Year two of bracketiatry is now complete. I am pleased to say that I was the 4th most accurate bracket contributor on the web based upon the bracket matrix (Matrix)!! I also continue to learn things about the selection process, some new to me this year and some that I picked up on in time for this year's bracket.
NCAA Selection Committee Commandments
1. Thou shall place an ACC team on the #1 line if at all possible. A lot of talk leading up to the bracket centered around whether Duke would get a #1 seed or whether the Big East would garner two. Once Duke made the finals of the ACC tournament, I don't think the selection committee blinked an eye at it the rest of the weekend.
2. Thou shall never have Duke or North Carolina play a regional outside of their home state. Pittsburgh, the overall #3 seed, is closer to Cleveland than to Washington D.C. In order to have one of the 16 vs 16 play-in games played on Thursday, Pittsburgh was moved to Washington D.C. (albeit just an extra 100 miles). The overall #4 seed Duke, could also have moved just 100 miles to play in D.C. instead of Charlotte, but of course, they received preferential treatment.
3. Thou shall ignore the results of Sunday Conference Tournament games unless a surprise automatic bid is on the line. North Carolina and Florida were beaten soundly but were able to maintain their placement on the #2 line. Why? Even 3 hours before the big reveal is too late to start shifting teams on seed lines. There are two many dominoes that fall every time you move a team. While I listened to this commandment and left these teams alone, I broke this rule and switched BYU and Kentucky around after the Wildcats impressive win. Never again.
4. Thou shall never seed a team from the Colonial Athletic Association higher than 8. Old Dominion had one of the best mid-major resumes in recent history but garnered only a #9 seed. I agree my assessment of a #6 was a bit over-zealous, but I deemed their resume to be more impressive than Xavier and Temple out of the Atlantic 10 who were sure to get top 7 seeds. Beyond that, can anyone explain how they are the #9 and Butler the #8 within their own game? Old Dominion's resume dwarfs Butler's.
5. Thou shall always put Virginia Tech on the wrong side of the bubble. I have no argument for their inclusion in the tournament, but it seems no matter what they do, Seth Greenberg can't get them in. Schedule harder-check! Beat a top team-check! Win an ACC tournament game against a fellow bubble team-check! Get left out of the dance once again-check!!
6. Thou shall include two mid-majors in the first-four games in the middle of the bracket. I had a gut feeling on this one, just made the wrong call between St. Mary's and UAB. With the expansion of the tournament by three teams, the committee would have looked like Big 6 propagandists if the play-in games were USC-Virginia Tech and Clemson-Colorado. In my opinion, I am all for giving deserving mid-majors this chance.
7. Thou shall be lazy in seeding teams despite having the entire weekend. My biggest beef here is with the two potential Big East vs Big East 2nd round games. I know with 11 Big East teams the rules no longer applied. Still, to move one of the 6 seeds up or down a line and have Marquette be a 10 or 12 are not hard changes to make. I dealt with this for 6 weeks of bracketing. It is not overly difficult.
8. Thou shall ignore zero top 50 victories if such team is from the ACC. Clemson has zero top 50 wins. They had 6 chances, including blowing a big lead against North Carolina in the ACC semis. If you think about it, there are 18 teams seeded 13 or lower that are basically the automatic bids from mid to low major conferences. That means the top 50 teams receive the rest of the automatic and at-large bids. Clemson has proven they cannot beat these teams. Yes, Colorado had 12 chances, but were successful 5 times, including road and neutral wins against a 5 seed. Furthermore, Clemson beat only two teams in the field, Florida State and Wofford, both at home.
9. Thou shall make some unusual geographical decisions. If I am Syracuse, the prospect of playing the 6 seed Xavier in their home state does not seem advantageous. I understand only top 4 seeds are to be protected, but St. John's drawing Gonzaga in Denver and Washington getting Georgia in Charlotte are two other examples of site advantages for lower seeds.
10. Thou shall create the most exciting 3 weeks of the year. With all that is said above, the committee does a wonderful job at providing a tournament matched by no other. I now look forward to the bracket filling itself out.