When the field of 68 is first released, the first thing you hear is all the criticism from the “experts” on who got left out or who was seeded unfairly. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with this many teams there really is no perfect scenario that will ever make everyone happy. I don’t believe the main problem is within the system, as much as I think they have the wrong people in charge. With that being said, the committee actually did a better job with the seeding overall this year than the “experts” predicted. After the first two days, only 1 upset of 2.5 points (according to Vegas) or less had happened. However, there were still multiple occurrences that were clearly unfair and seedings that they just completely whiffed on.
My biggest complaint about the tournament thus far was the location in which the South Carolina Gamecocks were able to receive obvious home court advantage through their first two opening round games. The Gamecocks were one of the coldest teams in the country coming into the Tournament while losing 6 of their last 9 games overall. Despite that fact, they still received a favorable 7-seed and were placed in the Greenville, South Carolina region to play their games. I didn’t have such a problem with it in their first match-up against lower seed Marquette, but in the next round for them to have clear home court advantage against a number 2 seed is preposterous. Home court advantage is everything in today’s college basketball, as opposed to other sports. This Gamecocks team was able to thrive off of the intensity of their home fans, and just out muscle Duke and really took them out of their game offensively. Now I understand nobody wants to sit here and defend the Duke Blue Devils (especially me, a UNC fan), I just think the committee really messed up in this instance that could’ve easily been avoided.
Seeding Process Gone Wrong
After the first couple rounds, it’s clear that the selection committee definitely slipped up when it came to correctly seeding some of these teams. Whether it was seeding a specific team too high, or too low, the sweet 16 could be looking completely different right now.
The biggest problem with the selection and seeding process is that it’s reliant on top-50 wins. Mid-majors like Wichita State and, to some extent Dayton, don’t have nearly as many opportunities for top- 50 wins as mediocre teams in power conferences, especially in the latter part of the season.
We can all agree that these teams are no way near the same teams they are in November as when the season concludes in March. The question then is; if these non-conference games hold so much weight, why are they mainly played in the beginning of the season when these kids are still getting acclimated to each others play (not to mention college itself for freshman). Especially during the first few weeks in the year when these tournaments are held in Maui or some neutral court, where nobody really has a feel for what is going on yet. This is something that needs to be changed, so that it doesn’t only heavily revolve only around conference games.
In my opinion teams like St. Mary’s, Creighton, and Maryland were obviously over seated as they didn’t really impress. The USC Trojans on the other hand, were poorly respected, while being forced to play a play-in game before knocking off No. 6 SMU and taking No. 3 Baylor down to the wire. However, at the end of the day you need to knock off whoever is in front of you to advance to the next round. It doesn’t really matter who’s name is on the front of the jersey, you still need to show up and take care of business on that given day. As we’ve come to realize, March really is madness and when that orange ball is thrown up and that whistle blows anything can happen.