The NCAA announced the 68-team field for its men’s basketball tournament otherwise known as March Madness.
Undefeated and tournament favorite Kentucky (34-0) is the top seed in the Midwest Region while Villanova (East), Wisconsin (West), and Duke (South) also earned No. 1 seeds. There are also no qualms about the teams that received No. 2 seeds — Arizona (West), Gonzaga (South), Virginia (East), and Kansas (Midwest).
The following are the five biggest surprises of the Selection Sunday.
- Dayton Flyers, not only because they received a No. 11 seed, but also having to play in the play-in game against No. 11 Boise State (25-8).
Dayton (25-8) finished second in the A-10 with 13-5 regular season record and then lost to VCU in the finals of the conference tournament today, 71-65. The Flyers, who own a RPI of 28, went 9-3 in their last 12 games. The Flyers have winning record in neutral/true home games at 9-7, which includes an away victory over VCU though the Rams were without star guard Briante Weber and still are.
The bad news for the Flyers is that their strength of schedule was 125th, which included a non-conference strength of schedule of 155. Plus, Dayton recorded a bad loss at Duquesne.
Dayton was predicted to be a No. 8 seed by CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm.
- No. 11 UCLA receiving a tournament bid is a bit of a surprise but it is more of a shocker that they were seeded ahead of Dayton.
The Bruins (20-13) finished fourth in the Pac-12 and have a RPI rating of 49. UCLA is 11-13 against teams ranked in the top-150 of the RPI. The Bruins two best wins have come at home (Utah and Oregon) and they have nine double-digit losses.
Patrick Stevens of D1scource.com agreed that UCLA doesn’t think that UCLA belongs in the tournament.
However, UCLA had a strength of schedule of 29 including the 55th toughest non-conference schedule. The Bruins were also 8-4 in their last 12 games, which apparently made a difference to the committee.
- Colorado State being left out of the tournament completely.
Colorado State went 27-5 and finished third in the Mountain West, which received four bids thanks to Wyoming upsetting San Diego State in the finals of the conference tournament.
The Rams, who have a RPI of 29, are the first team ranked in the top 30 of the RPI to be left out of the field since the tournament expanded to 68 teams, according to the Washington Post‘s Matt Bonesteel.
Colorado State went 9-3 in its last 12 and were 12-5 in road/neutral games. The Rams also have three wins against NCAA tournament teams (SDSU, Boise State, and Georgia State).
CSU’s strength of schedule ranks only No. 128 in the country and they have a bad loss at New Mexico.
- Oklahoma Sooners receiving a No. 3 tournament seed.
Oklahoma (22-10) had a fantastic season and deserved a top-four or top-five seed but in no way a No. 3 seed. The No. 15 Sooners finished tied for second in the Big 12 and had a RPI of 19. The Sooners are 9-3 in their last 12 games and played the 16th toughest schedule. Oklahoma has a number of quality wins and went 12-6 against top-50 RPI teams.
Oklahoma is just 8-9 in road/neutral court game and its nonconference schedule ranked No. 136 in the nation. The Sooners also have two bad losses to Creighton and Washington. Oklahoma will need to shoot well from the outside to advance.
- No. 4 North Carolina/Maryland receiving No. 4 seeds
While a No. 4 seed for the Tar Heels is not totally out of whack, North Carolina does deserve to be seeded ahead of Oklahoma. The same goes for Maryland.
North Carolina (24-11) played the second toughest schedule overall and five hardest nonconference schedule. The Tar Heels have seven wins against NCAA tournament teams, with six coming on the road or at neutral sites. UNC is 14-6 in road/neutral games this season and 18-11 against RPI top-150 teams, which includes no bad losses.
Besides, the Tar Heels are most balanced then the Sooners.
Maryland (27-6) finished second in the Big Ten in the regular season and fell to Michigan State by four (62-58) in the finals of the conference tournament. The No. 8 Terrapins have a RPI of 11 and are 15-6 against top-150 RPI teams as well as 9-5 in road/neutral games. In addition, Maryland has no bad losses.
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