Today is the day that we have all been waiting for, the day that the NCAA tournament Selection Committee will announce the 68 teams that are in the NCAA tournament field.
Here are the toughest questions they are going to have to answer today:
1. DOES THE ACC DESERVE THREE NO. 1 SEEDS?
Entering Championship Week, Virginia looked like they were the odds-on favorite to be given the No. 1 overall seed, but after losing to Florida State in the ACC tournament semifinals as Duke cruised to the title, that isn’t a lock anymore.
At this point, it appears that the Blue Devils will end up being the No. 1 overall seed. Virginia should keep a No. 1 seed as well. They won a share of the ACC regular season title, they have the most Q1 wins out of anyone in college basketball and they beat Carolina in Chapel Hill. But North Carolina also has a strong case for a No. 1 seed, as they swept Duke and beat Gonzaga while playing a monster schedule without a single loss that is not a Q1 loss.
All three deserve a No. 1 seed, which begs the question …
2. … WILL GONZAGA STILL BE THE NO. 1 SEED OUT WEST?
The Zags looked like they were assured of being a No. 1 seed going into Championship Week, but that was before a loss to Saint Mary’s in the WCC tournament title game. That gave us an excuse to question a profile that just doesn’t have the same juice as the likes of Michigan State, Michigan or Tennessee. They are only 4-3 against Q1 opponents, and while they beat a full-strength Duke back in the Maui title game, their best win since then is … at Creighton? Washington? A 48 point win over Saint Mary’s?
Tennessee, if they beat Auburn in the SEC title game, will have a strong case at a No. 1 seed, as will either Michigan program that ends up winning the Big Ten title. Michigan State, in particular, will have beat Virginia for the most Q1 wins in the country if they land their third win over Michigan, and as dual Big Ten champs, that might end up getting the job done.
3. HOW DOES THE COMMITTEE VALUE THE NET?
The NCAA created this metric. They spent a whole bunch of money developing it, promoting it and doing what they can to prove that this is better than the RPI. So when it comes to making important decisions about who gets seeded where, just how much will they pay attention to NET rating? For example, will they consider that St. John’s has a NET of 72 when deciding whether or not the Johnnies deserve a bid over someone like Texas, who has a NET of 37?
4. WILL THE COMMITTEE RESPECT BELMONT’S RESUME?
As much as I want the bubble to be stocked with teams from the mid-major conferences, I have come to accept the fact that being as good as Lipscomb and Furman were this season — cruising in good leagues, winning big road games against tournament teams, losing to top 60 teams in their league tournament — will get no respect.
It’s the way of the world.
Belmont, however, appears to be the one team that actually has a chance this year. They are 2-1 against Q1 competition, they have five wins over the top two quadrants and they won at UCLA. They also have three unimpressive losses to their name. In the past, the committee has sided with the big boys that go 7-11 in their league over the mid-majors that people actually want to see in the tournament, and I fully expect that to happen again.
5. WHICH BUBBLE TEAM GETS LEFT OUT WITH OREGON WINNING THE PAC-12 AND NOT-VCU WINNING THE ATLANTIC 10?
There are a number that certainly do not deserve to get in, but the most fascinating to see will be N.C. State and Texas.
The Wolfpack played the single-worst non-conference schedule in college basketball, and while they do have a couple of decent wins, including one over Auburn in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, that number is embarrassing and something that the committee has punished teams for before.
Texas is the other fascinating character here. The Longhorns have a top ten SOS, they have five Q1 wins and nine wins against Q1 and Q2, they beat North Carolina, Kansas, Kansas State, Purdue and Iowa State and they have great computer numbers. But they are also .500 this season. It would be a miracle if they got into the tournament.
Are those going to be the two bubble teams that get left out?