The top line of the bracket was the toughest decision for the selection committee.
And that as well as the unpredictable season should lead to one of the best NCAA tournaments ever.
At least this is the perception of NCAA tournament committee chair Mike Bobinski, who sat down with ESPN for an extensive interview Sunday night at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.
“It’s going to be just like the regular season,” said Bobinski. “The games are going to be to the wire and it should be one of the best tournaments of all time.”
Bobinski said the top lines were as balanced as he had seen in his previous four years on the committee.
Bobinski said the perception of the Midwest region being the toughest in the bracket wasn’t entirely accurate from a competitive standpoint. The Midwest had Louisville, Duke, Michigan State, Saint Louis, Oklahoma State, Memphis and Creighton as the top seven seeds.
“By brand the Midwest looks to be the toughest, but [the bracket] is balanced,” said Bobinski.
There were a number of issues Bobinski addressed:
- Bobinski said Louisville got the No. 1 seed in the Midwest and would play in Indianapolis over Indiana (No. 1 in the East region) because they earned it and thus could stay home geographically.
- The committee no longer uses the s-curve so Duke wasn’t the worst No. 2 in being placed in Louisville’s bracket as the top No. 1.
- He said Miami, the winner of the ACC regular-season and conference tournament was “as close as you could possibly be,” to being a No. 1 seed. This is the first time ever that the winner of both ACC titles hasn’t been a No. 1 seed. Bobinski said Miami and Gonzaga were compared as the last No. 1 seed.
- Oregon’s spot as a No. 12 was controversial, considering the Ducks won the Pac-12 tournament. Bobinski said that during the bracketing process, Oregon got pushed down on the seed line. This happened once Ole Miss won the SEC tournament and was placed into the field as an automatic qualifier and taken off the line as an at-large.
- Ole Miss was in the field Saturday night, according to Bobinski, before playing in and ultimately winning the SEC tournament over Florida on Sunday in Nashville. “They made us feel pretty good when they won the darn tournament,” said Bobinski. He added the Rebels had proven to the committee they were one of the best 37 at-large teams.
- Bobinski didn’t hesitate to say that Middle Tennessee State and Saint Mary’s passed the eye test as two of the top 37 despite not having a number of quality non-conference wins. He cited wins and stats as to why they both got bids and ended up in Dayton.
- Kentucky was in a group with Southern Miss, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Iowa and a few others for the final spot in the field. “We vetted Kentucky as hard as anybody,” said Bobinski. “We watched them play without Nerlens Noel the last few weeks. It was a sad injury. But they just didn’t show it on the road.”
- Jordan Adams’ broken foot, suffered in the Pac-12 tournament semifinal win over Arizona, only knocked UCLA down a line from a five to a six, according to Bobinski.
- Florida was already slotted as a No. 3 prior to the SEC tournament final.
- Ohio State was in as a No. 2 and New Mexico a No. 3 in the West, even before the Buckeyes tipped off against Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament title game Sunday. “At the end of the day Ohio State was just that much better,” said Bobinski.
“There were 10 committee members with all opinions and thoughts,” said Bobinski. “I saw the votes as chair and they were close.”
This article was originally posted on ESPN.com