The NCAA tournament selection committee doesn't have an easy job. But considering the euphoria of playing in the Big Dance and how critical matchups are for advancing to the second weekend, well, the cast of decision-makers isn't getting off the hook that easy.
While the committee got a good chunk of things right on Selection Sunday — bubble teams Arizona State and Oklahoma making the field because November and December legitimately matter and a majority of the top seeding lines on point — there's plenty of nitpicking to go over from 2018's pairings.
Here's a look at five things the selection committee got wrong.
1. Syracuse is not a tourney team. Not even close.
The Orange do not belong in the field of 68. Perhaps last year's snub and 2016's Final Four run following the program's bubble inclusion were in the back of their heads. Whatever the case, it's head-scratching to rationalize this resume over the likes of USC, Middle Tennessee and even fellow ACC teams Notre Dame and Louisville.
The Orange’s best win came against Clemson late in the season, but outside of that victory there wasn't a ton of eye-raising material. ‘Cuse (20-13, 8-10) did have four Quadrant 1 wins and a top-20 non-conference strength of schedule — clearly features the committee valued.
2. West Virginia and Texas Tech could have switched No. 3 and No. 5.
The Mountaineers should have been a protected seed -- on the No. 4 line -- at the very least. Heck, their profile was good enough to possibly be ahead of Texas Tech, which snagged a No. 3 seed. WVU had better overall credentials and beat TTU twice. Maybe it was three losses to Kansas that the committee pinpointed.
3. Gonzaga didn't deserve that No. 4 seed, sorry.
Listen, the 'Zags have had a nice season in a horrible mid-major conference, the West Coast (that's why Saint Mary's got snubbed despite a 28-win profile). But the fact of the matter is there were just better teams on the No. 5 line that should have taken that spot. West Virginia is one of them. So was Kentucky, which looked really impressive in cutting down the nets in the SEC tournament championship on Sunday. Think about this: WVU played in the country's best RPI conference and UK played in the fourth-best RPI league. Gonzaga played in the nation's 13th worst conference. No non-conference schedule (the 'Zags beat Ohio State, Texas and Creighton) can make up for that.
4. Creighton and Florida State were overseeded big time.
The Bluejays probably didn't even deserve to be in the field of 68, but a correct seeding line would have been No. 10 or No. 11. How the committee came up with No. 8 is perplexing. Did that Villanova victory count twice? Same story with Florida State, a team that realistically should have been one of the last teams in the field based on a horrendous non-conference strength of schedule of 314. A No. 9 seed? Really? St. Bonaventure, which drew a No. 11 seed after a solid season in the Atlantic 10, should have undoubtedly taken one of those better seeds.
5. Florida and Houston should've been higher than No. 6.
Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise for these teams that they didn't end up on the No. 5 line, where No. 12 seed Cinderella upsets are more frequent than the No. 11 line. But still, what was the committee looking at here? Did it not watch Houston's AAC tournament showing, in which it knocked off Wichita State and went toe-to-toe with Cincinnati? And the Gators, which bowed out early in the SEC tournament, still had a résumé worthy of a No. 5 based on nine Quadrant 1 wins.
NCAA tourney language explainer
- Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 RPI teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 RPI; Away games vs. 1-75 RPI
- Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 RPI; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 RPI; Away games vs. 76-135 RPI
- Quadrant 3 wins, losses: Home games vs. 76-160 RPI; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 RPI; Away games vs. 136-240 RPI
- Quadrant 4 wins, losses: Home games vs. 161-plus RPI; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus RPI; Away games vs. 241-plus RPI