Quick-hit observations on the NCAA tournament bracket just released:
• Boy howdy is the Midwest Region stacked. As others have pointed out, the region has seven of the top 20 teams in Kenpom ratings. As a reward for the top overall seed, Louisville has to get through Duke, Michigan State, St. Louis, Oklahoma State and Memphis. Yikes.
• Without question, the most underseeded team was Oregon. Joe Lunardi had the Ducks as an 8 seed, Jerry Palm had them as a 7 and I had them as a 6. But the committee, despite their Pac-12 championship, essentially treated them as if they need to win that tourney to even get in; they would have been one of the last at-larges in, were they an at-large. Not much love for conference tourney winner Mississippi either; they also got a 12, though if they can get past Wisconsin, they’re the type of team that would drive Bruce Weber’s Kansas State team nuts.
• The Pac-12 was bizarrely seeded across the board. UCLA, with one of its top players out, gets a 6. Oregon is saddled with a 12, as is California. Colorado is a 10, Arizona is a 6. Did the Committee think this was last year’s Pac-12?
• Middle Tennessee State was a surprise to some, but after Iona made it last year, you could see MTSU getting in as well. The Committee is showing a ton of love to the mid-majors, even if it’s making them battle it out, Joker-style, in Dayton.
• It’s longtime tourney tradition not to put together rematches in the first round, so the UNLV-California game — in San Jose, no less — was probably a mistake, similar to the time they put BYU in a Sunday game.
• If Greg Gumbel was going to make a mistake, I’m glad it was saying a team like Butler earlier than he should have, rather than accidentally giving away a bubble team. That would have been a disaster.
• For all the talk that Gonzaga has some sort of advantage being in the West, a reminder that Gonzaga’s campus is, in fact, 1,204 miles from Los Angeles. Indiana, a team upset that it didn’t get its Indianapolis region like it wanted, is 625 miles from Washington DC.
• A good sign for how popular advanced statistics are becoming: KenPom’s website was down for half an hour after the seedings came out.
• In my last projection, I had all 68 teams in the tournament correct. This is a lot less impressive than it sounds. It was a soft bubble this year, I played it super safe and it’s not like I was even close on many of the seedings. I’m gonna go and tell a ton of people I did it anyway.