Every year, I like to do this exercise. I build a bracket using the committee's 1-68 seed list. And see what's different about mine. Full breakdown below, but I'll put the highlights at the top. Needless to say, there's a couple questions I have.
- Cincinnati has a legitimate gripe. They're ranked higher than Maryland; why did Cincy get shipped West instead of them?
- Vandy as the highest 8 seed got sent to Salt Lake City...not sure why.
- I would have swapped VCU and Marquette. Although Marquette is ranked higher, I think VCU's travel considerations trump Marquette's given what regional sites were available.
- The committee made a mess of the play-in games. I offer a solution that doesn't involve the Sacramento site below.
- I also would have tweaked the 16 line, but it's no big deal.
Below is the breakdown, and at the end is my bracket.
The 1 line:
1 Villanova - gets Buffalo and the East regional
2 Kansas - gets Tulsa and the Midwest
3 North Carolina - gets Greenville and the South
4 Gonzaga - gets Salt Lake City and West. You could make an argument Sacramento would be a better site for them, but as it turns out this assignment works better for the Pac-12 teams behind them
Through 1 line, regions remaining: BUF, GRE, ORLx2, INDx2, MILx2, TUL, SLC, SACx2
The 2 line:
5 Kentucky - their best location is the South regional, and Indianapolis is open
6 Arizona - goes to Salt Lake City. The West is the obvious regional for them
7 Duke - obviously goes to Greenville. As far as regionals go, East is better than Midwest
8 Louisville - gets the other spot in Indianapolis, and the Midwest is the open regional
Through 2 lines, seed score: East 8, West 10, South 8, Midwest 10
Through 2 lines, regions remaining: BUF, ORLx2, MILx2, TUL, SACx2
The 3 line:
9 Oregon - Sacramento to start. As for the region, with the West blocked, the Midwest becomes the next best option
10 Florida St - here's where being the 4th best team in a conference is fatal. Duke, UNC, and UL are ahead of FSU. With those 3 occupying 3 of the regions, FSU is forced to take the last available region - the West. At least Orlando is open for them for the 1st 2 rounds
11 UCLA - they're going to have to travel no matter what...but of the two available regions, the South is better than the East. They take the second spot in Sacramento
12 Baylor - they get the second spot in Tulsa. As for regionals, the East is the last one available. The South would be better, but Baylor as the last 3 seed gets no power in this decision. Let's put a pin in this and revisit later
Through 3 lines, seed score: East 20, West 20, South 19, Midwest 19
Through 3 lines, regions remaining: BUF, ORL, MILx2
The 4 line:
Before we begin, we note the conflicts: Butler can't go in the East, Florida can't go in the South, and WVU can't go in the East or Midwest. Actually this is pretty lucky, usually at this stage you'd have more conflicts
13 Butler - Milwaukee is their ideal sub-regional, and it's still available. As for region, South and Midwest are both close to even, but South is slightly better. We'll put them in the South, knowing we have some flexibility if we need it
14 Florida - Orlando still has a spot available, so they luck out on that front. Since UF can't go in the South, they can go either in the Midwest or East, with about the same travel. The East is slightly better, so let's put them there, knowing we can revisit
15 West Virginia - Buffalo is their preferred site out of the 8 total...and somehow is still open. Amazing that it's working out this well. 14 of 15 teams so far have gotten their first choice of site. As for region, the Midwest and West are left and Kansas is in the Midwest. WVU has to go west for now
16 Purdue - Milwaukee is the last site available...and works out pretty well for Purdue. Midwest is the last region available...and works out well for Purdue again
Through 3 lines, seed score: East 34, West 35, South 32, Midwest 35
Balance for the top 4 lines looks okay. Let's revisit a couple things.
- If we flop Baylor and UCLA, we can help Baylor's travel and make things even more balanced. However, it would make UCLA travel all the way across the country instead of halfway. Let's leave it as is.
- In a perfect world, it's Purdue as the lowest seed that has to go to the West. However, the region would them add up to 36, which is teetering on the edge of being unbalanced. Knowing that, it's better for WVU to go West than Butler or Florida.
- If we put Butler in the Midwest instead, we still can't do anything with Florida...I don't think there's a permutation that helps anyone too much here.
The top 4 lines are set, with very little conflict! The only issues for individual teams are probably Florida St (but we can't do anything about that) and West Virginia (in a perfect world, Purdue travels). Regions are pretty balanced. Let's move on.
The 5 line:
subregional sites for the 5 line: BUF, ORL, MILx2
17 Virginia - Buffalo is their best choice, but UVa played WVU in the regular season. This sends UVa careening towards Orlando instead. This does keep UVa in the East though
18 Minnesota - two Milwaukee spots are open for Minny, but since Purdue is in one of them, Minny takes the spot in the South regional instead
19 Notre Dame - Milwaukee is better for them than Buffalo, but they played Purdue in the regular season. So they go to Buffalo; although this is the West regional
20 Iowa St - Milwuakee is their preferred site anyway, so this works out well. Having Kansas in the sweet 16 from this draw isn't ideal, but rematch conflicts sort of tie our hands here. Plus this puts ISU in the Midwest regional
Through 5 lines, we have not deviated from the selection committee yet.
