March 12 was Selection Sunday, one of the biggest days in the sports calendar, and as usual, there were a handful of things the selection committee got wrong.
For one, the Big Ten teams seemed to have zero consistency when being seeded. Secondly, Wichita State, who is widely regarded as a top-25 team in the country, is a No. 10 seed. Thirdly, Villanova gets matched with potential powerhouses Wisconsin and Duke, even though they are supposed to have the easiest path to the Final Four as the top overall seed. And finally, Syracuse was snubbed.
The biggest issue with the 2017 Selection Committee was unquestionably the lack of consistency when seeding the Big Ten. Purdue (No. 4) deserved a high seed because of their regular season conference championship. However, Wisconsin (No. 8) finished second in the regular season and was the runner-up in the Big Ten Tournament. And somehow Minnesota (No. 5) and Maryland (No. 6) were seeded above the Badgers when they all had 8-9 losses, while Wisconsin was 3-0 against the Golden Gophers and Terrapins, and finished above each of them in the Big Ten standings.
It makes no sense to have Greg Gard’s crew behind four other conference opponents. Michigan (No. 7) could have been seeded slightly higher because of their 5 straight victories and Big Ten Tournament title. But Michigan State (No. 9) is far too high. Yes, the Spartans (like always) have a difficult non-conference schedule but they were 2-6 against ranked foes, as well as losing to Northeastern, Penn State, and Illinois. With 14 (!) losses, this team should have been seeded a No. 11 at the absolute highest.
Wichita State, who went 17-1 in conference, and has won 15 straight games, was seeded as a No. 10 partly because of their lack of wins over major conference opponents in the first half of the season. They went 2-3 against power 5 teams, with wins over LSU and Oklahoma. It’s far from the most impressive resume a team has put together, but with the way they have been playing, their back-to-back beatdowns of Illinois State, and the history of Gregg Marshall in the tournament, the Shockers should be at minimum a No. 6 seed.
Villanova, the defending champions, and No. 1 overall seed has earned the right to have the easiest path to Phoenix. They are supposed to be matched with the worst No. 8 and No. 2 seeds so their route is not as difficult as other No. 1 seeds. Instead, the Wildcats could be faced with No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 2 Duke in the Elite Eight. It seems unfair for the Selection Committee to match Jay Wright’s team with two preseason top-10 foes before the Final Four.
Lastly, Syracuse should be in the tournament. If the committee is looking at losses then how are Michigan State (19-14) and Vanderbilt (19-15) seeded so highly? If they are looking at ranked victories, then how does Syracuse’s wins over Florida State, Virginia, and Duke not equate to an at-large berth? Obviously someone’s bubble had to bust but why did Syracuse’s instead of Kansas State, Providence, USC, Wake Forest, or Xavier?