Well, the 68-team NCAA Tournament field has been revealed in full, and you know what that means: it’s 1) time to fill out brackets; and 2) time to get angry about various injustices! First things first, the bracket itself. Here’s a link to it. And even more importantly…
And now, with that out of the way: controversies! What will people be angry about, now that the field, and the teams who didn’t make the field, are set? Here are a few options:
Maybe there actually won’t be that much outrage. This bracket went pretty much according to how most people who study this sort of thing thought it would:
First time I can remember that the bubble teams lined up exactly w/ bracketology consensus. No surprises.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 17, 2013
We know what you’re thinking: consensus? Agreement? Boooooo-ring! Well, don’t worry: there are still some choices plenty will question – and have already questioned. Things like…
1) Miami not getting a 1 seed. The Hurricanes won the ACC’s regular season title, and by virtue of an 87-77 win over North Carolina today, won the conference tournament as well. How wasn’t that enough for a top seed? Well, the Hurricanes aren’t far removed from a stretch where they lost three out of four – and two of those were bad losses, to Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, who each went 6-12 in ACC play. Additionally, they lost to Indiana State and Florida Gulf Coast earlier in the year (FGCU did make the NCAAs, though, albeit as a 15 seed). Plus their main competition for the last No. 1 seed was Gonzaga – and the Zags are, after all, the No. 1 team in the land. A questionable, but understandable move.
2) Not much respect for the Pac-12. Oregon finished second in the Pac-12 during the regular season – one game behind conference winner UCLA. The Ducks followed that up by winning the conference tournament, and finished the season 26-8. They even got a win against UNLV – a 5 seed in the Dance – during non-conference play. Oregon was rewarded for all that with a 12 seed. So was Cal, which tied Oregon’s 12-6 Pac-12 mark. Colorado got a 10 seed. Arizona and UCLA tied for the conference’s best NCAA selection showings, each getting a 6 seed. Maybe the Pac-12 didn’t have its best year, but those are some mid-major-esque seeding numbers. (Good mid-major numbers, though, so there’s that.)
3) Middle Tennessee made the cut, regular Tennessee didn’t. Yeah, the Blue Raiders have to win a
play-in first-round game against Saint Mary’s to reach the part of the tournament everyone cares about, but they at least have that chance despite getting only one top-50 win during the year. The Vols, meanwhile, improved greatly in the latter portion of the year, and boasted a win over Florida and a blowout of then-No.-25 Kentucky. However, Middle Tennessee went 19-1 in conference and beat SEC tournament champ Ole Miss in non-conference play. Plenty were happy – or at least not surprised – they made the cut:
Thank you committee for putting Middle Tennessee in.
— Dana O’Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) March 17, 2013
Middle Tennessee. Knew it. All about the NC SOS.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 17, 2013
— CBSSports.com (@CBSSports) March 17, 2013
See, we told you there was less controversy than usual.
4) First round rematch. This is something everyone can agree was a less-than-optimal result. The early rounds of the tournament stress novelty, new matchups we didn’t see during the season. So what are UNLV and Cal, who met on Dec. 9, doing in a 5-12 game? Well, according to the selection committee, it was the “best [they] could do.” Well then we DEMAND YOU “DO” BETTER, DAMMIT.
5) Kentucky goes from NCAA champ to a bursting bubble. This one isn’t a controversy so much as a noteworthy development – earlier on the year the Wildcats, while clearly far weaker than last season’s dominant squad, at least looked like they ought to make the 68-team field without a problem. Then… this happened. Nerlens Noel’s torn ACL meant that any NCAA bid was an uphill climb, and it proved too much for them to surmount. They followed up Noel’s injury with a blowout loss to Tennessee, and while a win over Florida last weekend made things interesting, an early SEC Tournament loss to Vanderbilt sealed Kentucky’s fate. Better luck next year, Team Calipari.
And… there you have it. Fill out those brackets. Get mad at stuff. Have fun. Feel crushing disappointment. But don’t turn away. March Madness is here in full.
Getty photo, by Streeter Lecka