Which Teams Got Jobbed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee?
This was a weird year where not many teams were deserving of getting into the NCAA tournament. Still, there are snubs in the bracket.
Every year, the NCAA Tournament selection committee makes a few decisions that almost everyone disagrees with. Like last year, when the committee selected Tulsa even after Tulsa's own players said they weren't going to make the tournament. Those kinds of picks snubbed more deserving teams, like Monmouth and St. Bonaventure.
But this year is a bit different. This year, everyone was bad. That's not hyperbole: It's hard to be too upset about some of the teams that missed out this year. Even their own fan bases aren't upset. Syracuse missed out? Well next year, don't lose by 29 to St. John's. Iowa was one of the first four out? Not even the biggest Hawkeyes fans thought their exclusion was an injustice.
There are still a few teams that have some legitimate gripes, though. Let's talk about the biggest snubs from the committee.
I don't think Illinois State is that good, because I don't really think any of the bubble teams this year were that good. However, there's a case for selecting the Redbirds over, say, Kansas State.
Illinois State plays in the Missouri Valley Conference, so it doesn't get to prove itself against top teams. However, the Redbirds handled their entire conference schedule, only losing twice to Wichita State—in Wichita and in the MVC Tournament. They lost to some inferior teams—San Francisco and Murray State among them—but that's bound to happen to any team that plays an underwhelming schedule.
Teams like Iowa and Syracuse had better wins, but they'd already gotten a chance to prove themselves on a bigger stage and failed to adequately produce. Illinois State lived up to expectations on the small stage. Why not give the Redbirds a chance to do the same thing in March?
No. 10 Wichita State
Wichita State is also an MVC member, but the Shockers were guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament after winning their conference tournament. Somehow, they ended up as a 10-seed.
This is almost certainly because Wichita State doesn't have many good wins, but the Shockers have played extraordinarily well against weak competition. It's generally hard to compare teams from big and small conferences by looking at just their wins and losses, but we can tell how their performances compare by looking at margin of victory—and the Shockers dominated the Valley.
The NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, doesn't use margin of victory in its evaluations, so the selection committee is unable to see just how dominant of a team Wichita State really is. According to KenPom.com, which does use margin of victory, the Shockers are the eighth-best team in the country and should be a two-seed. Instead they're a 10. That's some major mis-seeding.
No. 6 Southern Methodist
Another small conference team, another snub. Despite playing in the American Athletic Conference, SMU has been one of the best teams in the country down the stretch, and the Mustangs can absolutely play with anyone. They will be a 6-seed in the same region as 3-seed Baylor, despite being ranked higher than Baylor, and 11th overall, in KenPom.
Want an upset pick to go far in the tournament? SMU is underseeded and has the potential to make a run.
No. 11 Kansas State/Wake Forest
Both Kansas State and Wake Forest are breathing sighs of relief to even be in the NCAA Tournament, but both deserve to be higher than the play-in game. Kansas State was the last team in, while Wake Forest was the fourth-to-last team in, and they will meet in Dayton to have the chance to advance to the round of 64.
However, even though they've fallen short in some key games, they have played well enough to receive better seeds. They have 15 non-play-in at-large teams behind them in KenPom, including No. 5 Minnesota. The winner of this one could make a run, because both deserve to be in the real tournament, anyway.
No. 8 Wisconsin
Just kidding. Beat someone, Wisconsin, then we can talk about snubs.
This is everyone's favorite snub pick, as the Badgers were expected to be a 6-or-7-seed. However, they didn't deserve a better grade. They have only one KenPom top 25 win in five tries, and their best road win is at Marquette. Wisconsin is a fine team, but the Badgers hardly beat anyone this year and certainly weren't snubbed.