When the NCAA tournament brackets were revealed last March, Oregon's modest seeding was one of the biggest surprises.
Twenty-six regular season wins and a Pac-12 tournament title earned the Ducks a No. 12 seed, partially because the committee grossly undervalued their achievements but also because bracket principles forced the committee to drop them a seed line or two. Oregon validated complaints about its seeding over the next week, toppling Oklahoma State and Saint Louis before falling to eventual champion Louisville in the Sweet 16.
There will always be teams with gripes about their seeding, but it appears the selection committee is learning from the Oregon example. According to ESPN.com, one of the main ideas to improve the tournament the committee proposed during its meeting in Utah this week was reducing the emphasis on bracket principles in order to protect each team's true seeding.
What that would mean is placing teams from the same conference in the same quarter of the draw or setting up potential regular season rematches to ensure teams are seeded as close to where they belong as possible. The lone exception would be BYU, which cannot play in a Friday-Sunday regional or feed into a Friday-Sunday regional final because the school does not play on Sundays.
While some will inevitably complain about seeing more early-round NCAA tournament games pitting teams that have played before, it seems as though the selection committee is doing the right thing here.
Having a 15-team ACC, a 14-team SEC and a 14-team Big Ten makes it almost inevitable teams from those conferences will wind up in the same quarter of the draw on a regular basis. Better to deal with those rematches than to mismanage parts of the rest of the bracket trying to avoid them.
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