Monday, March 17, 2008

Bracket Thoughts

I usually go into Selection Sunday expecting to have huge problems with who the committee puts in and who they leave out. This year - none. There are really only five teams that can even mount an argument as to being snubbed: Dayton, Virginia Tech, Illinois State, Ohio State, and Arizona State. I think Arizona State is really the only team that has a legitimate gripe. Yes, they blew out Xavier, swept Arizona, beat, USC, beat Oregon, and beat Stanford, but they also were blown out by Illinois and Nebraska and played a horrendous non-conference schedule. They also had an RPI of 82. I know that there are a lot of people out there that have a problem with the RPI, but there is a reason the stat is used. In 1999, New Mexico earned an at-large with the highest RPI (74), and that was when the head of the selection committee was from New Mexico. If the selection process is to have any credibility, then the committee needs to follow the RPI rankings. 82 is simply too high for an at-large team.

Now that's out of the way, let's take a look at the seedings. First of all, how did Butler get a 7 seed? This team has been ranked all season. They won their conference outright, and their conference tournament (last year they didn't do either and earned a 5 seed). And they drew South Alabama in Birmingham, a de-facto home game in the first round. I also think that both Washington State and Oregon got seeded to high, while Kansas State and Baylor got shafted a bit with their 11 seeds.

My only other beef with the bracket is some of the first round match-ups. The committee paired mid-majors with mid-majors (Butler vs. South Alabama, Drake vs. Western Kentucky, Gonzaga vs. Davidson, UNLV vs. Kent State) and high-majors with high-majors (Indiana vs. Arkansas, USC vs. Kansas State, Purdue vs. Baylor, Marquette vs. Kentucky, Clemson vs. Villanova). I realize that this just may be how the committee felt the quality of the teams broke down, but part of the intrigue of the NCAA tournament is the chance for David to take down Goliath. Doesn't this eliminate that somewhat?

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