After a topsy-turvy regular season – top-five teams were upset 37 times, including 21 times to unranked foes – the postseason could be just as crazy. In fact, it already has been, as only 10 top seeds won their conference tournaments.
When upsets happen, there’s Selection Sunday anarchy. This year was no different.
“Well, I was disappointed (with the brackets) to be quite honest with you – for a few reasons,” Slam Magazine college basketball analyst Leigh Klein said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “First and foremost, when we went from 64 to 68 teams making this tournament, the hope was we were going to reward the little guy, that we were going to give four programs an opportunity to get at-large bids and be able to change their trajectory to be the next Wichita State, be the next Gonzaga. That only happens when programs at the mid-major level get an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. So what we’ve done instead is we continue to reward power-conference mediocrity and allow a Vanderbilt and a Michigan (to get in the tournament). And then for some reason, the committee loved the American Conference this year and took three at large teams from the American Conference. Instead of taking a Monmouth or a (Valparaiso) or a Saint Mary’s, they rewarded the American Conference teams, which, to me, didn’t play great basketball for most of the year. So I was a little disappointed. I was hoping that some of the little guys would get a chance. Instead, they’ll be in the NIT.”
Indeed, Syracuse, Michigan and a couple of other undeserving teams will be dancing. Monmouth, Saint Mary’s and others, meanwhile, were left without a prom date.
“Tickets, tickets, tickets,” Klein said. “It’s all about brands in college sports. These are brands, and brands sell. That’s why they place North Carolina in Raleigh and Villanova in Brooklyn and then maybe in Philly. The opportunity is to be able to sell the tickets. At the beginning part of the bracket, everything is really exciting those first four days. But once your bracket blows up, like most of America, you got to have sort of the teams that people know left standing in order to keep the fair-weather fan interested in college hoops for this month. So I think there’s a lot of pressure in that regard. The NCAA is walking a fine line. We’ve seen what happened with college football. The power conferences kind of took the ball and are doing their own thing. They don’t want that to happen in basketball.”