Bracket Breakdown: What Were They Thinking?

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Forget about Christmas. This is the most wonderful time of the year.

The Selection Committee has spoken and the bracket has been released. Judging by the loading times on every single sports website, you and everyone else in America are printing and filling out your bracket so hastily that you all probably misspelled
Valparaiso. That’s okay, it happens.

While we are all shaking with anticipation and trying to think of a legit excuse to get out of work for Thursday and Friday, I hate to be the Scrooge, but someone has to be. I have a few gripes with this year’s selection committee. Nothing too serious, they didn’t put Gonzaga as a 7-seed or anything stupid — but there are a few head scratchers.

Five Indiana teams, same region?

First, why in the H-E-double hockey sticks are all five teams from Indiana in the same darn region? And to boot, why are they all in the same region as Kentucky? There must there some sort of conspiracy strategy being floated around in that committee
room in Indy to not have another Indiana team make it to the Final Four in their home state as was the case with Butler in 2010.

Four of the five Indiana teams are picked by Vegas to lose in the first round, anyway. At least spread out the pain, Selection Committee. On second thought, maybe Hoosiers should be thanking the Selection Committee for putting all their teams in the Midwest region so the drive home is a little less painful.

UCLA? Really?

Secondly, I know that UCLA is a college hoops institution. I get that, we all get that. But someone please, oh please, give me a legitimate answer as to why this team is in the tournament field? I’ll wait…

Steve Alford’s Bruins are just 2-8 against RPI Top 50 teams with only three more wins in the RPI Top 100 with victories over Stanford (twice) and Cal. Cal isn’t even in the Tournament, the National Invitational Tournament, that is. (Side Note: Tennessee didn’t make the NIT either, sweet justice for Cuonzo Martin. You got what you deserved, Big Orange). UCLA won just two road games all season long. TWO! That’s all! They were just 4-11 on road and neutral court games combined. Get out of here with that mess.

UCLA is set to play SMU in the Second Round instead of at least being forced to play in the First Round/Play-in game in Dayton. (Another side note: I thought we fixed this “First Round = Play-In Game, Round Two is actually First Round nonsense.” No?)

Dayton at home?

Which leads me to my next point … why, oh why, is Dayton in a play-in game? Archie Miller’s squad deserved better, and to essentially say that they are equivalent to UCLA is pretty wretched. Dayton has a Top 40 KenPom rating, Top 30 RPI, 25 wins, and a winning record versus the RPI Top 100. UCLA’s resume is toilet paper compared to that, yet the committee has the Bruins ranked as the No. 42 team in the tourney and the Flyers as No.46. The only silver lining to this sham: the Flyers play their first round matchup at home in UD Arena on Wednesday night.

Other points …

My final points are much more knit-picky. First, I have a hard time buying Georgetown as a No. 4. seed. To say that the Hoyas are at the bare minimum the No. 16 team in the nation is stock I have trouble buying. The Hoyas are a good team who can win a game or two in this tournament but to put them on the same line as Maryland, North Carolina, and Louisville doesn’t seem quite right.

Lastly, Colorado State didn’t make the tournament after being ranked 29th in RPI. They are the first team to miss the cut and be ranked that high in RPI since 2007.

So those are my minor, yet important gripes. Do with them what you will, but most importantly — let the madness commence.

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