The NCAA selection committee laid out its field of 68 teams in the men’s basketball tournament. The big winners were the Big-12, with seven spots, and the Pac-12, Big 10, and Atlantic 10, each boasting six entrants. In fact, six conferences–the aforementioned four plus the American and ACC–constitute more than half of the teams vying for the national championship.
The number one seeds–Wichita State (midwest), Arizona (west), Virginia (east), and Florida (south)–didn’t surprise. But the Wichita State Shockers’ gauntlet to reach the Final Four surely shocked. Kentucky, Louisville, and Michigan all stand in their way.
The bracket ensures numerous controversies and conversations. New Mexico beat San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference tournament. But the Aztecs won a four seed in the West and the Lobos play as a five seed in the South. Mount St Mary’s won their conference. But they face a play-in game while teams who finished sixth or seventh in more prestigious conferences received higher placement. Conference championships once served as a prerequisite for an invitation. Kansas earned a number-two seed. But their dominant center, Joel Embiid, may be out for some time with a back injury.
The consensus snub appears to be SMU. The Mustangs finished 23-9 but their AAC conference received little respect from the selection committee. NC State’s inclusion surprised, as the Wolfpack posted a 21-13 record. They received a play-in bid.