Every year, 32 teams get auto bids to play in the NCAA basketball tournament for winning their conference title. There are 36 other at-large teams that get selected by a committee to play ball in the best month of basketball of the year.
Like every sport, there are teams that feel like they won or lost out, based on their selection for the tournament. Here are a few of my winners and losers from Selection Sunday and going into the first four games this week.
Losers: Oklahoma State, Arizona, Louisville, Virginia, USC
Oklahoma State: Finishing 19-14 (6th in the Big 12), OSU looked to squeak into the big dance. After downing conference rival Oklahoma (who made it in as a 10-seed) twice and Kansas (1-seed in the MW region), OSU finished the season 6-6 against ranked opponents. Breaking even shouldn’t be rewarded with a bid, but the teams they beat, and when they beat them, should’ve earned the Cowboys a bid to dance. Instead, they’ll be playing in the NIT against FGCU wishing and wondering what could’ve been.
Arizona: In the midst of the bribery investigation, Arizona took a slight hit from the selection committee. They were too good to keep out of the tournament, but because they are under investigation, the committee wasn’t going to be nice to the team. Sitting as a 4-seed in the South region the Wildcats of Arizona will take on the 13-seeded Buffalo team. Finishing the season 27-7, and 8-1 in the last 9, the Wildcats will hope to leave the doubters behind and focus on winning when it counts.
Louisville: As another team involved in a NCAA rule violation/scandal, Louisville is feeling its impact. After finishing the season 20-13, the Cardinals looked to be set for a bid to dance. After news broke about the scandal involving prostitution and recruitment violations, Louisville was stripped of over 100 wins from the 2011-2014 seasons and multiple tournament wins, including the 2013 National Championship. Now, Louisville will be playing as a 2-seed in the NIT against Northern Kentucky, rather than dancing once more. Although these scandals are heinous, being stripped of a National Championship and 100+ wins is damaging enough to a program. Louisville was a good enough team to make the cut and play for a championship, but the committee thought otherwise.
Virginia: Yes, the Cavaliers are a 1-seed in the big dance. I still think they are a loser following Selection Sunday. The road to the Sweet Sixteen seems easy enough, but that game will not be easy for the Cavaliers. Inevitably, they’ll face Kentucky or Arizona, both powerhouse teams with more NBA talent than Virginia. The Cavaliers finished the season 31-2 including eight-straight to end the regular season and win the ACC tournament title.
USC: After finishing 2nd in the PAC-12, behind the 1-seed Arizona, USC is stuck in the NIT. With a record of 23-11, including a couple tough losses to Arizona (regular season and PAC-12 Championship game), USC earned themselves a 1-seed…in the NIT. Last season, USC earned themselves the 11-seed in the NCAA Tournament, beating Providence in the First Four game and moving on to beat 6-seed SMU before falling to 3-seed Baylor in the 2nd round. Now, after having the same regular season success, USC is faced with the harsh reality of the NIT.
Winners: Oklahoma, Arizona State, Villanova
Oklahoma: After losing to Oklahoma State (twice), the Sooners, led by star Trae Young, managed to earn themselves a 10-seed in the big dance. With a record of just 18-13, the Sooners were treated VERY well by the selection committee on Sunday. With a handful of decent wins, Oklahoma also had their share of bad losses. After starting the season 14-2, the Sooners ended the season 4-11. In the past, the selection committee took into consideration how the team played down the stretch, but apparently not for Oklahoma. Trae Young will have a shot at a deep run in the tournament and will prove himself as a good all-around player.
Arizona State: Finishing 20-11 this season, ASU will play in one of the first four games against Syracuse. Falling in 5 of their last 6 games, ASU was a big winner of Selection Sunday. Sitting at 8th in the PAC-12 conference, ASU had every chance to miss the dance. Instead, the committee gave them a chance, as an 11-seed, to prove their case in the tournament. Luckily for ASU, the selection committee took the entire season into account. ASU started the season 12-0, but finished 8-11, hurting their bid “stock.”
Villanova: Sitting at 30-4, and earning a 1-seed in the East region, Villanova has the easiest region to face. Ranked as the 2nd overall seed in the tournament, the Wildcats only real competition will come from Purdue, Wichita State and West Virginia. In the other regions, the top-seeded teams will face more challenging opponents. Kansas could face Michigan State or Duke, Virginia could face Arizona or Kentucky, and Xavier could face UNC or Michigan. An easier schedule could prove beneficial for the Wildcats of Villanova down the road in the big dance.
For the NCAA Tournament Bracket, click HERE
For the NIT Bracket, click HERE
To make your own bracket and compete in March Madness, click HERE
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