Seton Hall

Seton Hall, the Big East's tenth-worthy team were left without a date to the dance. Photo courtesy William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

We’ve had a night and a morning to digest the bracket the selection committee has given us. No matter who you are rooting for, 68 teams are now in and the rest are not. It’s that simple.

But I wouldn’t be a sports fan if I didn’t question how some things ended up. Here’s a piece-by-piece look at some critical storylines following the selection show yesterday evening.

Tournaments Schmournaments

There seems to be a bit of a duality when judging how teams perform in their conference tournaments. If you look at schools like N.C. State and Texas, it’s very clear that they probably wouldn’t have made the NCAA tournament without relatively successful conference tournament runs.

Yet, the flip side of that coin is how the committee seeded ACTUAL conference champions. Three of the four top seeds left their conference tournaments trophy-less. And while I can’t make an argument for Kentucky and Syracuse NOT being #1 seeds, it came out during the special “Hardcore Brackets” show that Kansas was the fifth seed when seeding the entire field 1-68. So, in other words, if Michigan State had lost to Ohio State, we would have a championship-less top line across the brackets. If we’re going to reward the likes of Florida State with a 3-seed for winning the ACC, where is Missouri’s love for winning the Big 12?

Iona Spot in the Tournament I Don’t Deserve

Selection Sunday’s big shocker was Iona. That’s EYE-OWN-UH for those of you that have never heard of them before. So how did the Gaels get into the tournament? Surely, it must’ve been their stellar winless record against the RPI Top 50! No? Okay.

The fact of the matter is Iona got in because they were ranked 40th in the RPI. I can say that because there is literally NO other reason to let them in. In 25 wins, Iona beat only three tournament teams and they were all automatic bids that would not be dancing without clinching those automatic berths. They also failed to beat Marshall and Purdue who could’ve easily become their two best victories.

My real question is, if you’re going to give this spot to a Mid-Major team, why not Drexel? Yes, their RPI is down at 66, but they also beat the only RPI Top-50 team on their schedule in the regular season (VCU). Both Drexel and Iona won the regular season title of their respective conferences. The difference here is that the CAA, even in a down year, was a lot more competitive.

Also, if you want to talk about bad losses, Iona lost to Siena and Hofstra who both have an RPI Ranking OVER 200. Drexel’s worst loss, on the other hand, was Delaware, who has an RPI ranking of only 152.

RP I Don’t Get It

So by letting Iona into the tournament the Selection Committee sent a message that RPI DOES matter, right? Maybe not.

Harvard, who was ranked nationally at times this year, was given a 12-seed. Colorado State was given an 11-seed. Harvard and Colorado State have an RPI ranking of 35 and 30, respectively. Pac-12 champion Colorado, who likely doesn’t make the tournament without stealing that automatic berth, also got an #11 seed. Their RPI? 62. Huh?

If I could sit down with the selection committee, I would love for them to explain to me why Colorado is better or equivalent to Colorado State and Harvard. Even CAA champion VCU had an RPI ranking of 39 and they too received a 12-seed. Sure, the Ivy Leaguers have plenty to celebrate with their first tournament appearance since 1946, but being given a 12-seed certainly put a damper on that party.

Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Despite somewhat successful conference tournament runs, Miami, Mississippi, Oregon, and Seton Hall all missed the big dance. Miami lost to ACC Champion Florida State. Mississippi lost to SEC Champion Vanderbilt. Oregon lost to PAC-12 Champion Colorado. Seton Hall lost to who? Yup, you guessed it: Big East Champion Louisville. Do you see where I’m going with this?

None of these teams lost BADLY to the eventual champion but were snubbed nonetheless. And N.C. State, who lost to ACC non-champion UNC, got in. I sure hope these four schools were amongst the first out of the tournament because otherwise this selection committee has some ‘splainin’ to do.