Sports Take: Which teams were slighted by NCAA committee?

Louisville head coach Chris Mack, center, talks with his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

On Sunday, the 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket was finally announced, marking the beginning of March Madness for the first time in two years. But, like every year, a day that is usually one of celebration for most teams turned into a day of complaining for others, as many felt snubbed or slighted by the selection committee, either from being unfairly seeded or left out altogether.

Of all the teams narrowly left out by the selection committee, Louisville will certainly feel as if it had the best case to make the tournament, especially over 12-seeded Wichita State. The two teams have similar resumes, but the Cardinals have reason to be frustrated, as the Shockers perform poorly in advanced metrics.

Louisville possesses an average record against the first two quadrants at 7-6, but so does Wichita State, coming in at only 4-4. The quadrant system is a system used by the NCAA that spits each opponent into one of four quadrants depending on how high the team is ranked in the NET, the preferred ranking tool of the NCAA. While Louisville has more losses against quadrant one and two opponents, they also have more wins.

Furthermore, Louisville does very well in advanced metrics, especially when compared to Wichita State. The Cardinals rank significantly higher than the Shockers in the NET, Kenpom, BPI, Sagarin and Strength of Record. The one thing Wichita State had going for them was their 68-63 win over No. 2 seeded Houston in February, as Louisville lacks a win of that quality.

Both teams had a fair case to make, but unfortunately, only one team could make it due to teams like Oregon State and Georgetown stealing bids by winning their conference tournaments.

Oklahoma State is another team that will feel frustrated with the selection committee, as Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys were placed at the four-seed line, lower than many anticipated.

Perhaps the most baffling thing was the teams the selection committee decided to put above Oklahoma State. The Cowboys finished the year going 8-2 in their final 10 games, including wins over No. 1 seed Baylor, Oklahoma and two wins over West Virginia, who is mysteriously seeded above Oklahoma State at the three-seed line. Oklahoma State also beat No. 3 seed Arkansas earlier in the year and has four more quadrant one wins than the Razorbacks.

Many had Oklahoma State as a borderline No. 2 seed and at the very least a high No. 3 seed, so the Cowboys being placed on the four-seed line seems like an obvious error by the selection committee, making the road to the Final Four much tougher for Oklahoma State.

The final snub is legendary head coach Tom Izzo’s Michigan State, who were given a No. 11 seed and will play UCLA in a play-in game. The Spartans were placed below the No. 11 seed Syracuse Orange, who will not have to play an extra play-in game and whose resume is much weaker than Michigan State’s.

The Spartans earned five quadrant one wins, with victories over No. 1 seeds Michigan and Illinois and No. 2 seed Ohio State. The Orange only have a single quadrant one win, being against a mediocre North Carolina State team. Syracuse also has a quadrant three loss against Pittsburg, something that is not usually seen among NCAA Tournament teams.

While some teams will feel unfairly slighted by the NCAA selection committee, there were no egregious misses by the committee this year, especially when selecting the 68 teams who would make the field. Some of the seeding choices were odd, but that’s to be expected when you haven’t selected a bracket in two years. Regardless of where they are seeded, it’s sure that each team is just happy to see March Madness back.