March 14, 2011
There are 11 Big East teams in the 2011 NCAA tournament, an unwieldy number that made it impossible for the selection committee to adhere to its normal tradition of spreading out teams from the same conference so they couldn't play until the Elite Eight. With more than eight Big East schools, such a practice would be impossible.
Even with 11, it stood to reason that the committee would at least keep Big East teams from playing until the Sweet 16. Between making reasonable seeds*, protected status for top four seeds and numerous other factors, it wouldn't have been a simple fix, but it was doable.
* And it's not like the committee showed it valued seeding all that much this year. I mean, Michigan is a No. 8 seed.)
Nothing is too easy for this committee to screw up, though:
There are two potential Big East games in the second round of the tournament, Syracuse vs. Marquette and Connecticut vs. Cincinnati. Both would be rematches of games from earlier this year and ones that people don't particularly want to see.
As far as tournament errors go, this one isn't on par with expanding to 68 teams or snubbing Colorado or putting UAB into the field. It's just sloppy. The selection committee plans for months for the NCAA tournament and it couldn't even figure out how to separate 11 teams until the round of 16?
It just took me three minutes of looking at the bracket to solve this problem: Swap Cincinnati (No. 6) and Temple (No. 7) in the West and Marquette (No. 11) and Michigan State (No. 10) from their respective regions and, voila, no second-round Big East rematches. With a few more minutes, I'm sure it would have been easy to come up with a half-dozen changes just like this.