The NCAA Bracket is out and the biggest mystery to me is how the committee seeded the B1G. Regular season champ Purdue pulled a #4. Wisconsin finished 2nd in the regular season and the B1G Conference Tournament and got a #8. The Badgers swept Minnesota and beat Maryland in their sole matchup in Madison. Maryland got a #6 and Minnesota a #5. Northwestern got a #8 after finishing T-5 in the B1G and splitting its two match-ups with Wisconsin. Below is a chart comparing the B1G seeds looking at the rankings and RPI. It’s pretty clear that the RPI is what matters to the Committee. Wisconsin fell down the seed ranks because of its atrocious Strength of Schedule especially the Non Conference Strength of Schedule. Put a little blame on Tennessee and Georgetown for being so bad this season. Wisconsin beat both in Maui but both teams disappointed this season. 2016 Final Four teams Oklahoma and Syracuse also came up small during the 2016-2017 season. Non conference tournaments and schedules are set well in advance so there really isn’t much the Badgers can do there. There are always going to be the Paycheck Games where a minnow comes to Madison to get beat and cash a check for its growing program while the Badgers sell tickets and concessions. Many thanks to Chicago State, Prairie View A&M, and Central Arkansas for the sacrifice this season. Wisconsin was handed Syracuse in the B1G/ACC challenge. Next season a young Badger team will play in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic along with Baylor (2017 #3 Seed), UCLA (2017 #3 Seed), and Creighton (2017 #6 Seed). Maybe it’s my appreciation for major European soccer leagues today, or how MLB used to be. Namely, the regular season is what counts. But I can’t see how head-to-head and regular season standings aren’t given more weight for seeding. And thanks Committee for sending Wisconsin to Buffalo with a massive snow storm pelting half the country.
|Seed||B1G||AP Rank||Coaches Poll||RPI||SOS||NCSOS||RPI Top 50|
Finally, how did Wisconsin end up as a No. 8 seed, considering where the rest of the conference is seeded? The Badgers went 12–6 in conference, advanced to the Big Ten championship game, won five top 50 games and suffered no sub-100 losses. Does that really translate to a No. 8 seed? They may have a Sweet 16 ceiling, but they shouldn’t have to go through a team like Villanova to get there. Minnesota is a No. 5 seed; Wisconsin swept Minnesota, won the same number of Big Ten games and went a round further in the conference tournament.
The Badgers spent most of the season neck and neck with Purdue for the conference title and were constantly one of the conference’s best representatives in the KenPom and RPI metrics. Though they struggled late by losing five of their final seven regular-season games, they appeared to have righted the ship with a comfortable win over Indiana and a blowout of Northwestern to reach the conference championship game.
For their troubles, the Badgers ended up on the same seed line as Northwestern and only one line ahead of 14-loss Michigan State and 15-loss Vanderbilt. They were somehow just the fifth-best team out of the Big Ten. Worse yet, if they beat Virginia Tech in the first round, No. 1 overall seed Villanova will be waiting for them in the second round.
On the whole, the Big Ten seeding was wildly unpredictable.
Team that got screwed (OK, this one was by the committee): Wisconsin. This was the biggest shock of the bracket and something that will never make sense to me no matter how many times it’s explained. I know the Badgers aren’t great and that the Big Ten isn’t either, but this 25–9 squad getting a no. 8 seed is so ridiculous that I can only assume it’s selection committee chairman and Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis’s payback against Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez for Alvarez shitting in his shoe or something at a Big Ten meeting. And not only do the Badgers have a no. 8 seed — if they survive their first-round matchup against Virginia Tech, they’ll have to play no. 1 overall seed and defending national champ Villanova in the second round. Oof.