The final team in the March Madness bracket had yet to be revealed and the second-guessing had already started.
Whether it was debating whether Duke really deserved to be a No. 2 seed? Why were Michigan and Iowa State in the field while Texas A&M and Southern Methodist were on the outside looking in?
There is so much to debate and so little time.
Let’s check the latest news, stats, injury reports, and March Madness Odds. We’ve plenty of predictions for you to consider.
Starting at the Top
The easiest decision that the NCAA selection committee had was to put Gonzaga and Arizona as No. 1 seeds. Even if UCLA had held on to edge Arizona in the Pac-12 final, the Wildcats deserved to be on the top line in one of the regions. Kansas also made it clear that it belonged as a top seed after winning the Big 12 Tournament.
The final No. 1 seed was a little more challenging after both Baylor and Kentucky failed to reach the conference tournament title game which is not something those making March Madness predictions saw coming. Baylor, despite some struggles down the stretch, went 18-6 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games, and the defending national champions were rewarded as a No. 1 seed.
“Feel very good about what our committee’s done over the past few days and throughout the year.”@TheAndyKatz sits down with the Selection Committee chairman @_TomBurnett on the #MM365 pod as they break down this year’s #MarchMadness bracket 🔍
Full 👉 https://t.co/z0LYQd7yBm pic.twitter.com/gugReQPk1Z
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 14, 2022
Duke, Providence Getting Too Much Love?
How a team finishes is supposed to have a key role in the seeding. Duke ended the regular season by getting lit up at home by rival North Carolina in the final game the Mike Krzyzewski would coach at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils hardly redeemed themselves in the conference tournament with narrow wins over a Syracuse team playing without its leading scorer and Miami. Unranked Virginia Tech defied the March Madness odds and did what the Orange and Hurricanes could not by winning the ACC tournament.
The ACC went most of the season with one team (Duke) guaranteed to make the tournament field and yet to weakness didn’t hurt the Blue Devils. Despite ranking 12th in NCAA NET ranking and 15 tournament teams having more Quad 1 wins than Duke, the Blue Devils found themselves as a No. 2 seed.
Duke is tied for the sixth-best odds to win the national championship which is right in line with a No. 2 seed.
Perhaps an argument could be made for SEC Tournament champion Tennessee or Big 12 finalist Texas Tech to move up from being a No. 3 seed.
The bigger decision was how Providence landed as a top 16 seed. The Friars not only didn’t win the Big East tournament but were destroyed by Creighton in the semifinals. Looking at the stretch run, the Friars struggled to beat St. John’s and Georgetown, and looked nothing like a team that should be seeded fourth. The Las Vegas odds list Providence at +15000 to win the national title, making them one of the highest priced No. 4 seeds ever.
Providence ended up 32nd in the NET rankings and many of the Friars’ 14 Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins came early in the season. One challenge faced by the committee was having UConn in as a No. 5 seed when the Huskies advanced as far as Providence did in the Big East tournament, the Friars were ahead of UConn in the conference standings and won the head-to-head matchup.
Last in, Last out — Lasting Impressions
The eye test said that Texas A&M deserved a spot while it is a valid question to pose about whether a 17-14 team deserves an at-large bid.
Texas A&M won eight of its last 10 games and after taking out Auburn and Arkansas, there were calls for the Aggies to make the field even after falling to Tennessee in the SEC title game. Nobody would have put up too much of a protest if the Aggies made it but February losses to Missouri, Louisiana State and Vanderbilt proved to be too much to overcome.
The Aggies were 4-10 in Quad 1 games and had two Quad 3 losses so the committee decided that the complete body of work didn’t warrant inclusion in the field and looking closer at the numbers, it seems like a reasonable conclusion.
Michigan in the field and Michigan State as a No. 7 seed feels like a reward to a remarkable season in the Big Ten. The college basketball spreads have Michigan tied for 20th at +12500 to win the national title while Michigan State comes in at +25000.
The Big Ten didn’t get a team seeded either first or second but the selection committee made up for it by the way it seeded some of the teams with some questionable results.
Michigan State went 5-9 in Quad 1 games and was 6-8 in February and March and yet earned a seventh seed. A 17-13 Michigan team was an enigma, especially to those who bet online, all season long. Losses to Minnesota and UCF had to be red-flagged by the committee and a loss to Seton Hall didn’t help either. A dominant win over Purdue and victory over eventual Big Ten Tournament champion Iowa landed on the positive side of the ledger, but the reality is that the Wolverines’ complete body of work didn’t warrant an at-large selection.
Indiana getting in as a No. 12 seed and getting a First Four matchup with Wyoming is another ode to the depth of the Big Ten. At least Indiana showed something in the conference tournament with wins over Michigan and Illinois.
Iowa State was a great story when the Cyclones won their first 11 games and the first loss was a spirited effort against reigning national champion Baylor, but Iowa State lost its last three games and seven of the final 11. Back-to-back losses to West Virginia and Kansas State are indefensible, and there certainly were more deserving teams than the Cyclones.
Committee Gets Passing Grade
There are certainly places to nitpick, but looking at the decisions or the teams who got in and were left out, it was a pretty solid effort by the selection committee where upsets were happening on a weekly basis, and some absences due to COVID-19 still needed to be accounted for.
This was not the easiest of chores and for the most part, the field of 68 shook out as it should have. If the tournament is anything like the unpredictable regular season that just concluded, buckle up because it should be a fun ride.
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