2018 March Madness Bracket Preview: Why the Committee Needs Help

On Sunday, the NCAA committee revealed their top 16 seeds at this point during the season. In a crazy year where no one team stands out as a clear-cut favorite, differing opinions on the committee’s decisions were inevitable. Yet somehow, the committee didn’t just botch the top 16, they completely messed it up. The committee could have done better if they closed their eyes and picked names out of a hat. The top teams read as so:

  1. Virginia
  2. Villanova
  3. Xavier
  4. Purdue
  5. Auburn
  6. Kansas
  7. Duke
  8. Cincinnati
  9. Clemson
  10. Texas Tech
  11. Michigan State
  12. North Carolina
  13. Tennessee
  14. Ohio State
  15. Arizona
  16. Oklahoma

Hm… where to start.

Let’s start with the one seeds, Virginia Villanova Xavier and Purdue. Virginia and Villanova each lost this week and the committee decided they’d rather put the Cavaliers at the top spot than the Wildcats due to the impact of the losses. Each team now checks in with two losses on the season but Virginia’s overtime loss on Saturday to Virginia Tech is viewed as a quality loss vs Villanova’s loss to Saint John’s. This decision is acceptable. Xavier also has all the makings of a one seed, with just three losses on the year, one of which was to Nova. Then there’s Purdue, who last week could have been in the consideration of a number one seed. This week? Absolutely not. Purdue lost not once, but twice this week, losing to two Big Ten contenders in Michigan State and Ohio State. Yes, these are two top 15 teams in the country but teams like Michigan State, Auburn or Cincinnati are just as deserving as the last one seed. Purdue should be a two after a tough week.

Speaking of two seeds its time to address two of them. Auburn and Cincinnati are appropriately placed at their two slots but the other two teams are not. Any other year, Kansas and Duke would be shoe-ins for at least a two seed. This year? Not so much. Duke has lost three of their last five to UNC, Saint John’s and Virginia and also were taken down by Boston College and NC State earlier in the year. With five losses and recent struggles, Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley Jr haven’t led their team to a two seed. Kansas is even worse. Kansas has lost two of its last three games to unranked teams in Oklahoma State and Baylor. Starting last week at 10 on the AP top 25 rankings it is difficult to see them maintaining that position again this week.With six losses on the season, Kansas is a shock at the two seed.

The three seeds are the most appropriately placed out of all four. Clemson and Texas Tech have both had strong years with a few quality wins each. North Carolina has had its ups and downs but with a recent win over Duke, they still have enough firepower to propel them to a three seed. Michigan State is the problem here. Unlike the other two groups, Michigan State shouldn’t be lower than they are ranked, rather higher. Much higher actually. Michigan State was ranked as the fourth best team in the country according to the Associated Press and did nothing over the past week to ruin that rank. The Spartans have only lost three times all season and all of those teams, Duke, Michigan and Ohio State, were ranked within the top 20 in the AP rankings last weekend, each only padding their resume this week. Michigan State should certainly be higher than Duke and Kansas, two teams struggling of late and the case can be made for them to be higher than Purdue after narrowly defeating them on Saturday. Michigan State could easily be the number one team in the country on Monday when the Associated Press releases their rankings.

The four seeds included Tennessee, Ohio State, Arizona,¬†and Oklahoma. Tennessee is appropriately placed as they have had a strong season. Ohio State has a few quality wins that could lead them to a three seed before the year ends. Arizona and Oklahoma, on the other hand, were a surprise. Arizona seriously lacks quality wins and although projected top draft pick Deandre Ayton is leading the team to wins, the Wildcats have only beaten two ranked teams all year. Oklahoma is a team that is incredibly fun to watch but has also dropped six of their last eight games. Trae Young hasn’t been able to carry his team enough to save them from a recent dip and the Sooners definitely don’t deserve to be a top team.

Somehow, the committee managed to completely underrate Michigan State and completely leave out Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, two teams that are looking like surefire contenders come March. Hopefully, they get it right by March as this season is shaping up to be one of the most predictable March’s in a long time.


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