Selection Committee chair Mark Hollis tried to explain how Duke wasn’t considered for a 1-seed. He said they started at the top of the 4-seed line on Wednesday. After three straight top wins, they were moved up and compared, but got stopped in a 1-on-1 comparison with another team. They never got compared directly to North Carolina for that last spot.
But the most curious seeding came out of the Big Ten. It honestly appears as though the committee might have lost the feed to the Big Ten tournament and missed it entirely. Here’s a summary of the teams, in order of seeding.
I had 68 of 68 teams projected correctly, and 62 of 68 within one seed line in my final projection. The Big Ten was a source of some misses.
Here were where the Big Ten teams were seeded, and their results including the conference tournament:
- #4 Purdue RPI 19, 15th Ken Pom, 7-5 vs tourney teams
- #5 Minnesota RPI 22, 33rd Ken Pom, 7-7 vs tourney teams
- #6 Maryland RPI 34, 46th Ken Pom, 6-4 vs tourney teams (lost 4 of last 5 against teams in field)
- #7 Michigan RPI 24, 21st Ken Pom, 8-8 vs tourney teams (won 6 of last 8)
- #8 Wisconsin RPI 36, 23rd Ken Pom, 6-7 vs tourney teams
- #8 Northwestern RPI 50, 39th Ken Pom, 5-8 vs tourney teams
- #9 Michigan State RPI 51, 43rd Ken Pom, 6-9 vs tourney teams
Maryland at 6 was a head scratcher. Setting aside the close wins and lower Ken Pom ranking (which I think the Committee doesn’t examine at all), Maryland played the fewest number of tourney teams and had the easiest top end schedule, and didn’t play the level of teams non-conference that others did (that gave them some of those extra losses). Michigan’s run through the tourney shot them well past Maryland in the RPI, in Ken Pom, in Top 50 wins, in every conceivable metric.
The only one it didn’t? The Committee scrubbing in the selection room. Michigan playing on Selection Sunday and winning the Big Ten was meaningless. With the RPI updated, they now have a virtually identical resumé to Minnesota, who they beat in the semifinals. Virtually the same RPI, one more top win.
That wasn’t the only one. Wisconsin was the 2-seed. They destroyed Northwestern (who handled Maryland). Michigan State had some tough games but it is curious that Wisconsin is basically seeded in the same place as Northwestern and Michigan State, a team who many would agree is not a vintage Spartans team.