By: Noah Thomas
The day of the NCAA Tournament Selection Show—colloquially known as “Selection Sunday”—is one that is highly anticipated by college basketball purists and acts as one of the single-most important days of the year for college programs throughout the country.
2016’s edition of the show, televised by CBS, turned into a critical fiasco soon after it launched.
Featuring an analytical panel of NBA savants consisting of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Williams, and the not-so-entertaining Charles Barkley, the program dragged on for two hours.
Barkley, whose presence on the show I question highly (both then and now), ended up making a fool of himself when he could not figure out how to operate the interactive, touch-screen bracket that displayed what was the only region revealed at that point.
Then came a saving grace to the nationwide audience: a NCAA Tournament bracket was circulating social media, one that had all 68 slots filled, including the already revealed South region. Initial reaction, however, treated the bracket with caution regarding its authenticity.
It turned out to be one-hundred percent accurate. Teams such as Monmouth and St. Bonaventure, mid-major teams that struggled to beef-up their schedules in order to earn at-large bids, found that they had been left out in the cold much too soon. The programs won 27 and 22 games, respectively.
As always, the NCAA Selection Committee made some questionable choices before deciding the final field. Michigan State was widely considered to be a lock for the third or fourth No. 1 seed, but those went to Virginia and Oregon, the latter of whom came out of what seemed to be thin air to claim a top spot.
Tulsa was placed in an 11-seed play-in game vs. Michigan despite a less than glamourous 20-11 record. The Golden Hurricane holds a 10-11 record vs. the top 200 RPI teams, which a created an unprecedented achievement for a mediocre team.
It just goes to show that the selection process can be unpredictable. The only way to ensure a bid to the tournament, other than to win your conference’s tournament championship, is to have a decent combination of RPI, in-and-out-of-conference strength of schedule, and/or play for Duke.
Tip-off for the first round will be on Thursday when 13-seed UNC Wilmington takes the court against 4-seeded Duke in Providence, Rhode Island at 12:15 p.m. EST.