Selection Committee To Purdue and Big 14: EAT IT
Michigan State, the conference champions and winners of 13 of their last 14, got a 2 seed. Purdue and Maryland, with RPIs 14 and 15, got 5 seeds. Indiana, the regular-season champion by two games, got a 5 seed. Michigan squeaked into the tournament as an 11, but was a line behind a team with a 71 RPI and no quality wins since late January (Syracuse). If there was any doubt about the selection committee's opinion of the conference prior to Sunday's bracket reveal, there isn't now: it sucks.
We've heard in previous years how the selection committee is slowly moving into the 21st century and leaving the almighty RPI behind, as well they should - there's a reason why every sound ratings system pays attention to margin of victory, and why pretty much every system that ignores it ends up with significant departures from the norm. This year's description of the principles the committee follows even includes a direct link to kenpom! So let's look at kenpom:
#18 Iowa State
Oh. How about RPI, then?
#22 Iowa State
Oh. Conference tournament?
Purdue lost in finals to Michigan State
California lost in semifinals to Utah
Iowa State lost in quarters to Oklahoma
Duke lost in quarters to Notre Dame
Huh. Record in last 12 games?
California 9-3 regular season (9-3 including conference tournament)
Purdue 8-4 (8-4)
Duke 8-4 (8-4)
Iowa State 6-6 (5-7)
Nope. Record vs RPI top-100 (I know this is dumb, but apparently it's still in use)?
California 15-9 (2-4 vs. 1-25, 6-4 vs. 26-50, 7-1 vs. 51-100)
Purdue 10-7 (2-3, 3-2, 5-2)
Duke 11-9 (4-5, 2-3, 5-1)
Iowa State 12-11 (2-8, 5-2, 5-1)
The case for Cal as a 4 seems slightly better, partly because Purdue picked up another top-25 loss Sunday against Michigan State. On the other hand, we've yet to find something where Duke or Iowa State looks better than the Boilers.
One more thing. Procedural bumping? I did miss slightly when I complained about Lunardi bracketing Indiana and Maryland: teams from the same conference can play in the second round as long as they've only played once during the regular season and conference tournament; if they've played twice, they can't meet until the Sweet 16, and three or more times means no matchup until the Elite Eight. So sometimes teams will be bumped up or down one seed to avoid this.
California faces Maryland in round 2
Duke has no Big 14 teams in its half-region
Iowa State has no other Big 14 teams in its half-region
Purdue has no Pac-12 teams in its half-region, would not meet Virginia or Texas Tech until Sweet 16
Duke played Virginia just once, so that's not an issue. Iowa State played Texas Tech twice, so that's not an issue either. The only possibility is that Purdue would have been seeded where California was, so to prevent the Boilers and Terrapins from meeting for a third time in the second round, they bumped Purdue down and the Bears up. The NCAA link doesn't say, but I'd assume the bump moves in the direction that is smaller for the affected teams, meaning that if Purdue is the third or fourth 4, they'd move down, and if they're the first or second 4, they'd move up to a 3.
Still, it would have been possible to fix the issue simply by swapping, say, Purdue and Duke. (Obviously the committee isn't afraid of setting up interesting second-round matchups, like Texas and Texas A&M.)
I'd get into the other odd decisions as well, but let's be honest: we could live with the rest of the conference getting boned as long as the Good Guys got the seed they'd earned. For our purposes, the point is that yet again, the Boilers get less than they deserve. Here's hoping that Purdue makes it to Chicago - the one break they did get seed-wise - so they can extend a Great Lakes-sized middle finger to the selection committee next week.