The 2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket – Do Polls or Ratings Matter?

I will start with a confession: I have watched fewer than 15 college basketball games this year up to this point, and 3 were Georgia Tech games and I’m pretty sure those don’t count. Tech was a disappointment and the Atlanta Hawks have been fantastic, so my attention has been in the NBA. Until now. It’s impossible for me to not get sucked into the Big Dance, so I hurriedly prepared a bracket today and tried to justify not picking Kentucky. (C’mon Arizona, don’t let me down!) During that process, a friend commented about how little the AP poll seems to mean these days when it comes to seedings and that made me curious. As you know, when I get curious I start coming up with cockamamie ways to answer those curiosities and this column is the result.

I decided to compare both the AP Poll and the RPI Rankings against the final seedings to evaluate which teams seem to have been treated like the protagonist in a country song and which ones are apparently most favored nations. Here’s what I found:

The AP Rankings:

Friends in Low Places 

  • Murray State & Colorado State – Both schools find themselves in the NIT instead of the Big Dance when their number of votes say that they should be a 10 and 11 seed respectively.
  • Stephen F. Austin, Wyoming, & Valpo – According to the poll these guys should be staring down Round 2 matchups with #1 seeds, so I’m not feeling too badly for them.
  • Witchita State – Poor Witchita State. How does the #14 ranked team get a 7th Seed?! There’s really no excuse for this and the only thing that will make this right is if they beat their in-state rival Kansas in the 2nd round.

National Treasures

  • Iowa – The Hawkeyes apparently have some leverage over someone on the committee, because they should have been a clear bubble team and somehow they landed four spots higher as a #7 seed.
  • Purdue & Georgetown – These two didn’t take huge bumps, but each was seeded 2 spots higher than their rankings would indicate. You may not want to put your trust in them when you fill out your perfect bracket.
  • The Big XII minus II – The Big XII definitely can’t complain about not feeling the love. Kansas, Oklahoma, and Baylor all were seeded one spot higher than their rankings indicated and Oklahoma State didn’t even have any AP votes, so they also clearly felt the love. Handle these with care as you choose.

The RPI Rankings

Chicken Fried

  • It’s official: Colorado State was the most hated team by the committee. Not only did they garner enough votes in the poll to be invited to dance, their RPI would have them in the top half of the bracket! Sorry, Rams.
  • VCU – Usually mid-majors with an NCAA reputation feel the love, but apparently the injuries down the stretch outweighed a Top 15 RPI and dropped them to a 7 seed. I wouldn’t advise running into Shaka Smart out on the street.
  • SMU – Larry Brown’s Hall of Fame status combined with the #13 RPI might make you think he would get some TLC from the committee, but they appear to have a short memory and bumped him down 3 pegs.

The Like Button

  • Wyoming – According to the RPI Wyoming’s greatest hope should be New York in the NIT final, but the committee decided that they deserve a 12 seed and Colorado State doesn’t.
  • LSU & Purdue – Both of these squads have an RPI that should have them seeded with the small conference AQs, but the committee decided that they are single digit seeds. I’m not exactly expecting them to go far.
  • Iowa – Yep, the Hawkeyes don’t have the AP votes of anything close to a 7 seed, but they are certainly feeling the love. I’m looking for them to be the first school from the Hawkeye state to be eliminated this tournament.

So armed with that knowledge you can now avoid making a few mistakes and are free to make the other 14 that will cost you your pool!

You’re Welcome

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