Greetings, Basketball Lovers!
I wanted to step back from the situation before posting my thoughts on the seedings and pairings for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. You see, I was simply incredulous (and at times demonstrably angry) while watching Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg unveil the brackets. My reaction was not due to Clark Kellogg’s disturbing orange tint, but really, what’s that about?
Anyway, here are a few items that jumped out at me last night:
- Duke somehow jumped ahead of West Virginia and Syracuse to become the 3rd overall seed. This was the first major head-scratcher last night. Syracuse has clearly been a top three team all season, right with Kansas and Kentucky. Somehow, they were punished by the committee for a close loss in the hypercompetitive Big East Tournament, and that loss was perhaps exacerbated by concerns about the injury to Onuaku. The injury concern is understandable, and at least the committee still gave Syracuse a one seed. But nobody who watched basketball this season thinks Duke is more deserving of the third overall seed than Syracuse.
- What’s perhaps worse, however, is the treatment Duke got relative to West Virginia. Both teams won their conference tournaments, even though Duke did not play a single team from the top half of the ACC in doing so. West Virginia had a better road record, more Top 50 wins, a better record against the Top 50, and a stronger schedule. Oh, and WVU played in a far superior conference. Bob Huggins seemed highly annoyed by the treatment his team received, and with good reason.
- In addition to WVU not being a 1 seed, it appears that WVU was treated as the 7th best team by the committee. Prior to the brackets being unveiled, the conventional wisdom was that the final 1 seed would be either Duke or WVU, and that Ohio State was the other “strongest 2 seed”. Then the brackets come out and we see that Ohio State is paired with the top overall seed, Kansas. West Virginia is paired with the 2nd overall seed, Kentucky. Thus, WVU has dropped from4th overall to…7th? And Ohio State – who destroyed Minnesota Sunday in the Big Ten finals – is the 8th overall? So much for the S-curve I guess, and so much for any semblance of consistency from the committee season-to-season.
- Kansas is the overall #1 seed, yet they get the toughest region by far? Kansas is the best and most complete team in the field. And it looks like they will have to prove just that, because the committee didn’t do them any favors in making the bracket. As mentioned above, the Jayhawks received one of the two strongest 2 seeds in Ohio State. They also have Georgetown, Maryland, and perennial tournament achiever Michigan State. The Jayhawks also drew the only teams to have defeated them this season in Tennessee and Oklahoma State. But at least Kansas will get to play the winner of the play-in game, right? No, the winner of Tuesday’s Arkansas-Pine Bluff/Winthrop game plays…yep, you guessed it: Duke. Do you see a trend here?
- Let’s focus on the South region for a moment, aka “The Region Syracuse Deserved But Didn’t Get”. TRSDBDG, by comparison to the other three regions, is quite frankly a joke. Villanova limped into the tournament and gets treated as the second strongest two seed. I will admit that a Pitino-Krzyzewski matchup in the second round has me salivating, but TRSDBDG has the weakest 4-5-6 spots of any region. Apparently Steve Wojciechowski picked the right committee member to fellate this year.
- Kentucky’s region is interesting to me. It’s not particularly tough, but it’s certainly not the cakewalk Duke was given. A Kentucky-Texas matchup in the second round is intriguing, because Texas does have the big men and the athletes to give Kentucky a game. It will also be a featured matchup of the premier “just roll the ball out” coaches in the game, so that should be intriguing. And if seedings hold up, Kentucky vs. West Virginia should be a phenomenal matchup between two teams of superior athleticism, two coaches of questionable ethics, and two fanbases of unfortunate teeth.
- Seth Davis remains an idiot.
I thought that overall, the committee did a decent job of putting teams in and leaving teams out; they just did a dreadful job of placing the teams they selected. Now, I don’t see how Wake Forest got in over Virginia Tech, and I’m not sure Florida was any more deserving than Mississippi State. But I don’t get too bent out of shape about “who’s in and who’s out” because let’s face it, bubble teams don’t win championships anyway. I’m more concerned with equitable and fair treatment of the teams once they are in. Dan Guerrero and company failed miserably in that regard.
Vince Vaughn’s character in Wedding Crashers perhaps said it best. When Owen Wilson’s character asked about the quality of the band who played a couple’s wedding reception, Vaughn said ” Who gives a shit? It’s a great band, it’s a bad band, it’s like pizza, baby. It’s good no matter what!” The same can be said for the NCAA Tournament. It’s the greatest three weeks of the year, even if the committee doesn’t have a freaking clue what it’s doing.