The 6 line:
subregional sites for the 6 line: ORL, TUL, SACx2
21 SMU - Tulsa is by far the preferred regional here. It's the East region, which isn't great, but first weekend takes precedence
22 Cincinnati - Orlando would be better than either Sacramento spot. This does bury Cincy in the West region, though
23 Maryland - only Sacramento is available. We'll stick them in the South spot to leave the Midwest spot open for Creighton below
24 Creighton - see above; they get the other Sacramento spot
We have hit our first deviation. In real life, the committee sent Cincinnati out west and kept Maryland in Orlando. I'm not really sure why they did this.
The 7 line:
subregional sites for the 7 line: GRE, INDx2, SLC
25 St Mary's - Salt Lake City in the West region is open. Perfect
26 South Carolina - Greenville is available for them, which is basically the committee's wet dream. Perfect, again. East regional too
27 Michigan - the two Indianapois sites are available for Michigan and Dayton. Perfect again. Honestly, it's kind of amazing how neat this all works out. The South and Midwest regionals are the two available. Mileage is really close for both teams and regions...Dayton going South is the best advantage for either team, so let's do that
28 Dayton - see above. By the letter of the law, Michigan should get the South spot, but the advantage is so small that consideration for Dayton should trump it
We do not deviate from the committee on the 7 line.
The 8 line:
subregional sites for the 8 line: BUF, GRE, TUL, SLC
29 Wisconsin - actually, Buffalo is the best site for them, over Tulsa. But it's close enough that I wonder if consideration of the regional should mater more. Midwest over East? Let's put Wisky in Buffalo for now, which is East
30 Miami - they can't go to Greenville (UNC), so to Tulsa and the Midwest they go instead. Note that this was the alternate Wisconsin path, but it's better to use it for Miami to help them
31 Arkansas - Greenville and the South is miles better than SLC and the West, obviously
32 Northwestern - the perils of being the last team on a line, they have to take the hike to SLC and the West
We do not deviate from the committee on the 8 line.
The 9 line:
subregional sites for the 9 line: BUF, GRE, TUL, SLC
Here's where things get fun with conflicts.
Vandy can't go to Greenville, SHU can't go to Buffalo, MSU can't go to Buffalo or SLC, VT can't go to Greenville or Tulsa
33 Vanderbilt - Tulsa and the Midwest region is best available
34 Seton Hall - after conflicts, Greenville and the South become best available
35 Michigan St - Buffalo and SLC are the remaining sites. See note above. Oops. Back to SHU we go!
34 Seton Hall - if we kick SHU out of Greenville to make room for MSU, we have to send Seton Hall to SLC and the West region
35 Michigan St - Greenville and the South region for Michigan St
36 Virginia Tech - Buffalo and the East region is available for them
We have a deviation! In real life, the committee sent Vandy out to Salt Lake City, and Seton Hall to Greenville, and Michigan St to Tulsa. In my world, the committee sends Vandy to Tulsa, SHU to SLC, and Michigan St to Greenville. Vandy as the highest team on the 8 line avoids the travel. Not sure why the committee went the other way on this.
The 10 line:
subregional sites for the 10 line: GRE, INDx2, SLC
37 Oklahoma St - they can take either Indianapolis spot; they'll take the Midwest one over the South one
38 Wichita St - Indianapolis works for them too, and they'll take the South one that OSU passes up
39 Marquette - Greenville and the East is obvioulsy better than the western stuff
40 VCU - here's another example of unfairness in being the last team on a line. Greenville and the East is PERFECT for VCU, while for Marquette it's merely a little better than SLC. However, SLC and the West for VCU is horrible. By NCAA rules, VCU has to get screwed so that Marquette is helped slightly. This is a spot where I would pull an executive decision.
So we deviate from the committee on VCU and Marquette. Common sense rules.
The 11 line:
subregional sites for the 11 line: ORL, TUL, SACx2
We've got play-in games, and this gets really messy really quick. Orlando is a Thu/Sat, Tulsa and Sacramento are Fri/Sun. Automatically we know Orlando is getting someone to play Cincinnati. USC has to go to a Fri/Sun site because of travel reasons.
Here's what we know for the PIG guys: Providence can't go to SAC, Wake can't go to ORL, USC can't go to ORL, SAC, or TUL, and KSU can't go to Tulsa.
