By now you have had time to learn about most of the teams, formulate opinions and start making NCAA Basketball picks for the NCAA Tournament whether they be brackets or otherwise.
On the night of the NCAA Tournament Bracket Selections, there was the usual, “I feel bad for ___ (fill in the blank) because team so and so did not get in”, but seriously, with almost half the field (32 teams) having nine or more straight up losses, can you really feel sorry for anybody?
However, when reviewing the seeding, this year there was a number of head-scratchers and while we are the first to agree it ultimately does not matter because you still have to win six games, it does impact how the tournament plays out. Here are the errors I thought the committee made and why and what it might mean to NCAA Tournament Picks.
Big East Baloney and more
Unless Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullen were on the NCAA committee secretly, the Big East got more love for mediocrity than Scott Disick (think Kardashian’s).
Let’s start with Georgetown being a four-seed. The Hoyas tied for second in the Big East and were eliminated in the semi-finals of the postseason tournament. If the committee members take various metrics to heart, Georgetown was 21st in both the BPI and KenPom rankings at the end of the regular season, which would make them a sixth-seed, not a four.
Let’s consider factors including NCAA Tournament odds. G-Town suffered 10 losses, 10, and while each was against a team that made the tourney field, this is rewarding mediocrity, not excellence. Taking this one further as a college basketball handicapper, of those 10 defeats, only once did Georgetown manage to beat the sportsbooks number, finishing 1-9 ATS, proving they fell well below market expectations and deserved a much lower seed.
Xavier was made a sixth-seed based on….being ranked in the top 30 of both the BPI and KenPom rankings for a large portion of the season I guess. The Musketeers have a fine NCAA Tournament history, frequently making the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 since the turn of the century but this is supposed to be about THIS YEAR and what I see is 13 losses. Let’s also consider Xavier was SIXTH in the Big East at 9-9 and I don’t recall any comparisons between the Big 12 and the Big East.
While some might argue every team loses games (except Kentucky), being on the wrong end of the final score against Long Beach State, Auburn, DePaul and Creighton, four teams outside the top 100 RPI is inexcusable. Let’s look at this another way, if No.6 Xavier was in the same bracket at No. 11 Texas, looking at virtually any set of power ratings, the Longhorns would be a one or two point favorite which tells you when looking at college basketball odds how over-seeded Xavier was.
Finally St. John’s and Louisville both qualify for similar reasons. The Red Storm at 9-seed is not farfetched but what about the announcement of center Chris Obekpa being suspended by St. John’s the morning of Selection Sunday? The loss of Obekpa has a tremendous impact on the Red Storm’s defense and the committee has a long history of lowering team’s seeds when they have suffered an injury or would be missing a key player. This seemed like they had made up their minds and did not consider new developments.
The same applies to Louisville and this was clear long before they even convened last week. The loss of starting point guard Chris Jones made an average Cardinals offense significantly worse and Louisville closed the season 5-5 (4-6 ATS) and it is evident they are no longer one of the Top 16 teams in the country. While the Cardinals could reach the Sweet 16, that does not justify such a seed.
In all, there seemed to be very little structure to how teams were seeded, with no definitive points like – body of work – finishing strong – or some other tangible explanation and the final product is poorer in my opinion than the last several years.
Share your thoughts with me, especially after reading my Underrated Teams report.