March Madness men’s bracket makes no sense thanks to selection committee

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament has always been the best event on the American sports calendar to these eyes. The NBA provides the greatest basketball in the world, sure, but nothing can beat the charm of a single-elimination format with players who have worked their whole life for this one shining moment. The drama, the intensity, and stakes of March Madness are simply unmatched.

The current version of the NCAA tournament with 68 teams is perfect and does not require any changes. The people who run college basketball apparently disagree with talks of expansion floating above the madness, because if there’s a way to squeeze more money out of this billion-dollar spectacle they are going to find a way to do it.

At this moment in time, there is only one real problem with March Madness: the people who actually produce the bracket don’t seem to be watching the same basketball as the rest of us. Putting together a 68-team field is a difficult job, no doubt, but it seems like the number of questionable decisions in putting together the bracket only grows every year. The 2024 men’s NCAA tournament feels like the greatest example of that yet.

Let’s dive into the biggest gripes with the 2024 men’s NCAA tournament picture. Find the full 2024 men’s NCAA tournament bracket here.

The Big East got no respect

The Big East felt like one of the very best conferences in men’s college basketball this year to anyone paying attention. Your eyes weren’t deceiving you: the Big East also ranked as the second strongest conference in America according to KenPom’s trusty analytical model.

Yet when Selection Sunday passed, the Big East only had three teams in the field. UConn is a No. 1 seed, Marquette is a No. 2 seed, and Creighton is a No. 3 seed. Everyone else got left home.

St. John’s graded out as the best team to be left off the field by KenPom’s metrics, currently ranking as the No. 25 overall team in the country. That should mean they’re a No. 7 seed, but instead they’re left out of the field entirely. Head coach Rick Pitino, who already turned down an NIT invite, had some thoughts on the NET rankings:

The Johnnies only ranked No. 32 in the NET, and that wasn’t good enough to get in.

Providence was also tough. The Friars didn’t have a great analytical profile, but they had some great wins against future top-5 seeds Marquette, Wisconsin, and Creighton (twice). Okay, so the Friars only ranked No. 54 in KenPom, but the way the team was able to overcome star forward Bryce Hopkins’ season-ending injury was inspiring. Devin Carter is one of the truly great players in America, and he deserved to play in the NCAA tournament. Providence coach Kim English delivered this after being left out of the bracket:

The Mountain West all got under-seeded

Good news: The Mountain West got six teams into the NCAA tournament!

Bad news: Almost all of them deserved a much higher seed.

Take New Mexico, for instance. A selection committee chair told CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander that the Lobos wouldn’t have made the field of 68 if they didn’t win their conference tournament. That’s funny, because the No. 11 seed New Mexico is favored to beat No. 6 seed Clemson in the opening round in the Las Vegas sportsbooks right now.

Nevada was projected as a No. 7 seed by most bracketologists. Instead, they got a No. 10 seed. Boise State was widely projected as a No. 8 seed, but they landed in the play-in as a No. 10 seed. Colorado State was seen as a No. 9 seed, but they fell to the 11-line. It’s especially a blow for the Mountain West teams that scheduled tougher non-conference teams this year.

Well, the Mountain West still got six teams in, so let’s see them prove how good their league is in the tournament.

Michigan State and Florida Atlantic are way over-seeded

In the final bracket projection by our Chris Dobbertean, Michigan State was an No. 11 seed, and Florida Atlantic was a No. 10 seed. Somehow, MSU got a No. 9 seed. People were mad.

It’s almost like the committee gave the Spartans a Tom Izzo Bump for his past success.

Florida Atlantic also seems to have been given a boost for seasons that aren’t this one. The Owls made a charmed run to the Final Four last year, but have played uneven ball all season. A double-digit seed seemed likely, especially with how poor the American was this year. Yet here they are as a No. 8 seed, looming as a possible matchup for No. 1 overall seed UConn.

The people demand Indiana State

Someone needs to go to jail for this:

College basketball’s most beloved beefy boy being on the sidelines is just atrocious. Robbie Avila is the type of mid-major star college basketball should want to see shining, but instead we as a people were robbed by their poor decision-making.

Indiana State went 28-6 this season. They’re the first top-30 team in the NET rankings to ever miss the tournament.

The committee could have left out a horribly dull Virginia team and given that spot to the Sycamores, but no, they blew it. People are angry.

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic, but I’m never going to get over Robbie and the Sycamores being left out of March. Ah well, the basketball will still be good.

Meanwhile, in the women’s bracket:

How is Iowa vs. LSU not a possibility in the Final Four? What a bummer.

Check out my instant bracket predictions here. Read Mike Rutherford’s takeaways from the bracket reveal here. This tournament is still going to be a great one.

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