So um, you see a minor issue. USC can't go to ANY of the sites. They're blocked out by travel (Orlando), regular season rematches (Tulsa), and conference conflicts (Sacramento). Of the 3 choices, regular season rematches are the one that the committee will violate in this case. So Tulsa is hosting a PIG winner, and USC is one of the ones going there. Since Wake can't go to Orlando, let's put them with USC going to Tulsa. Providence/Kansas St to Orlando. Let's proceed:
41 Xavier - for non-PIG participants, just Sacramento is left. X gets the South spot over the Midwest spot
42 Providence - see above
43 Wake Forest - see above
44 Rhode Island - Sacramento in the Midwest is last available
45 USC - see above
46 Kansas St - see above
In real life the committee lost its mind. They set both PIG participants to Fri/Sun sites, including one in Sacramento. They did USC/Providence going to Tulsa and Wake/K-State going to Sacramento. I'm not really sure why they took this route.
The 12 line:
subregional sites for the 12 line: BUF, ORL, MILx2
Things get a little easier now with one-bid conferences.
47 Nevada - Milwaukee, in the Midwest over the South
48 Middle Tennessee - it's actually pretty close, but Milwaukee is better than Orlando or Buffalo for them. As it turns out, sending them to Milwaukee helps the two teams below them as well
49 UNC-Wilmington - Orlando, easily
50 Princeton - Buffalo, easily
We do not deviate from the committee on the 12 line.
The 13 line:
subregional sites for the 13 line: BUF, ORL, MILx2
51 Bucknell - Buffalo is their best spot
52 East Tennessee St - Orlando is their best spot, although it's close
53 Vermont - Milwaukee is left, they get the Midwest because of the team below them who strongly prefer the South
54 Winthrop - the other Milwaukee spot
We do not deviate from the committee on the 13 line.
The 14 line:
subregional sites for the 14 line: ORL, TUL, SACx2
55 New Mexico St - they'll take Tulsa obviously
56 FGCU - FGCU in Orlando. Perfect
57 Kent St - stuck in Sacramento, we'll give them the South over the Midwest
58 Iona - stuck in Sacramento
We do not deviate from the committee on the 14 line.
The 15 line:
subregional sites for the 15 line: GRE, INDx2, SLC
59 Northern Kentucky - obviously going to Indianapolis. South regional is better for them than Midwest, slightly
60 Troy - Greenville is their best fit
61 Jacksonville St - Indianapolis is their choice
62 North Dakota - goes to Salt Lake City
We do not deviate from the committee on the 15 line.
The 16 line:
subregional sites for the 9 line: BUF, GRE, TUL, SLC
Buffalo and SLC are Thu/Sat; Greenville and Tulsa are Fri/Sun. Buffalo is earmarked for one PIG winner, we could go for either Fri/Sun site. Let's give them to the #2 overall seed (Kansas) in Tulsa. Davis needs the Fri/Sun site for sure; New Orleans would be 2nd on the geographic consideration list, plus Tulsa would be a great regional site for them. MSM and NCCU can play Thu/Sat then, in Buffalo, which is a decent location for either school.
63 Texas Southern - after the above, SLC and Greenville are left. TSU actually slightly prefers Greenville...
64 South Dakota St - and SDSU prefers SLC, obviously. Let's send TSU east to help SDSU out
65 UC-Davis - see above
66 North Carolina Central - see above
67 New Orleans - see above
68 Mt St Mary's - see above
We actually differ from the selection committee on what we do with the PIG. Not sure why they had Davis play NCCU.
1) Villanova vs. 16) North Carolina Central/Mount St Mary's
8) Wisconsin vs. 9) Virginia Tech
4) Florida vs. 13) East Tennessee St
5) Virginia vs. 12) UNC-Wilmington
3) Baylor vs. 14) New Mexico St
6) SMU vs. 11) USC/Wake Forest
2) Duke vs. 15) Troy
7) South Carolina vs. 10) VCU
@Salt Lake City
1) Gonzaga vs. 16) South Dakota St
8) Northwestern vs. 9) Seton Hall
4) West Virginia vs. 13) Bucknell
5) Notre Dame vs. 12) Princeton
3) Florida St vs. 14) FGCU
6) Cincinnati vs. 11) Providence/Kansas St
@Salt Lake City
2) Arizona vs. 15) North Dakota
7) St Mary's vs. 10) Marquette
1) North Carolina vs. 16) Texas Southern
8) Arkansas vs. 9) Michigan St
4) Butler vs. 13) Winthrop
5) Minnesota vs. 12) Middle Tennessee
3) UCLA vs. 14) Kent St
6) Maryland vs. 11) Xavier
2) Kentucky vs. 15) Northern Kentucky
7) Dayton vs. 10) Wichita St
1) Kansas vs. 16) UC-Davis/New Orleans
8) Miami vs. 9) Vanderbilt
4) Purdue vs. 13) Vermont
5) Iowa St vs. 12) Nevada
3) Oregon vs. 14) Iona
6) Creighton vs. 11) Rhode Island
2) Louisville vs. 15) Jacksonville St
7) Michigan vs. 10) Oklahoma St