Monday, March 15, 2010

How bad seeding by the Selection Committee helps the NCAA Tournament experience

I am of the persuasion that Dan Guerrero and the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee deliberately mis-seeds the four regions to some degree in order to generate upset possibilities.

Think about it: If they were to seed everybody where they ought to be, the chances of early round upsets would go way down, because the legitimately best teams would play the legitimately weakest teams in the early rounds, leading to boring opening rounds like 2004, where there were only two "upsets" and both were wins many saw coming due to underestimated seeding for mid-major talents in Pacific and Manhattan, against legitimately seeded but beatable teams (in Providence and Florida). The media brayed about the two upsets but couldn't put a shine to a predictable slate of opening round games. It was one of the best jobs the Selection Committee did of seeding the teams, because nearly all of the seeded favorites won their early games. And the end result was one of the more boring tournaments in recent memory.

So in essence, while people howl and complain at erroneous seeding, it does in effect seed the tournament for upsets, if not in the early rounds then in the later rounds as the underseeded 4-8 seeds make what seems to the casual observer like Cinderella runs but are in fact legitimate runs by good teams that the Committee underseeded.

This is not to say that every underdog team that makes a Cinderella run is in fact an underseeded giant. But many are: Many don't realize that George Mason in 2006 was a legitimately good 23-7 team that got in at-large and was probably more of an 8-10 seed than an 11 before their miracle Final Four run.

Coming up is a look at the four regional brackets and see who's got a gift seed, who got shafted with a bad matchup and who's got a chance to make a deep run.

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