Recent progress halted: Part 2

MarquetteHoops.com's Matt Zuchowski has done a two-part story trying to explain Sunday's remarkable performance by the selection including connections to why Air Force, Utah State, and George Mason made the field. In this, Part 2, Matt addresses the puzzling seedings.

The selection of the 34 at large teams was not the only puzzling decisions the selection committee made. The manner in which they seeded teams also turned many eyes, and resulted in a poorly constructed field as a whole.

The cases of Tennessee and UCLA have already been documented, but they are just two examples among a litany of poor decisions in seeding this year's Field of 65.

Even though they finished three games behind Marquette and Georgetown, and four games behind West Virginia, Syracuse's run in the Big East tournament must have meant more than a 16 game regular season. While the Orange's overall profile warranted a higher seed than Marquette, it does not compare with Pitt's, seeded on the same line as Syracuse, and West Virginia and Georgetown, seeded a line and two lines below the Orange respectively.

Also, despite not having near the resume of teams seeded below them, apparently Nevada warranted a five-seed. The irony that the WAC commissioner served on this year's committee the same year a WAC team received their highest seed since 1999, even though Nevada had one profile win, at Kansas back when the young Jayhawks were struggling.

While many people think they got too much credit, the numbers show that Missouri Valley actually has been shafted, especially when considering their seeds, with only Wichita State as a seven-seed a fair indication of where these teams belonged. Northern Iowa, a team with out of conference wins over a three, four and nine seed, got rewarded for their performance by being placed at least one seed line lower than they deserved, and matched up against a Georgetown team themselves under seeded a line or two.

Then you have Southern Illinois, who beat NCAA Tournament teams Kent State and Murray State out of conference and finished tied for second in the number six rated conference and proceeded to win their conference tournament. Their reward, an 11 seed, two or three lines lower than they deserved, and a first round match-up versus an under seeded West Virginia team.

Finally, a Bradley team that has seven top 50 wins and finished the season on a roll got rewarded with the worst seed for an at large, a 13, and a first round match-up with one of the tournament's hottest teams, Kansas, who many pundits believe will make the Final Four. What makes this seed even rougher for Bradley is the fact that less qualified teams George Mason, San Diego State, Kent State, Utah State and Montana all have higher seeds and more favorable first round match-ups.

Should the Missouri Valley lose three of their four first round games like expected, people will complain that they received too many bids and there will be backlash when the Valley has multiple teams deserving at large bids in future years. However, considering the fact that three of these teams did not receive fair seeds, and the fact that two are facing under seeded teams, that claim be as much of a fallacy as the match-ups that these three teams are facing.

Hopefully this year will just be an aberration, and the seeds and selection of teams will match what both statistical tools and common sense believe. Still, if the favoritism exists in future years like it did this year, one of America's favorite sporting events will become a shell of its former self.


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