I don’t even know where to start I’m so shocked. No way did the though even cross my mind that Syracuse would not get into the tourney when that Selection Show started. But a half hour later I needed an explanation. You can cut the numbers five ways from here to Sunday, RPI, road record, last 10, record vs. Top 50, quality wins, and so on. If you try hard enough you can probably make a case for and against each of the teams that competed for those last 5 or 6 spots. Unfortunately the committee showed no consistency in their selection criteria. Arkansas used a strong conference tournament to overcome a mediocre conference record and lack of quality wins, while Xavier’s overall body of work was enough to overcome its low RPI, but apparently Syracuse’s quality conference wins, including a thumping of #2 seed Georgetown only two weeks ago, and a fifth place finish in a conference that received 6 bids, were not enough. Apparently in their case the committee decided to look at the early season schedule more. Bottom line, there is no way Syracuse is not as good as the last 5 teams that made it. Yeah, they had some bad losses, yeah their non-conference schedule leaves something to be desired, but are they better than Stanford, Purdue, and Illinois? You bet.
Syracuse was not alone though. People are crying about Drexel, and the overall lack of Mid-Major at-large bids, down to only 6 this year after as many as 12 in recent years. The other big name that deserved a spot is Kansas State. They blew out a solid Texas Tech team, had some quality wins, and play in a very good conference, better than the SEC and Big 10, but NIT it is. And I would also make a case for West Virginia. If not for a bad officiating job, they may get past Louisville in the Big East’s, and who knows from there.
The committee is not off the hook yet. They did a sub-par job with some seeding as well.
Without going to detailed, Louisville is better than a 6 seed. The ACC is overrated across the board with Duke, BC, and Virginia all a few slots higher than they played. Texas is playing better than a 4 seed. That’s going to be a tough break for UNC if they meet. I don’t know about Vandy as a 6 either.
Overall, the committee’s primary mission is picking the last 5 or so at-large teams and getting the seeding right since the other at-large teams are usually clear by this time. In my mind, they failed this year with some extremely questionable selections for the last few at large slots. Honestly, I have a hard time seeing these big conference, bubble teams that received at-large bids do anything in this tourney. Time will tell.
Now, onto analyzing the teams that did make it…and counting down to tipoff.