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Yeah, the Committee Screwed Us

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Same old, same old

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Lousiana State vs Alabama
Reacting to the bracket
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There is nothing more boring than complaining about the NCAA committee. Who got in, where you got seeded, who is in your bracket… all of that.

It’s not just that no one really cares, it’s that it is the same arguments every year. It’s a cheap bit of content hack columnists can crank out every year. Just recycle the old column update the references, and you’re good to go.

I know this, you know this. And by the time Thursday rolls around, everyone forgets all of the complaining, as the real fun begins. It’s just yelling into the Noise Machine to kill time before the opening tip.

All of this is acts as an obvious prelude to this statement: LSU got absolutely hosed by the NCAA committee.

Before the bracket was unveiled, the bracket cognoscenti had LSU as either a five or a six seed.

LSU finished the season ranked 28th in the NET ratings, the base ranking system used by the NCAA to seed the basketball tournament. Going strictly by NET, LSU is a 7-seed, so the question is, do the other factors suggest moving LSU up or down the seed line?

Over the years, the committee has acted in fairly predictable ways, which is how we know the criteria. This is a good thing, as it tells teams what they need to do in order to make the tourney, and it doesn’t feel like an arbitrary exercise.

And traditionally one of the most important factors is how you finish in your conference. First, it matters because its your conference and the season should have some value, but also, it feeds all of the other criteria like head-to-head and record versus common opponents. The committee has never seeded team strictly to conference finish, but it holds pretty close.

Check it out the other conferences with three or more bids:

  • The Big Ten went according to conference finish except Ohio St. jumped Purdue to be a 2-seed over 4-seed Purdue. They finished fourth and fifth in the Big Ten, so not a huge move. And Ohio St. made the Big Ten conference finals.
  • Virginia Tech finished 3rd in the ACC, and dropped to a 10-seed, below the teams in the three-way tie for fourth. Clemson moved all the way to a 7-seed for reasons passing understanding. They were ranked 41st in the NET, went 3-6 versus Quad One teams, had a losing record on the road, and lost in the first round of the ACC tourney to a Quad Three team. Their win over Alabama back in December is doing some heavy lifting. Remember Clemson’s profile.
  • Colorado finished third in the Pac-12 and jumped to a 5-seed over 7 Oregon and 6 USC. But Colorado ranked 15th in the NET, went 10-5 against the top two Quads, and won the Pac-12 tourney. They got a bump, which makes sense.
  • The Big 12 and Big East went according to conference finish.

Oh, and LSU finished 3rd in the SEC and got an 8-seed, behind Florida (7) and Tennessee (5). LSU beat Arkansas, who finished second and earned a 3-seed overall, once in the regular season and once in the SEC tourney. LSU beat Tennessee by 13.

LSU was an unremarkable 8-9 against the top two Quads and 7-7 away from Baton Rouge. Neither are big positives, but at the same time, they aren’t negatives either.

LSU made the finals of the SEC tourney and played the 37th strongest schedule in the country, Only 11 teams ranked ahead of them in the NET played a tougher schedule. These are big positives which support a move up.

Let’s just compare LSU directly to similarly placed teams in the major multi-bid leagues.

Tourney Profiles

Seed Team Conf Record Conf NET Road Quad 1 Quad 2 Bad Losses SOS
Seed Team Conf Record Conf NET Road Quad 1 Quad 2 Bad Losses SOS
8 LSU SEC 18-9 11-6 (3) 28 7-7 5-8 3-1 0 37
8 UNC ACC 18-10 10-6 (5) 32 8-9 3-9 8-0 1 28
6 Texas Tech Big 12 17-10 9-8 (6) 16 6-7 4-10 2-0 0 59
4 Purdue Big 10 18-9 13-6 (4) 22 7-8 6-7 7-1 1 11
6 USC Pac 12 22-7 15-5 (2) 19 9-5 3-4 6-3 0 64
7 UCONN Big East 15-7 11-6 (3) 30 8-4 4-4 3-3 0 42

LSU is on the same seed line as UNC, who finished behind them in NET, was a miserable 3-9 against Quad 1 teams, finished 5th in a weaker conference (isn’t that fun to say about the ACC?), and had a bad loss (loss to a team in the bottom two Quads). LSU profiles much better than UNC.

Look at Texas Tech, who at least has the high NET, but finished worse in conference and couldn’t buy a Quad 1 win. LSU profiles better than that, though honesty does force me to point out that USC has a better profile, but then again, probably shouldn’t have been dropped as low as a 6-seed.

Purdue jumped all the way to a 4-seed by virtue of playing in the Big Ten and not much else. They profile pretty similarly to LSU though probably get the higher seed due to SOS. Heck, UCONN jumped over LSU in the seedings and, I guess their profiles are pretty similar, but this is where LSU’s SEC tourney run should probably come into play.

If LSU would’ve gotten a 7, it would have been a kick in the pants, but I could at least squint and see it. But an 8-seed? That’s just the NCAA being mad at Will Wade. To top it off, LSU drew St. Bonaventure in the first round, a team which ranked 23rd in the NET.

Because as much as the committee likes settling grudges against Scott Drew (check out Baylor’s hellacious draw despite a #1 seed) and Will Wade, there is nothing they like more than screwing the mid-majors over. It’s damn near pathological.

The top 8 teams in the NET are the 8 teams on the top two seed lines. Loyola-Chicago ranked 10th in the NET and what did they get? OK, a bump down due to their conference, but they are an 8-seed like LSU, and that’s outrageous.

The Bonnies went 7-3 in the top two Quads to go with their #23 NET rating an they got pushed to a 9-seed against LSU.

If there’s a team on the wrong side of the bubble, you can rest assured it’s almost always a mid-major. Michigan St. ranked 70th in the NET, and they are in the play-in game while #43 St. Louis, #50 Boise St, #52 Memphis, #58 Davidson, and #63 Colorado St stayed home.

LSU got the short end of the stick, but not as much as the team we have to play in the first round and their mid-major brethren. Let’s get to Thursday, when we can begin to forget.