One year after a heroic Twitter egg nuked the unnecessarily swollen two-hour March Madness selection show that CBS, Turner and the NCAA were so proud of, Sunday’s release of the 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket went off without a hitch.
Unless, of course, you are a part of one of the fan bases who felt your favorite team was slighted.
As is the tradition every year when the field is released, complaints are filed by almost every team’s devotees about the selection committee’s decision-making. Take Syracuse, for example, who with six RPI top-50 wins, including triumphs against Florida State, Duke and Virginia, were among the most notable of the “snubs.”
Loyalists of the Orange are quick to forget the fact that this year’s squad was an abysmal 2-11 outside of the Carrier Dome this season.
Kentucky fans also filed their grievances (rightfully so) when the Wildcats appeared as the No.2 seed in the South Region that features opponents such as North Carolina, Butler, Wichita State and UCLA as an improbable No. 10 and No. 3 seeds respectively.
Based on the NCAA’s past bracketing procedures that rely on the flawed RPI, strength of schedule and the always-present “who did you beat,” it is fair to question many of the decisions that the committee made.
While this worked in favor of the Vanderbilt Commodores Sunday, if I was a fan, I certainly would not be optimistic.
— VandyMBB (@VandyMBB) March 12, 2017
As the No. 33 overall seed and a No. 9 seed in the West Region, Vandy becomes the first 15-loss team to earn an at-large bid. We can all agree that the Bryce Drew’s squad deserved in with their efforts after starting the season 8-10. But, the 15 losses are a glaring issue on any resume and to give the Dores a single-digit seed is absurd.
So a No.9 seed, deserving of it or not, should give Vandy a better chance than they could have hoped for, right?
Eh, not so much.
The Commodores have been hot as of late, having won 11 of their past 16 games. This feat, while impressive, has to be exhaustive on both the players and the coaching staff. Now, they will travel cross-country to Salt Lake City for their first-round bout with the much-celebrated No. 8 seed Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday.
The travel alone can be grueling. Acting as the first-round foil this year’s Cinderella? That is a tremendous amount to overcome.
Coach Bryce Drew said it best in his press conference Sunday when he talked about his team being “emotionally drained” after their run to the semifinals of this past weekend’s SEC Basketball Tournament.
“It’s such an awesome event, so we want our guys to enjoy this process, Drew said. “This is a great compliment for what they’ve accomplished. We want to be at our best, but we want them to enjoy it.”
The air around this year’s Vanderbilt team certainly feels different than the squad that got bounced in the First Four opening round by Wichita State a season ago. And, at least in the first couple rounds of their region, the Commodores would be a solid match up at full strength.
But, after making the act of getting in the tournament look like such a grind and the strain of their recent run of success, it is fair to wonder how much more this squad could have left to give.