The committee did Maryland no favors, but that was consistent with its consistent short-changing of the Big Ten. Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis apparently hasn’t learned the back room politics committee game well enough yet.
Not only are the Terrapins the No. 5 seed in the South, they will face a very tough second-round game against a California team that — like the Terrapins — often has under-performed this season. (Even South Dakota State isn’t a walkover for Maryland because the Jackrabbits love to shoot threes.) Cal is capable of losing to Hawaii, which won 27 games and is somehow eligible for the tournament this season but banned next season.
If the Terrapins make it to Louisville, they are almost certain to face Kansas. And that will be no fun. Bill Self’s team has played as well as anyone in the country for the last month. The good news is that if Maryland somehow survives that game, the bottom half of this draw is fairly soft.
Villanova seriously blew it by losing the Big East final to Seton Hall. The Wildcats probably would have been a No. 1 seed with a path from Brooklyn to Philadelphia if they had won that game. Instead, they dropped to a No. 2 (deservedly, though not behind Oregon) and now may have to face Big Five rival Temple in the second round.
The Owls will face a skidding Iowa team in the first round. Maybe the Hawkeyes will find the mojo they had in January, but if not, it will be Temple-Villanova. The Wildcats blew out Temple — at Temple — last month but no doubt would rather not face the Owls again. Temple is one of those teams that has experience, is very well-coached (Fran Dunphy) and on a given night can play with anyone.
The best story in the bracket is Buffalo, which will have a very tough time with No. 3 seed Miami in the first round. Three years ago, Coach Nate Oats was coaching Romulus High School. He was hired by Bobby Hurley in the spring 2013, succeeded him a year ago and then, just before his first season began, learned that his wife Crystal had lymphoma. She’s responding to treatment well, and the Bulls are in the NCAA tournament for a second straight year.
They won’t be there for long, but that really doesn’t matter.
The potential sleeper team here is Arizona, which hasn’t played well down the stretch but could give Miami a tough time in the second round if it doesn’t trip over Vanderbilt, which should beat Wichita State and got in because it played a lot of tough non-conference games, even though it didn’t win many of them.
Most likely team to stop the Kansas train to Houston? Miami — unless Melo Trimble can find his missing jump shot under the statue of Testudo outside the student union in College Park.
More 2016 NCAA tournament coverage:
Graphics: NCAA tournament campaign buttons
Fancy Stats: The most likely upsets for the first round
Fancy Stats: The top threats to beat the Kansas Jayhawks