Midway through the CBS Selection Sunday show, a copy of the complete NCAA tournament bracket leaked on Twitter.
As each region was unveiled on television — slowly, over the course of a two-hour studio show — the teams perfectly matched the leak. Social media-savvy fans could get a jump start on their television-watching brethren on booking flights and hotels if they pleased.
“We go through great lengths to prevent the tournament field from being revealed early and the NCAA took its usual measures to protect this from happening,” NCAA spokesman David Worlock said in a statement afterward. “Unfortunately, and regrettably, the bracket was revealed prior to our broadcast partners having the opportunity to finish unveiling it. We take this matter seriously and we are looking into it.”
The leak was notable for two reasons: it’s surprisingly rare for this kind of made-for-television event, even in this digital era; and the public realized quickly that one of its darlings — Monmouth, with its engaging bench mob — wouldn’t be dancing. Neither would any of the mid-major bubble teams outside of Wichita State, which will face Vanderbilt in the First Four.
“We were monitoring (Wichita State) closely all year,” Division I men’s basketball committee chairman Joe Castiglione said on CBS. “They had a lot of injuries, and were 21-3 with their full complement of players. The metrics we use to assess teams all ranked them very high. We looked at the team they were and the metrics.”
Other surprising inclusions included Syracuse, a No. 10 seed, which made the field despite an RPI above 70; the committee clearly gave the Orange a bit of a pass for going 4-5 while coach Jim Boeheim was suspended. Tulsa, too, shocked most college basketball observers by getting into the First Four despite three sub-100 RPI losses.
The top of the bracket, on the other hand, was less surprising. As expected by virtue of by far the most impressive resume in the country, Kansas was named the No. 1 overall seed in the 2016 NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks were joined on the top line by North Carolina, Virginia and Oregon.
Michigan State, an hour after winning the Big Ten tournament, fell to the No. 2 seed line along with Villanova, Xavier and Oklahoma. The Wildcats were placed in the South region, so they will not get to play in Philadelphia if they reach the Sweet 16. The Spartans were slotted into the Midwest region, setting up the potential for a Michigan State-Virginia regional final — which would be their third consecutive NCAA tournament meeting if it happens.
Though there were some eyebrows raised at certain seeding decisions — Big Ten fans were likely disappointed across the board — nothing compared to that of the mid-major snubs.
SOURCE: Nicole Auerbach
USA TODAY Sports