Hello, college basketball fans! A fellow bracketologist annually puts up a list of many of the projected NCAA brackets made before the NCAA field is officially determined. You can see this list at the Bracket Matrix.
Brackets are scored then as to how close they match the actual NCAA brackets. This however assumes that the NCAA Selection Committee is "right". Of course there really is no "right", different people have different opinions. I believe Missouri State and Harvard got screwed but hardly anyone else agrees with me. So, if we are going to critique the Selection Committee, it is best in my opinion to compare with the consensus on the Bracket Matrix. All together, there were 89 brackets listed in the matrix. If the field of 68 was chosen based upon Bracket Matrix brackets, three teams that made the NCAA field would not have been in.
Virginia Tech was chosen on an amazing 87 of 89 brackets. Colorado was chosen on 81 of 89. According to the Matrix, these two teams by far have the biggest gripe. These snubs have to be among the biggest to not make the field in the history of Bracket Matrix. The other biggest snubs since 2006 were Missouri State in 2006 (21 of 23), Cincinnati in 2006 (20 of 23), and Syracuse in 2007 (29 of 30).
The other team that missed the field was St. Mary's. Of all the teams that made the Matrix final bracket, St. Mary's was the one chosen on the least number of brackets (49 of 89). Based upon numbers, bracketologists were very divided as to whether or not St. Mary's should have made the field. However, St. Mary's was the third team that was chosen by a majority of brackets in the Bracket Matrix that did not get into the actual field.
By contrast, during the last two seasons no team that was chosen by a majority of brackets missed the field. In 2008, Illinois State was chosen by 33 of 53 brackets but was not chosen. Other "snubs" in addition to those stated above were Hofstra in 2006 (13 of 23) and Drexel in 2007 (16 of 30).
As for the teams that did get in the NCAA field, USC was chosen by just 29 brackets (the most, however, of any team that did not make the Matrix final bracket). VCU and UAB, according to the Matrix, were the least deserving teams in the field (15 for VCU and 11 for UAB). Other historically questionable picks in Bracket Matrix history were 2006: Utah State (1 of 23) and Air Force (1 of 23), 2007: Arkansas (5 of 30), and 2009: Arizona (8 of 61).
The good news is that at least all three of the teams that "didn't deserve" to make the field have to play a "First Four" or play in game. It is pretty safe to say that had there been a 64 team field USC, VCU, and UAB would have not been chosen. Some people say expanding the field could eliminate arguments as to who got in. I think it made things even worse this year. I can't speak for the rest of the Matrix, but the four teams that were chosen for the least number of brackets were St. Mary's, Georgia, Clemson, and Colorado so the assumption would have been those four would have not been chosen for a 64 team field and Colorado would have been the last team chosen for a 65 team field (of course had it been a 65 team field and not a 68, Colorado probably doesn't get chosen for 81 of 89 brackets). Take out these four teams and the four "First Four" teams, Bracket Matrix would have missed on Georgia and would have had Virginia Tech in. So essentially the additional four (or three as compared to last year) have been a negative and only fueled more of an argument as to who belonged in the field as compared to the last three seasons.
One of my personal critique on the selection of teams was how can you put Georgia into the field after they lost twice to Alabama (in the last game of the regular season and in the tournament)? My colleagues and the NCAA did not agree. Alabama was chosen on only 28 brackets but Georgia was chosen on 66. If all 89 of us were in a room somewhere, the most argued teams would have been St. Mary's, Georgia, and Clemson (69 brackets) as well as USC and Alabama. Actually, there was a pretty huge gap between St. Mary's (last team in) and USC (first team out). I usually find a much closer gap than that. Of course, the Selection Committee "got it wrong" by putting in USC ahead of St. Mary's (not to mention UAB and VCU).
In terms of seeds, the Selection Committee picked all of the Matrix's top 4 seeds. There was a pretty solid consensus. Duke was chosen in 78 of 89 brackets and Pitt was chosen in 77. Believe it or not, there was one bracket who did not have Ohio State as a #1 seed! If you go by those scores, Kansas would have been the #1 overall seed but since Pitt would have been the #4 overall seed, the Final Four matchups would have been the same. I think the consensus was clearly Ohio State and Kansas were the top two and should have been in different halves.
The team which got the most number of votes for #1 seeds among non #1 seeds was Notre Dame. They were the 5th choice (#1 on 20 brackets). San Diego State was chosen as a #1 on two brackets, North Carolina on one, and Syracuse??? on one (the same bracket did not have Ohio State as a #1).
As for the #2 seeds, Florida had by far the fewest # of votes for a #2 seed (only 16 chose Florida as a 2). Ironically, the team that beat them in the final, Kentucky (and my personal choice for the last #2 got only 6 votes). The last #2 according to the Matrix would have been Connecticut by a narrow margin over Texas. UConn got 44 votes as a #2 and Texas got 43! Other #2's would have been Notre Dame, San Diego State, and North Carolina.
When I put together my bracket, I thought the 3's and 4's were very close and hard to distinguish between. The Matrix thought the same way. The only clear cut #4 was Wisconsin (only one bracket chose Wisconsin as a #3). Florida was a 3 but 18 people had them a #4 (to balance the 16 that had them a #2). Here are the differences between the 3 and 4 seeds, in order:
#3 seeds: BYU (51 #3's to 34 #4's), Kentucky (45 to 36)
#4 seeds: Syracuse (33 #3's to 51 #4's), Purdue (34 to 52), and Louisville (30 to 55) - All three of them received significant support for 3 seeds.
This season had pretty much a consensus as to the Sweet 16 seeds. The gap between Wisconsin and the highest 5 seed was huge and the Selection Committee "correctly" picked all 16 Sweet 16 seeds this year.
Teams seeded 2 or more places above their Matrix seed: Michigan (10 vs 8), Butler (11 vs 8), Illinois (11 vs 9), Georgia (12 vs 10)
Teams seeded 2 or more places below their Matrix seed: Old Dominion (7 vs 9), Missouri (8 vs 11), Marquette (9 vs 11), and Utah State (8 vs 12!)
By far, Utah State was the most screwed. 8 was the most chosen seed by Matrix voters (40 of 89). No one had Utah State a 12 seed. Four brackets had Utah State as an 11 seed and 7 had them a 10 seed. In addition to the 40 votes for #8, 25 other had USU a #9 so 65 had them in the 8-9 game. Obviously #12 seeds face much tougher 1st round opponents but it usually is a lot easier to make the Sweet 16 as a #12 than and 8 or 9. If the Aggies lose their first game, they can curse the Committee. But if they are still dancing next week, they should probably thank the Committee.
Overall, seeding was pretty reasonable by the Committee. Then again, if I had a choice between poor seeding and excellent team selection and poor team selection and excellent seeding, I would much rather them mess the seeding up. This is again according to the Matrix being right. But I personally would rather trust 89 bracketologists than 10 AD's/commissioners to choose the NCAA field.
Thanks to all the bracketologists out there. Looking forward to the NCAA Tournament and to next year. It's nice to see I'm not the only bracketologist out there. In 2006, there were just 23 brackets. This year, there are 89.