March Madness has lived up to its name this year, stirring up complete chaos within the brackets.
Several lower seeds have been inexplicably pushing their way to the top during the tournament’s opening games.
On March 17 and 18, 2016, 10 double-digit seeded teams won their first-round games, for the first time in NCAA Tournament history. Seeds 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 all won their opening games in 96 hours for the upsets that went down in history.
This is the first time in NCAA Tournament history that the No. 2, 3 and 4 seed teams lost in the same day. Of the top-10 low-seed teams, Syracuse, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Gonzaga, Hawaii, Little Rock, Stephen F. Austin, Yale, Middle Tennessee State and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) all came out on top.
Many people have their favorite upsets of the 2016 games, and this all comes thanks to the Selection Committee that ranked the teams. The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee consists of 10 members whose role it is to seed and bracket the field for the NCAA Tournament.
These members are nominated by their conference and then serve five-year terms, representing a cross-section of the Division I basketball. Countless hours are spent evaluating teams in the regular season.
These committee members are expected to be experts not only on the teams of their conference, but in Division I Basketball also.
This then raises the question as to how did this many teams upset the balance of the brackets this year? Were all the lower-seeded teams just this lucky, or is the committee overlooking these teams for the ones with more fame?
The committee’s process is as follows: In November the committee gathers to discuss the upcoming season, and conferences are divided among the members. Each member becomes a primary or secondary monitor to approximately seven conferences.
The committee meets in January to review and discuss the non-conference portion of the season. It meets again in mid-February in Indianapolis, to run through the scale-down selection, seeding process and bracketing exercise.
Finally, the Tuesday before Selection Sunday, the 10 committee members gather in New York City to begin the selection process. They debate on dozens of teams and cast hundreds of ballots until results of the final-68 bracket.
Though proceedings and precautions are taken in the process of the selection, it seems that some aspects other than knowledge of Division I basketball are taken into account. Out of several conferences and dozens of teams, it seems we see and expect the same teams ever year.
This should be considered in future proceedings.
Also, there is a chance that the committee members might cast their favorite teams. There seems to be no rule within the process to keep a committee member from promoting their team.
There should be some way of preventing this from happening, having the seeds and brackets selected solely on the abilities and achievements of the team during their season.
The best way to do this would be to base eligibility for the tournament more on overall records, and slightly less on strength of schedule. Sure, teams from the power five conferences tend to be better and win the majority of national championships, but if the last few years of March Madness have been any indication, these smaller teams are able to hold their own in the tough, opening rounds of the tournament.
A system that incorporates more teams based on skill rather than classification, I think, will make for a more fair, more entertaining NCAA tournament.