Now that the field has been set, USA TODAY Sports’ Nicole Auerbach examines the NCAA Tournament bracket and which teams have the best shot at making it to the Final Four.
USA TODAY Sports bracketologist Shelby Mast got 68 of 68 teams in the field correct on Selection Sunday, but definitely disagrees with the NCAA tournament selection committee on these decisions.
Three things the committee got right
1. No Syracuse
The Orange (18-14, 10-8 ACC) did more damage to themselves early in the season and despite the nice cachet of top-50 wins, there was just too much negative on their profile to be included.
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2. Vanderbilt higher than the play-in game
Regardless of the Commodores’ record (19-15, 10-8 SEC), they did exactly what the committee wants; they had the toughest schedule in the country and beat No. 4 seed Florida three times. They are deserving of a single digit seed.
3. Wichita State on the 10-line
Despite how good you may think the Shockers are (and they are good), they only had two top-50 wins, both were over Illinois State. The committee values and rewards teams who challenge themselves (see Vanderbilt) and have a multitude of top-50 wins, Wichita State met neither of these criteria. Statistics wise, it’s hard to tell how good they really are because the Missouri Valley Conference was so down this year.
Three things the committee got wrong
1. Duke on the No. 2 line
Nothing against Gonzaga but Duke has more top 25 RPI wins than any other team. Gonzaga is a worthy No. 1 seed, but the ‘Zags lack of competition compared to Duke is blatant even if it’s one loss to eight.
2. Louisville a No. 3 seed over Florida State
This goes against what the committee has been preaching – quality top-25 or top-50 RPI wins. Florida State has six top 25 wins compared to four for Louisville, included in FSU’s win over Louisville. This one is rather baffling based on the committee’s past habits.
3. Middle Tennessee as No. 12 seed.
This is a team that possibly could have been an at-large selection if needed, with a very solid résumé for teams of the Blue Raiders’ caliber; They should have been rewarded for scheduling tough and having a stellar record (30-4). They were ahead of Wichita State on a true seeding list.
2017 NCAA TOURNAMENT TEAMS