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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Five things the selection committee might have gotten wrong

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

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Did red-hot Memphis deserve better than an 8-seed? (AP)

We live in an age where everything is criticized. Everyone has a voice. Everyone has an opinion.

That's what makes this year's NCAA tournament field of 68 so tough.

There's not all that much to criticize.

The selection committee pretty much nailed it in terms of who should be included, where everyone was placed and who they were matched up against.

But, again, everything must be criticized to some extent.

[ Related: NCAA tournament bracket | Print it | Play Tourney Pick'em ]

Therefore, allow us some time to simply nit-pick here. These aren't things that are necessarily wrong with this year's bracket, but instead five things that, when forced to criticize, are the easiest targets.

1) Shouldn't the No. 1 overall seed not have the toughest journey to the Final Four?

Kentucky certainly wasn't done any favors. The Wildcats have easily the most talented squad in the nation, and will be a trendy pick to win the national title in bracket pools everywhere. But the potential pitfalls are more numerous for them than any of the other No. 1 seeds. By far.

The 8-9 game alone features the underachieving-yet-still-loaded defending national champs in UConn against Iowa State — the fourth-place team from the Big 12 which has one of the few big men in the country, Royce White, who could physically match freakish freshman star Anthony Davis.

Below that, there's mid-major powerhouse Wichita State, run-and-gun threats Indiana and UNLV, then blue-chippers Baylor and Duke. Oh, and in the lower portions of the bracket, you get some pretty intense double-digit seeds in the form of VCU, über-athletic New Mexico State and a one-time top-10 Xavier squad.

[ South Region bracket busters video: UNLV may be ready for a Sweet 16 run | Predictions ]

In terms of talent, this team might be John Calipari's best bet to deliver him his first national title. But, man, that's quite a road to traverse. Good luck, fellas.

2) The 8 seeds that shouldn't be 8 seeds

 

Memphis and Creighton fit that bill.

Yes, Memphis struggled to win big games in nonconference play, but it tore through its league schedule, losing only three games by a combined total of six points, and just won three games in its conference tournament by an average of margin of 25 points. The Tigers had a top-20 RPI and schedule strength, and only two losses outside of the RP top 50.

[ West Region bracket busters video: Watch out for Memphis | Predictions ]

Creighton's schedule wasn't as strong, but its RPI (25) is up there, too. Outside of a three-game skid in Missouri Valley play in early February, blemishes are hard to find. They were as consistently strong as a rising mid-major program could be.

Simply put: Both deserved better. Not much better, but better.

3) There's at least one "snubbed" team worth feeling sorry for

 

Poor Drexel.

The CAA regular-season champs won 19 straight games before falling to VCU in the conference tournament title game and went 27-6. But this was proof that the bigger picture can catch up to you in March, and what went wrong in the nonconference season doesn't automatically go away with a great conference season.

Especially when your schedule strength is 224.

A lack of quality wins was also glaring.

Still, was Drexel more deserving than, say, BYU, Cal, South Florida and Iona?

Maybe.

Meh.

[ Related: Drexel headlines list of biggest NCAA tournament snubs ]

4) Did Missouri deserve this much tougher a path to the Final Four than Kansas?

 

It's a matter of opinion when it comes to who was more deserving of the easier draw: Big 12 regular-season champ Kansas or Big 12 tournament champ Missouri?

Some thought Missouri was in contention for a 1 seed after winning the tournament on Saturday, but almost no one expected the 30-4 Tigers to check in as the No. 8 overall seed, which meant the tougher of the two paths to New Orleans.

While Kansas' pod is loaded with question marks, Missouri has to look at the likes of potentially Florida, Marquette, Murray State, Louisville, New Mexico, Memphis and Michigan State down the line over the next two weeks.

[ Midwest Region bracket busters video: Kansas can't sleep on Detroit | Predictions ]

Again, a matter of opinion. But the opinion here is that the positions should have been flipped between the two bitter rivals.

5) Pick one between Wichita State and VCU. Why? Because you have to

 

Last year, VCU became another Butler, making an epic run from play-in game to the Final Four, capturing the nation's collective heart in the process.

This year, many earmarked Wichita State as a potential filler in that role.

And now the two meet in the first round. Which is a shame.

[ South Region: Wichita State-VCU brings (mid) major fun to region dominated by Kentucky, Duke ]

It's mostly unfortunate because VCU probably deserved better than the 12 seed it received. But the match-up alone makes for a tough decision for John Q. Casual Viewer.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for RunRebs.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanmgreene.

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