If history has taught us anything, it’s that we can expect the 2016 NCAA tournament to deliver the goods. From the moment the dance gets underway, we should prepare ourselves for the inevitable: big-time scorers, clutch performances, and the inevitable “One Shining Moment.” But before the games get started, it’s important to acknowledge one simple truth: This year’s selection process did not go smoothly.
Not only was the tournament bracket itself leaked ahead of time, but intense controversy surrounded some of the choices made by this year’s selection committee. While we’re sure opinions will vary on the matter, if you ask us, these were the five biggest screwups committed on Selection Sunday.
1. Vandy is anything but dandy
We’re sure the selection committee had its reasons for including the Vanderbilt Commodores in the field of 68, but we just don’t see it. After all, this is the same club that went 19-13 on the year, is tied for No. 60 in the RPI rankings, and had a 2-7 mark against RPI top 50 teams. On top of that, Kevin Stallings’ group had the 61st worst strength of record among teams that made it into the tournament. Not even an upcoming matchup against Wichita State in the First Four can change our opinion on this one. The committee got it wrong.
2. Kentucky got screwed with seeding
After defeating Texas A&M 82-77 in overtime to win the SEC tournament title, the Kentucky Wildcats had every reason to be excited. Then the NCAA bracket came out, and the mood in Lexington suddenly shifted. In a move that makes absolutely no sense, the Wildcats were given the No. 4 seed in the East Region, while the Aggies, whom they just beat hours before, managed to earn a No. 3 seed in the West Region. With potential showdowns against Indiana and North Carolina looming, we can certainly understand why Kentucky coach John Calipari would be less than enthusiastic about his team’s situation.
3. Tulsa’s inclusion makes no sense
Tulsa’s invitation to the NCAA tournament is so confusing that even the pundits have no explanation for it. The Golden Hurricane are 7-5 in their last 12 games, 4-5 against RPI top 50 clubs, and lost their last game — the quarterfinals of the AAC tournament against Memphis — by 22 points. Not even putting Tulsa in a First Four game against the Michigan Wolverines can make up for this terrible decision. When you consider all of the worthy teams that were kept out of this year’s dance, the choice to include the Golden Hurricane is just bad form.
4. Syracuse shouldn’t be dancing
Not only were the Syracuse Orange among the worst selections of this year’s NCAA tournament, but the fact that they were also given the No. 10 seed in the Midwest Region is an absolute travesty. Coach Jim Boeheim may have been forced to miss a few games this season because of a suspension, but that’s no excuse for Syracuse going 6-6 in its last 12 games and losing five of its last six contests. Plus, don’t even get us started on the fact that the Orange came in at No. 68 in the RPI rankings Any way you look at it, this is terrible.
5. Michigan State not a first seed
The Michigan State Spartans should’ve received a No. 1 seed. Plain and simple. Not only did Tom Izzo’s club capture the Big Ten tournament title, but it also finished No. 2 in the final AP Top 25 poll. We guess the selection committee has a problem with teams that finish with a 29-5 record, go 6-1 against RPI top 25 teams, and play their best ball of the year down the stretch. Surely, this slight won’t give the Spartans any extra motivation when the tournament tips off.