After the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Bracket has been revealed, there are already complaints about those that have been left out, and opinions about unfavorable positioning. In a previous article, the author, Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports, also does a great job discussing why the 5 border teams, including TCU, Texas, and Indiana, could have easily made it but did not. Looking at their records we see too many losses (particularly in-league) though the strength of their schedules are very high. Here’s Mr. Eisenberg’s reply to the bracket:
It’s as much an annual part of Selection Sunday as Charles Barkley picking Auburn to go to the Final Four.
Once the brackets are unveiled, the complaining begins.
The NCAA tournament selection committee unveiled its bracket Sunday evening to mixed reviews, especially in East Lansing, Michigan. Here’s a look at some of the things the committee got right and some of the things it got wrong:
WHAT THEY GOT WRONG: MICHIGAN STATE IN DUKE’S BRACKET
When Michigan State rallied to defeat rival Michigan in Sunday’s Big Ten title game, many thought the Spartans might have done enough to secure the NCAA tournament’s final No. 1 seed.
Not only did they have to settle for a No. 2 seed, they also landed in the worst possible spot on that seed line.
Michigan State is the No. 2 seed in overall No. 1 seed Duke’s bracket, maybe the most baffling decision the selection committee made this year. For the purpose of balancing the regions, the Blue Devils should have been awarded the worst No. 2 seed, and it’s difficult to rationally argue the Spartans are that.
In addition to winning a share of the Big Ten regular-season title and its conference tournament, Michigan State (28-6) amassed 13 Quadrant 1 victories, more than any other team in the nation. The Spartans swept three games from rival Michigan, defeated Wisconsin twice and won single games against the likes of Purdue, Maryland and Florida.
Was that enough to claim a No. 1 seed? No. Michigan State’s case was hampered by a trio of surprising losses at the hands of Illinois and Indiana.
Was that enough to not be the worst No. 2 seed? You better believe it. After all, one of the other No. 2 seeds was the Michigan team the Spartans beat three times this season.
The most confounding part of all this is that the selection committee apparently agreed Michigan State was not the last of the No. 2 seeds. The Spartans were sixth overall on the 1-to-68 seed list the NCAA released, yet they still got stuck with Duke.
Ultimately, the fact that Michigan got a more favorable draw should be especially galling for Michigan State.
The Wolverines landed in the West with Gonzaga, apparently the last of the four No. 1 seeds. Meanwhile the Spartans were paired with Goliath, the Duke program that is 11-1 against them during Tom Izzo’s tenure.
WHAT THEY GOT RIGHT: PUTTING BELMONT IN
Belmont shouldn’t have been the only one celebrating its surprise at-large bid Sunday night.
It was important for the sport of college basketball that for once the selection committee chose to award a deserving mid-major bubble team instead of allowing teams from the big conferences to gobble up the last available at-large spots.
For the past few years, the committee has valued the number of top 50 or Quadrant 1 victories teams have above all else during the selection process. That inherently hinders mid-majors who play in weaker leagues and can’t cajole marquee teams into scheduling them in November and December. And it inherently favors power-conference teams who face many top opponents each year and only have to beat a few of them.
Of the 36 NCAA tournament bids awarded to at-large teams in 2018, all but three went to programs hailing from the five football power leagues, the Big East and the American Athletic Conference. Same with the year before. And the year before that.
Belmont’s being sent to the First Four certainly doesn’t halt that trend, but it at least counts as incremental progress. The Bruins had the strongest résumé among a group of mid-major bubble teams that also included UNC Greensboro, Furman and Lipscomb.
While Belmont didn’t get many chances for marquee wins, the Bruins took advantage of the few they did have. The Ohio Valley Conference co-champs went 26-5, including a win at UCLA, a sweep of fellow mid-major bubble team Lipscomb and a road win at Murray State.
- : 03/17/2019
- : Jeff Eisenberg