Today is Selection Sunday! We made it!
Well, 68 teams did. Who they are will be revealed later this evening, and my final bracket will be revealed shortly. Here, though, are my big predictions:
–WICHITA STATE AN 11 SEED – The vast majority of bracketologists have Wichita State as a single-digit seed, with some even predicting they’ll get a five seed. While I won’t be surprised if they make the 8/9 game, I am going against the grain and predicting Wichita State will get a double-digit seed. I have the Shockers pegged at an 11. While they’re clearly a great team with just four losses, they also have only three top 100 wins (against Colorado State and Illinois State twice). With losses to Oklahoma State in Wichita (in a blowout) and Michigan State on a neutral court, how can a team with ZERO wins against the NCAA field deserve a single-digit seed? Don’t get me wrong, the Shockers are a nightmare draw for whoever gets them. But their resume says double-digit seed, and that’s why they’re at an 11 for me.
–GONZAGA A TWO – The Zags were a number one seed when the committee revealed their “bracket preview” a month ago. And very few bracketologists moved them off the one line after they lost at home to BYU. But I am once again going against the grain, and dropping the Zags to a two. Of course, Gonzaga boasts neutral court wins against Florida, Arizona, and Iowa State. But they also have much worse schedule numbers than any other one seed contender, and their home loss to BYU is the worst loss of any one seed contender.
–SMU A SIX AT BEST – Again, I’m sure my lower seeding will surprise many. There is no doubt the Mustangs are rolling, but I am hesitant to put SMU as high as some of my bracket brethren. While they have only four losses and are on absolute tear, they also have only one win against a really strong team (once over Cincinnati, who also finds themselves down in the five/six range). Additionally, SMU has the same issue Wichita State has – they didn’t get it done out of conference. USC beat the Mustangs, and SMU got smashed by Michigan on a neutral floor. Are they a six or seven seed I’d want to draw? No, but they really are getting a fair deal at a six or seven.
–VANDY IS IN EASILY – Many think Vanderbilt should be out because no team has ever made the tournament with fifteen losses. But the Commodores played the second-toughest schedule in the country and the nation’s toughest out of conference schedule. They also have a massive sweep of Florida, home wins over Iowa State and South Carolina, and a road win at Arkansas. Yes, they have an UGLY loss at Missouri (by 20!), but that sounds like a tournament team to me. I have them at an eight!
–SYRACUSE IS OUT – Right after the buzzer sounded on Syracuse’s loss to Miami in the ACC Tournament, ESPN color commentator LaPhonso Ellis indicated he had no doubt the Orange were going to make the NCAAs. Well, I have more than a doubt. I don’t think they actually will make the tournament. They beat Duke, Virginia, Florida State, Wake Forest, and Miami. No doubt, that’s impressive. But ALL of those wins were at home. They have exactly TWO wins outside of the Carrier Dome this season. That’s not just bad; that’s awful. In addition, they have a mid-80s RPI, a poor out of conference strength of schedule, and bad losses to Boston College, Saint John’s (by 33 at home!), and UConn. No, I won’t be shocked if the Orange make it, but I do not expect their name to be called by Greg Gumbel.
–RHODE ISLAND AND KANSAS STATE ARE BOTH IN – Both the Rams and Wildcats have some serious resume flaws, but I don’t think the committee has to take one or the other. I think both get in over Syracuse and Illinois. As you know, I’ve been high on Illinois’s chances. If the Illini make it, I’ll be kicking myself for not including them. But firing their coach makes that too nervy of a selection for me.