The postseason is upon us, and as always happens in the hours after the NCAA Tournament bracket is unveiled, there are lots of opinions going around. What is perhaps most interesting of all is that there were plenty of complaints about the Selection Show itself, and understandably so.
To begin with, the show moved up to 5:30 p.m. That left very little buffer between the final conference championships and the show, which could have been a problem in the event of overtime in either game (that did not happen this time around). It also became a two-hour show, which is not inherently problematic. But it sure proved it. CBS spent a lot of time musing about the selections, then going over the number one seeds, and when commercials came, Twitter lit up with the complaints. Basically, CBS was a tease, taking more time than anyone hoped.
Understandably, most hoped the show would consist of unveiling the bracket, then spending time going over the field with the thoughts of those in the studio. Instead, after the slow start, it was one region at a time, then several minutes trying to pick the region, basically dragging the show out.
When it was finally over, there were many complaints as usual about seeding and, perhaps more than ever, who was in and who was out. And perhaps more than ever, each bubble team that got in should feel relieved, while each that didn’t should feel like they had a good case. The committee had a very tough job this year, because the bubble was so large. In addition, the four No. 1 seeds this year have the most combined losses (23) entering the NCAA Tournament in the history, topping the 20 that the four top seeds had in 2000.
The top four seeds in each region went as follows:
East: North Carolina, Xavier, West Virginia, Kentucky
South: Kansas, Villanova, Miami, California
Midwest: Virginia, Michigan State, Utah, Iowa State
West: Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Duke
The last four at-large teams: Vanderbilt, Wichita State, Michigan, Tulsa. All four will match up in Dayton, with Vanderbilt and Wichita State in one and Michigan and Tulsa in the other.
Notable bubble teams who didn’t make the cut were Monmouth, West Coast Conference regular season champion Saint Mary’s, Mountain West regular season champion San Diego State, Atlantic 10 regular season co-champion St. Bonaventure, South Carolina.
Adam Glatczak starts us off, and we have much more coverage to come. Stay tuned for players to watch in the NCAA Tournament, as well as a further look at the massive bubble this year.
Conference Tournament Round-up
The first game of the day was the Atlantic 10 championship game, where Saint Joseph’s ran out to a lead early, built it up later, then held off VCU’s attempts to rally to win their second title in three years by an 87-74 margin behind 30 points from DeAndre Bembry.
UALR was mentioned as a bubble team heading into the Sun Belt final, but took everything out of the committee’s hands by handling UL-Monroe 70-50 to claim the title.
The SEC championship game was what we have come to expect between Kentucky and Texas A&M: an overtime thriller. Both teams had chances in regulation, but were tied at 71. In overtime, Tyler Ulis (30 points, five assists) came up big at both ends to lift the Wildcats to their 29th SEC Tournament title by virtue of an 82-77 win over the Aggies.
One potential bid thief remained late into the day, and that was Memphis, who took on a UConn team that seemed fairly safe in the American Athletic Conference championship game. The Huskies ran out to an early lead, then staved off several rally attempts by the Tigers for a 72-58 win to take home the championship.
The final game before the Selection Show, as usual, was the Big Ten championship game, where Michigan State held off Purdue 66-62 behind a near-triple-double for Denzel Valentine with 15 points, ten rebounds and nine assists.
As if viewers’ annoyances with the Selection Show wasn’t bad enough, the bracket was leaked out on Twitter before it was revealed on television, which the NCAA is looking into. The NCAA released a statement, saying, “We go through great lengths to prevent the tournament field from being revealed early, and the NCAA took its usual measures to protect this from happening. Unfortunately and regrettably, the bracket was revealed prior to our broadcast partners’ having the opportunity to finish unveiling it. We take this matter seriously, and we are looking into it.”
The Atlantic 10 was clearly not happy about St. Bonaventure not making the NCAA Tournament. Commissioner Bernadette McGlade put out a statement making the case for the Bonnies, and also said she would talk to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to get a sense as to how they might avoid this result in the future.
The NIT field was announced later in the evening. The No. 1 seeds are Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, South Carolina and Valparaiso, and 15 teams were automatic qualifiers as regular season conference champions who did not win their conference tournament. This year, 20 teams fit that description in 32 conferences.
The 16-team CBI field was announced even later, featuring three teams from the Big Sky Conference and two each from America East and the Southern Conference. The championship is a best-of-three.
The CollegeInsider.com Tournament has been filling out its 32-team field gradually over the past week, with reports coming out about teams who accepted bids as well as a few first round matchups. Thus far, it shows just 13 first round games, accounting for 26 teams; you can find the first round schedule here (later rounds will be shown there as the page will be updated).
Coaching changes continued as well. TCU fired Trent Johnson on Sunday after four seasons at the helm and a 50-79 record. The really ugly number, however, is 8-64, which is the Horned Frogs’ record in Big 12 play during his tenure. Also, on Monday morning James Madison announced a mutual parting with head coach Matt Brady, who went 139-127 over eight seasons in Harrisonburg. You can continue to track coaching changes right here.
Postseason play gets under way with two games in the CIT, both featuring runners-up from conferences with historically black colleges.
- Jackson State heads to Sam Houston State in the early game (7:30 p.m.)
- South Carolina State travels to Grand Canton in the late game (10 p.m.)