The NCAA is no stranger to using computer algorithms and formulas to place teams in a postseason tournament, and it might be time that the NCAA Tournament go the way of the now-extinct Bowl Championship Series (BCS) that chose college football’s best. The controversy surrounding the NCAA Selection Committee on a yearly basis is more than the 2016 Presidential election, and technology has made its presence felt more often in recent years.
How did the selection committee get it wrong this year? Take a look at a couple of instances that should help computers replace people for important tasks, such as selecting and seeding teams for the NCAA Tournament.
No. 12 Nevada (Midwest Region)
The Nevada Wolf Pack hasn’t a part of March Madness for 10 years. How does the committee reward them for such an offense? By seeding them lower than No. 10 VCU, and pitting them up against a mirror image in No. 5 Iowa State. While both teams find themselves in the top 50 BPI ranks, VCU (39th) holds a slight edge over Nevada (47th).
Nevada was projected to be around a No. 11 seed before winning their conference tournament, but dropped to a No. 12 after beating Colorado State in the Mountain West final. Perplexing to say the least, and VCU lost in the Atlantic 10 conference finale, yet a No. 10 was their lucky number.
No. 9 Michigan State (Midwest Region)
Yes, they had the 20th-ranked strength of schedule (SOS) and an RPI hovering around 51, but they finished with an 19-14 record. They also only racked up a 10-8 conference record in the Big Ten, which isn’t anything to write home about. Oh well, they have played well in the past several NCAA Tournaments and always draw a big crowd. Those things should not apply to the 2017 NCAA Tournament though, unless you are a member of the committee.
No. 9 Seton Hall (South Region)
The ninth-seeded teams are where the committee chose to put teams that should be a part of a play-in game slot. Seton Hall is a better nine than Michigan St. because the Big East was a more productive league than the Big 10, and they finished with a better record as well. But, they likely should have been in the double-digit seed group of the tournament this season.
The above mentioned teams are a black eye for the tournament, but what did the NCAA Selection Committee get right?
The Jim Boeheim-led Orange were on the bubble and that burst when the selection committee did not select them, and it honestly should have been. Syracuse was terrible on the road, and this is one team that the committee didn’t seem to interested in based on past accomplishments. It was a nice change of pace to see Syracuse placed in the NIT, even after wins against Duke, Florida State and Virginia. Chip Patterson of CBS Sports sums it up the best:
“They beat Wake Forest earlier this year and would likely be favored against USC, Providence or Kansas State, but the committee penalized them for failing to win away from home.”
No. 1 Gonzaga (West Region)
Like it or not, Gonzaga deserved to have the number one in front of its name on the NCAA bracket. Is there conference one of the top conferences in the country? No, but they finished with a 32-1 record, which is impressive in itself. Remember, the team doesn’t pick its conference, rather they play the schedule they are given.
Coach Mark Few and his Bulldogs have used an impressive past resumé to find themselves in this situation. In their defense, that seems to be something that is held to the highest of standards in this year’s seeding of the field.
Whether the field is something that the audience likes or dislikes, it is March and the madness has returned.