UK Men's Basketball

Did the Selection Committee get it right? Comparing the NCAA bracket to the experts.

'They're not gonna make it easy for us': Calipari on NCAA seeding

University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari reacts to his team's seeding in the NCAA Tournament as the Cats watch the selection show from his Lexington home.
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University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari reacts to his team's seeding in the NCAA Tournament as the Cats watch the selection show from his Lexington home.

The NCAA Tournament bracket is in, and so are the complaints.

Did the Selection Committee get it right this year?

A comparison of the official 68-team bracket to the projections on BracketMatrix.com — a composite of dozens of Bracketology predictions across the Internet — says that, yes, the Selection Committee’s final seedings followed what was expected.

Mostly.

There were very few differences at the top of the bracket.

All the No. 1 seeds were ranked by the committee exactly where Bracket Matrix had them at 6 p.m., the start of the Selection Show. Virginia, then Villanova, then Kansas and Xavier as the last No. 1 seed.

The No. 2 seeds were all the same, too, though Bracket Matrix — at the time of the Selection Show — had Duke as the top 2 seed and UNC next. The committee flipped those two. Bracket Matrix also had Purdue as the third No. 2 seed with Cincinnati next. The committee flipped those two, too.

The bigger differences between the two lists started with the No. 3 seeds, and one is related to Kentucky’s tournament draw.

Of the top 32 teams in the tournament — in other words, the 1-8 seeds — only five schools were placed by the Selection Committee more than two spots away from their 6 p.m. standing on Bracket Matrix.

Those schools were Texas Tech (No. 12 in the real bracket, No. 15 in the projections), West Virginia (No. 18 in the real bracket, No. 14 in the projections), Arkansas (No. 26 in the real bracket, No. 23 in the projections), Creighton (No. 30 in the real bracket, No. 35 in the projections) and ... Arizona, which is No. 16 in the real bracket (last of the 4 seeds), but was No. 13 on Bracket Matrix (the best of the 4 seeds).

Arizona, the Pac-12 champions, would be Kentucky’s second-round opponent if both teams win Thursday night. (It’s worth noting here that the committee actually placed UK (17th) two spots higher than where Bracket Matrix (19th) had them at the start of the Selection Show).

So, just for fun, what would’ve happened if the committee had placed Arizona at No. 13 and in the top spot for a 4 seed?

The Wildcats would have ended up in San Diego for their first-round matchup. And UK would have still been in Boise, likely with Gonzaga or Wichita State as a possible second-round opponent. (Though even the slightest move in the bracket — like bumping Arizona up to No. 13 overall and pushing the other 4 seeds one spot down — could have had an effect on several different aspects of the final bracket).

So, UK and Arizona likely wouldn’t have been on a second-round collision course.

We’ll never know how that scenario one would have played out through March. Check the chart below for the official 1-68 seeds and each team’s placement on the Bracket Matrix website when the Selection Show began.

Bracket comparisons: NCAA vs. the experts

NCAA seed ranking

Team

Bracket Matrix*

1

Virginia

1

2

Villanova

2

3

Kansas

3

4

Xavier

4

5

North Carolina

6

6

Duke

5

7

Purdue

8

8

Cincinnati

7

9

Michigan State

10

10

Tennessee

9

11

Michigan

11

12

Texas Tech

15

13

Auburn

12

14

Wichita State

16

15

Gonzaga

17

16

Arizona

13

17

Kentucky

19

18

West Virginia

14

19

Clemson

18

20

Ohio State

20

21

Florida

22

22

Miami

24

23

Houston

21

24

TCU

25

25

Texas A&M

26

26

Arkansas

23

27

Nevada

29

28

Rhode Island

28

29

Seton Hall

27

30

Creighton

35

31

Virginia Tech

32

32

Missouri

31

33

Butler

34

34

Kansas State

33

35

Providence

30

36

Alabama

36

37

NC State

37

38

Florida State

38

39

Texas

43

40

Oklahoma

42

41

UCLA

41

42

St. Bonaventure

39

43

Arizona State

OUT

44

Syracuse

OUT

45

San Diego State

47

46

Loyola-Chicago

45

47

New Mexico State

46

48

Davidson

52

49

South Dakota State

48

50

Murray State

50

51

Buffalo

49

52

UNC-Greensboro

51

53

Charleston

53

54

Marshall

54

55

Bucknell

56

56

Montana

55

57

Wright State

57

58

Stephen F. Austin

58

59

Lipscomb

60

60

Georgia State

59

61

Cal State Fullerton

64

62

Iona

62

63

UMBC

63

64

Penn

61

65

Radford

65

66

LIU-Brooklyn

66

67

N.C. Central

67

68

Texas Southern

68

*-As of 6 p.m. Sunday (the start of the Selection Show)

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