Bracketology: Duke's No. 2 seed, Texas leaving A&M out were mistakes by NCAA Tournament selection committee

Bracketology: Duke’s No. 2 seed, Texas leaving A&M out were mistakes by NCAA Tournament selection committee

We finally have a bracket. The NCAA Tournament selection committee came out with its field of 68 on Sunday and as usual, it was a mixed bag – some good and some head-scratchers.

Teams that get left out of the NCAA Tournament always gave the selection committee a reason to leave them out. That said, I have difficulty understanding how Texas A&M was left out in favor of at least Indiana and Notre Dame, the last two teams in the field.

The summary comparison with Indiana shows two very similar teams, which Texas A&M having edges in a couple of key areas. They are better away from home and better against tournament opposition. Indiana has five losses outside of Quad 1, while Texas A&M only has two. They have the same number of Quad 1 wins, but the Aggies are a little better. They both beat Notre Dame and lost to Wisconsin, although Indiana did so twice.

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I’m not saying Texas A&M should be in and Indiana out. Indiana was not the last team in the field. I’m just saying that if Indiana is in, TAMU should be as well.

The committee had the Aggies as the third team out, behind Dayton and SMU. I had them in my bracket and missed on Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have a very weird resume, so I don’t really have a problem with them getting in. They set the record for the lowest rated team in the NCAA’s metric of choice to get an at-large bid at 77 in the NET. The previous record was 74 in the RPI by New Mexico in 1999.

I also cannot explain how Duke is a No. 2 seed. The Blue Devils resume is softened by playing in a weakened ACC. They did beat Gonzaga and Kentucky, which are both great wins, but the Blue Devils only have six Quad 1 wins, fewer than every team on the top three lines of the bracket except Arizona. They have 12 Quad 1 and 2 wins, matching Gonzaga for the least among the top 12 teams. And finally, they have four losses outside of Quad 1, equaling Wisconsin. The other ten teams have four such losses combined. Duke also has the weakest overall schedule of any team in the top 12. It’s like the committee just looked at them and decided they were better despite evidence to the contrary.

SEC Tournament champion Tennessee and Texas Tech would have been better candidates for a No. 2 seed than Duke.

The committee had one tough situation to wrangle with regarding the Last Four In. Those teams were, in order, Wyoming, Rutgers, Indiana and Notre Dame. Normally, they pair the top two and the bottom two and seed them in the bracket where they belong. In this case, that would be a No. 11 and 12. However, since Indiana played Notre Dame in a non-conference game, they switched the Hoosiers with Rutgers. Then, due to conflicts trying to get those pairings and the other No. 11s and 12s in places where they fit within the bracketing rules, the committee had to switch the No. 11-seed pairing with the No. 12-seed pairing. That is why Wyoming-Indiana is a 12-seed and Rutgers-Notre Dame is a No. 11.

NCAA Director of Media Coordination and Statistics David Worlock said getting those first four pairings bracketed was as challenging as he could recall.

I’m just happy that this season, we get to have a normal tournament again. Exciting games, we hope, in front of big crowds. Good luck to your team. Unless of course, they are playing mine.

Check out Palm’s bracket on the Bracketology hub