John Calipari is right. I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever typed those words before, but the Kentucky coach is 100 percent correct about the NCAA Tournament committee’s approach to seeding teams.
After this year’s bracket was revealed, Calipari was not thrilled with the committee’s work. During an interview on ESPN, he claimed the committee should be more transparent on how much conference tournaments mean and the way teams are paired up.
Have a look:
He’s right. The committee often gets far too cute with matchups and avoids pitting conference rivals against each other and plays with seeds to create entertaining games. That’s ridiculous. It should seed the teams 1 through 68 and roll with it regardless of who is where. It shouldn’t hold a team down or push another up just to create an entertaining game. That’s not fair to the squads involved. Additionally, it’s clear some of the conference tournament results didn’t actually matter.
For an example of storylines driving seeding, you don’t have to look further back than last year. The committee did whatever it could to get Indiana and Kentucky in the same region so the two rivals could face off in the second round. That included downgrading Indiana (the Big Ten regular season champion with a 25-7 record) to a five seed. Though no one would ever admit it, the only reason the committee did that was to create buzz around an Indiana-Kentucky matchup.
This year, Kentucky gets an in-state team (Northern Kentucky) then potentially an under-seeded Wichita State team looking to avenge a loss to the Wildcats from the 2014 tournament. If Kentucky survives those games, it could be headed for a showdown with UCLA, a team that beat the Wildcats at Rupp Arena earlier in the season. The committee opted to put two teams loaded with one-and-dones in the same half of a region in a rematch. And we’re supposed to believe all of those games are just a random coincidence?
It’s not the committee’s job to create storylines and interesting matchups. Its sole job should be to rank the best teams top to bottom and determine who is in and who is out. On this score, Calipari is absolutely right.