Each year when the bracket is revealed, it seems like everyone has a gripe with something the NCAA Tournament committee did. (Usually it came against their favorite team.)
But as the 2017 tournament field was announced Sunday evening a funny thing happened: There really wasn’t all that much to complain about. With three of the four No. 1 seeds essentially locked up Saturday night and few bubble teams with strong resumes to back their tourney cause, it was a relatively quiet Selection Sunday.
Still, there are a few teams that have legitimate gripes with the committee. Here are five:
Maybe it’s because people don’t like John Calipari, or maybe it’s because Kentucky simply makes for compelling (and highly-viewed) TV. But it seems like Wildcats’ fans always think they end up with the toughest possible draw when the brackets are announced. And at least this year, they’ve got a leg to stand on.
The Wildcats’ draw appears to be by far the hardest of any top-four seeded team, as they will likely have to beat Wichita State, UCLA and North Carolina… just to get to the Final Four. The matchup with UCLA – which was playing for a No. 1 seed this weekend in the Pac-12 Tournament – seems like an especially cruel potential matchup. The Bruins won at Rupp Arena back in December.
Like UCLA, the Ducks were potentially playing for a No. 1 seed at this weekend’s Pac-12 Tournament. But after losing in Saturday night’s title game, they instead got put on the three-line in the Midwest, where a Sweet 16 matchup with Louisville and an Elite Eight showdown with Kansas (in Kansas City) could wait.
Part of the Ducks' fall to a No. 3 seed has to do with a season-ending injury to star center Chris Boucher, who tore his ACL in a Pac-12 semifinal matchup with Cal. It left the committee in a precarious situation of having to judge the Ducks based on what their team could look like in the Big Dance without Boucher.
Still, a No. 3 seed feels tough for a team that went 29-5 overall, won the Pac-12 regular season title and lost in the conference title game.
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It was a down year in the Big Ten, but it didn’t seem to impact most of the league’s teams come Selection Sunday. Regular season champ Purdue ended up as a No. 4 seed, Minnesota got a No. 5 and Maryland was slotted in on the six-line. The one exception? Wisconsin, which ended up as a No. 8 seed.
That seems like a peculiar – and frankly, unfair – plunge for a team that finished with a respectable 25-9 record and tied for second in the league with a 12-6 mark. Not to mention that the Badgers advanced to the final of the Big Ten Tournament before losing to Michigan.
The reward for all that? A potential second-round matchup with the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats.
USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
Illinois State Redbirds
With such a soft bubble, there really weren’t many teams who could legitimately complain about being left out of the field on Selection Sunday. The one exception may be Illinois State, which went 27-6 overall and 17-1 in Missouri Valley play. Their only regular season loss was at Wichita State back in early February. (They also lost to the Shockers in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.)
Virtually all the Redbirds' problem came from scheduling. Outside of themselves and Wichita, there wasn’t anything resembling a legitimate team in the Missouri Valley, with two teams finishing in third place at 9-9.
How much should the Redbirds really be punished because the Missouri Valley was down? It was out of their control how talented everyone else was, and to their credit, they took care of them all anyway. The Redbirds did enough and should have been in.
Still, Duke does have a minor gripe. With the NCAA Tournament moved out of Greensboro to Greenville, South Carolina (because of North Carolina’s bathroom laws), it means that the Blue Devils could have a potential second-round matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks in their home state. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of the “pod system,” which was implemented several years ago.
Of course there’s a reasonable chance the Blue Devils won’t get South Carolina at all, so this could end up as a minor gripe if there ever was one.