Top Ten Selection Committee Errors (03/12/17)

By Rob Pizzola @robpizzola

Year in and year out, it seems like the NCAA Selection Committee gets it wrong. This year's NCAA Tournament seedings were some of the worst in recent memory. We went through the entire Tournament bracket and compared it to our Power Rankings to determine the ten most egregious errors made by the committee.

#10 - USC should not have received an at-large bid
It seems as though the final at-large bid was going to come down to USC vs. Syracuse, and we think the committee got it wrong. Yes, Syracuse had an RPI of 84. Yes, the Orange won just two games away from the Carrier Dome. But they also own victories over Duke, Florida State, and Virginia, and they would absolutely be favored over USC on a neutral court. Syracuse finished 41st in our end of season rankings and USC came in at 61st. The Orange deserved to get that final spot.

#9 – Arkansas (#8) is seeded too high
We're really struggling to see what Arkansas did to deserve being given the same seed as a Wisconsin team that is significantly better than them. Other #8 seeds, Northwestern and Miami FL, also finished at least ten spots higher than the Razorbacks in our final rankings. Admittedly, our model is a little bit lower on the Hogs than the Pomeroy Ratings, but Arkansas struggled with their defensive efficiency all season and should have probably been a 10 or 11-seed.

#8 – UCLA (#3) is seeded too high
Is UCLA a good team? Yes. They're a top five offense in terms of efficiency, and they amassed a solid 29-4 record in the Pac-12 this season. With that being said, they are not a top 12 team in the nation. The Bruins' defense leaves much to be desired, especially against the three-pointer, where they rank just 251st in the country. UCLA also struggles to get to the line, meaning that one poor shooting performance is more likely to do them in than it would a more balanced team. The Bruins are very good, but they're probably ranked a seed too high.

#7 – Rhode Island (#11) is seeded too low
The committee was never going to give Rhode Island a single-digit seeding, but that doesn't mean that they don't deserve one. Coming in at #29 in our final rankings, with the 22nd-ranked defensive efficiency, the Rams are a very solid squad. To put things into perspective, URI opened as just a 1.5-point underdog against six-seeded Creighton in their first round matchup. Dayton, a fellow Atlantic 10 squad, received a seven-seed, and there is a strong argument to be made that Rhode Island is a better overall team.

#6 – Butler (#4) is seeded too high
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Butler isn't one of the best 16 teams in the nation. Sure, the Bulldogs went 23-8 in the Big East, but when you stack them up against the other three four-seeds in this Tournament, they would be underdogs to all three (West Virginia, Purdue, Florida) on a neutral court. Butler has a good Tournament track record, having made back-to-back National Championships in 2010 & 2011, but that is completely irrelevant in regards to this year's Tournament. The Bulldogs probably should have received a six or seven-seed.

#5 – Oklahoma State (#10) is seeded too low
Records can be misleading. Oklahoma State's 20-12 mark isn't all that impressive, but when you factor in the fact that they faced the toughest schedule in the nation, that 20-12 mark looks pretty fantastic. The Cowboys are going to be in a pick'em range against a Michigan squad that just won the Big Ten Tournament, and frankly, it's a shame that one of those two teams will be going home since both were under-seeded. VCU is also a 10-seed and they sit 15 spots lower than the Cowboys in our final power rankings. Oklahoma State has the number one ranked offensive efficiency in the country (both by our metrics and KenPom metrics), yet they are a double-digit seed. Laughable.

#4 – Why is Kansas State playing a First Four game?
The Wildcats had a pretty rough stretch in late January and early February, but a victory over Baylor and a narrow one-point loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament was a strong way to end the season. Kansas State is better than more than half of this year's Tournament field, but they'll have to play in the First Four against Wake Forest. That just doesn't make any sense, especially when you consider that they accumulated a 20-13 record against an extremely difficult schedule. The Wildcats got hosed.

#3 – Maryland (#6) is seeded way too high
This is where we start to get into egregious territory. I almost spit out my coffee when Maryland was announced as a six-seed. Despite accumulating 24 wins this season, the Pins don't do anything well above average, and again, when you compare them to the other six seeds (and seven seeds and eight seeds) in this Tournament, there is a stark contrast. Coming in at #47 in our final rankings, we are shocked that the Terrapins are not a double-digit seed.

#2 – Minnesota (#5) is seeded way too high
We thought that the Maryland seeding was bad, but Minnesota's is right up there as well. A #5 seeding implies that the Golden Gophers are a top-20 team in the nation, but we have them ranked as the 45th-best team in the nation. The Gophers ranked 101st in our offensive efficiency ratings this season, while no other five-seed in this year's Tournament had an efficiency rating on offense or defense that was worse than 44th. Minnesota is going to be on upset alert against Middle Tennessee in the first round—a game where the Gophers could potentially close as an underdog against a 12-seed.

#1 – Wichita State (#10) is seeded way too low
We are not quite as high on the Shockers as the Pomeroy Ratings, which has Wichita State as a top ten team in the nation, but the Shockers being a double-digit seed could be the worst seeding we've ever seen in the NCAA Tournament. Sure, the Shockers play in the MVC where they aren't tested all that much, but even when we adjust for their strength of schedule, Wichita State ranks at least 24th in the country in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Mid-majors often get the shaft, so to speak, in Tournament seeding, and this year was no different.

Also considered: West Virginia is seeded too low, SMU is seeded too low, Creighton is seeded too high, Florida State is seeded too high, Iowa State is seeded too low, Virginia is seeded too low, Dayton is seeded too high, Wisconsin is seeded too low.