Monday, March 16, 2009

NCAA Selection Committee Screws Cinderella

The Selection Committee really screwed the Cinderellas this year.

VCU -- a strong contender for a Sweet 16 run -- got three-time defending Final Four participant UCLA, then Villanova... in Philadelphia.

Siena -- which won a Tournament game last year -- was "rewarded" with a 9-seed, putting it up against Louisville in Round 2. (BYU got similar treatment, stuck in an 8/9 game, then UConn.)

Western Kentucky? Gonzaga? If they win their first-round games, they play... each other, ensuring that one mid-major won't advance.

When you look at the bracket -- from the seeding and placement to who they DIDN'T include (lowest-ever 4 non-power-conf at-large bids) -- you see a Committee favoring power leagues.

If this is truly the "Year of the Big East" -- and I confess my bracket goes long that it is -- the Committee did what it could to help push that along.

Last year's "all 1-seed" Final Four was, in my opinion, terrible for the sport and terrible for the Tournament. (The only thing that saved it was the novelty that it had never happened before.)

I am stunned at how few upsets I have predicted, particularly in the first round. (I don't think I have any beyond the non-upset 9-over-8, 10-over-7 and 12-over-5.)

Let's hope that at least a few non-power-conference teams defy the bracket and create some unexpected drama. "Chalk" is not what anyone wants from the NCAA Tournament.

-- D.S.


Ted Hill said...

Dan, the ball don't lie. If these Cinderella teams are good enough, then they will upset people because the draw doesn't matter. VCU has a good chance I believe of taking down a UCLA team that isn't as good as usual, just like they beat a not as good as usual Duke team a couple years ago.

CJ said...

I don't get this sentiment. Wouldn't a chalk result be validation for the committee? The goal is to place teams who are better in a game against a team they should beat.

And I think you're overthinking things if you believe the committee was consciously trying to get rid of mid-majors by either forcing them to play each other or potentially facing a #1 seed in the 2nd round.

This is probably the weakest mid-major year for bubble teams I can ever remember.