular season, they make sure there could be a potential second round matchup this year. Texas and Texas A&M are two other teams that don’t play in the regular season, but could meet in a second round matchup this year.
Sense a trend?
It’s as if the committee takes it into their own hands and forces teams to play that won’t in the regular season.
But what about Duke? Mike Krzyzewski says he will never schedule Maryland again after the Terps bolted for the Big Ten. It just so happens that Duke and Maryland get a four and five seed this year respectively, but the committee makes sure they are both in separate regions. Where is the consistency?
The committee members will go on television telling you there are no bias, blah, blah, blah. Of course there is a bias. Money talks, ratings talk. Do you think it’s a coincidence that SportsCenter tweeted minutes after the East bracket was announced about a possible Indiana vs. Kentucky matchup? Of course not. Why do you think some teams have the easiest road every year while others have the hardest? This is not dumb luck or a thing of chance people, there is and always will be logic behind this.
Good job, committee. You did about as bad of a job as CBS did with the selection show this year, and that’s a hard one to top.