The first weekend of March Madness is in the books, and there are now plenty of Monday morning “quarterbacks” scolding the NCAA Selection Committee.
The field of 68 is down to just 16, and as is the case with any NCAA men’s championship basketball tournament, there were plenty of early-round upsets.
None was more glaring than Villanova’s loss to Wisconsin. The defending champs were the top overall seed in the tourney, but met their match in No. 8 Wisconsin.
The Badgers were spotted 5.5 points in Vegas, but ended up topping the Wildcats by three to kick out Jay Wright’s team that finished the season 32-4. Wisconsin’s surprising upset was just one of many for the Big Ten, the conference that perhaps has the most reason to be angry with the NCAA.
“People don’t think our league is any good,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said after reaching the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday night. “You don’t understand basketball if you put Wisconsin as the eighth seed.”
The second-most shocking upset was No. 2 Duke’s loss Sunday night to No. 7 South Carolina. One of the favorites in Vegas to win the whole thing, the Blue Devils couldn’t fend off the Gamecocks in what’s certainly a win for the sportsbooks.
From fans and sports analysts, to actual coaches themselves, numerous voices are making their opinions heard that the NCAA erred in properly assigning certain teams.
The Sweet Sixteen has three teams from the Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. But of the nine teams the ACC sent to the big dance, just one (North Carolina) is still vying for the championship.
Another alleged oversight was Wichita State’s No. 10 seeding. The Shockers had 30 victories to their resume before the start of March Madness, but were ranked behind teams like Seton Hall, a program that won just 21 games and lost 12.
Due to their ranking, Wichita State was forced to play No. 2 Kentucky in the second round. An underdog by 3.5 points, the Shockers nearly pulled off the upset, but a last-second three-pointer was blocked to give the Wildcats the victory.
After the game, Kentucky coach John Calipari said, “Wichita State, they’re a good team. They got misseeded.”
The Kentucky and Wichita State game was just the second time in NCAA history that two 30-win programs met in the first weekend of the tournament.
The Big Ten, often considered one of the best conferences in college basketball along with the ACC, didn’t receive much respect from the Selection Committee in 2017. Following what many believed to be a down year for the Big Ten, the conference’s top-seeded school was No. 4 Purdue.
The Boilermakers topped Vermont and Iowa State to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. Along with Wisconsin and Purdue, No. 7 Michigan is still alive following wins over Oklahoma State and a big upset against No. 2 Louisville.
The Wolverines beat the Cardinals 73-69 on Sunday to easily cover the three points they were given.