Three things the selection committee got right and three it got wrong

Three things the selection committee got right and three it got wrong

There's only one more time-honored Selection Sunday tradition than filling out an NCAA tournament bracket: Second-guessing the selection commitee's decisions. 

This year's committee did a good job with some aspects of the bracket but missed the mark on others. Here's a look at three things the committee got right and three it got wrong: 

What they got right: The fourth No. 1 seed

If the most difficult decision for this year's committee members was selecting the final No. 1 seed, then credit them for making an inspired choice. Big East champ Villanova (28-4) had fewer losses than Virginia and Big Ten champ Michigan (25-8) had more quality wins, but neither of them accomplished more than Virginia (28-6).

Besides No. 1 overall seed Florida, the Cavaliers were the only major-conference team to sweep both the regular season and conference tournament championships in their league. They won 19 of their last 21 games after a rocky non-conference season, defeating Syracuse, North Carolina and Pittsburgh in the regular season and avenging a previous loss to Duke in Sunday's ACC title game in Greensboro.

It would have been easy for the committee to have anointed Michigan the fourth No. 1 seed, win or lose Sunday, since the Big Ten tournament title game ended less than an hour before the selection show began. Instead the committee presumably took the time to build two brackets so it had a contingency plan ready when the Wolverines lost to Michigan State.

What they got wrong: The strength of the Midwest Region 

If Wichita State emerges from the loaded Midwest Region to reach the Final Four, nobody will be able to question the competition the Shockers faced anymore. They received a No. 1 seed as expected Sunday, but their reward for a 34-0 season was a region that's clearly the NCAA tournament's group of death compared to the other three.

A potential round of 32 opponent for Wichita State is eighth-seeded Kentucky, the preseason No. 1 team in the nation and a squad that appeared to right itself a bit during the SEC tournament when it ousted LSU and Georgia before falling to top-ranked Florida by one in the title game. The most likely Sweet 16 opponent for the Shockers is defending national champ Louisville, which ousted Wichita State in the Final Four last season and finished this season as well as any team in the nation. And should the Shockers somehow survive that, Big Ten champ Michigan and high-powered Duke are among the teams that could be waiting in the regional finals.

It will be fun to see Wichita State tested, but the committee did a disservice to all the teams in this region making it so much stronger than the other three. The Midwest Region features four current top 10 teams, former top 10 team Saint Louis and preseason No. 1 Kentucky. No other region has more than two teams in the top 10.

What they got right: Early-round matchups with compelling storylines 

It's hard to believe the selection committee pays no attention to storylines when it creates NCAA tournament matchups, and this year's draw is a perfect reason why. Between regional rivalries, mentor-pupil face-offs and rematches of previous classic games, there will be numerous made-for-TV contests during the opening weekend.

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Dayton-Ohio State will feature former Buckeyes signee Jordan Sibert leading the Flyers. UCLA-Tulsa falls on the 20th anniversary of the Golden Hurricane's upset of the Bruins in the 1994 NCAA tournament. Louisville-Manhattan pits Rick Pitino against longtime assistant coach Steve Masiello. And then there are a slew of potential in-state games in the Round of 32, from Villanova-St. Joseph's, to Nebraska-Creighton, to Wichita State-Kansas State.

The committee should never stray from its seeding principles to manufacture a storyline, but it doesn't seem as though it did this year. In that case, what's the harm in adding some juicy angles to spice up the opening weekend?

What they got wrong: Seedings for Louisville, New Mexico, Colorado 

One reason the Midwest Regional is overloaded is because the fourth seed in the region deserved better. Defending national champion Louisville went 29-5, won the American regular season and tournament titles and boasted an average margin of victory of 22 points in its 29 victories. The Cardinals' strength of schedule was mediocre and they only beat five RPI top 50 teams, but they were clearly too good to award a No. 4 seed and imperil a No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16.

Louisville was the most high-profile seeding mistake but certainly not the only one.

How does Colorado get a No. 8 seed when it went just 9-8 overall after leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie tore his ACL? Isn't a No. 5 seed a bit generous for a Saint Louis team that limped into the NCAA tournament losing four of five? And didn't New Mexico deserve a line or two better than a No. 7 after winning 27 games, defeating Cincinnati in non-league play and taking down San Diego State in two of three meetings to capture the Mountain West tournament title?

What they got right: 67 of the 68 teams in the field

Committee members have long acknowledged they spend more time on selecting the final at-large teams than seeding the field because a program can play its way out of a bad seed but it can't play its way out of not being in the tournament. That emphasis showed again this season because the committee did a fairly good job determining which bubble teams belonged.

The final six at-large bids awarded went to Dayton, Nebraska, Tennessee, Iowa, Xavier and NC State, per the committee's final seed list. You can quibble with the order in which those teams were placed, but it's hard to find snubs worthy of replacing any of those teams with the possible exception of surprise entrant NC State.

You want in next year, Minnesota? Finish .500 in your league. You too, Arkansas? Don't lose to Alabama and South Carolina to close the season. And you, Cal? Don't lose a must-win Pac-12 quarterfinal. In a field with plenty of mediocre teams, most of the bubble teams that missed the field have little to complain about.

What they got wrong: the 68th team (and BYU's placement)  

Judging from the reaction of NC State players to hearing their name called during the selection show, they were as surprised as anyone to make the field, and they should have been. Little about their profile suggested they were worthy of beating out an SMU team ranked in the Top 25 as recently as Monday or a Green Bay team that dominated its league and beat Virginia in non-league play but stumbled in the Horizon semifinals.

The four best wins NC State notched came against a fading Syracuse team, Pitt, Tennessee and Florida State, but the Wolfpack went just 3-8 against the RPI top 50. They also have three losses to teams outside the RPI top 100, one to NC Central, one to Wake Forest and one to Miami. With that many missed chances for marquee wins and that many bad losses, it would have been nice to see the committee reward the Mustangs or Phoenix for better seasons instead.

The other quibble I'd have related to the bubble teams is that BYU made the field so easily as a No. 10 seed. With 11 losses, including four to LMU, Pacific, Portland and Pepperdine, BYU figured to be far closer to the cutline. Throw in the season-ending injury to second-leading scorer Kyle Collinsworth, and the Cougars seemed a perfect candidate for Dayton.

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Jeff Eisenberg

is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!