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2015 NCAA TOURNAMENT: A FEW BRACKET THOUGHTS

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Making sense of Iowa's spot at No. 7 in the South Region and more.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1. The committee's getting shredded, but for seeds 1-9 I think everything was pretty much on point. You could argue a team up or down a seed here or there, but it's hard to find a truly objectionable placement among those teams (Wichita State at 7, maybe). So I'm going to guess the committee spent most of its time sorting the more important seeds and their first-round foes, as the automatic bids also line up pretty impressively with the common wisdom of the Bracket Matrix.

2. The bubble was shambolic, though. UCLA is a farce of an inclusion by what have typically been the NCAA selection committee's criteria: RPI, road/neutral record and record against the Top 50/100 in the RPI. The Bruins' best road win was at Stanford, who can currently be found in the NIT. Committee chair Scott Barnes offered a nothingburger of an explanation for UCLA's inclusion—talk of the Bruins "gaining steam," the "eye test," and all of that ephemeral stuff. It's a weird thing to say when there's no shortage of data on which to judge these teams.

Here's the thing, though: Barnes mentioned in later interviews that the committee also looked at stats like the Ken Pomeroy rankings (which we use extensively here at BHGP) and ESPN's proprietary BPI (which seems to try to accomplish something similar to the KenPom). To be sure, those are more accurate and predictive rankings, and UCLA holds up decently in them. Not beautifully, but higher than top snubs Colorado State and Temple—both of whom fare better in the more "traditional" criteria.

So, okay. If the committee wants to use those metrics, great! All for it! There's only so much control a team has over its schedule (and what the strength of that will be by the end of the year), but what it has total control over is how well it fares against that schedule, and for that you've got to incorporate score. Like, okay, let's say LeBron and the Cavs join the OVC next year. LET'S JUST SAY. Even if they go undefeated (they would), their strength of schedule only goes so far, their RPI only goes so high and they only get so many games against "résumé" foes. If they win all those games by 80 points, though (they would), we can properly evaluate this team as by far the best in college basketball—well, until the results are vacated, but you know what I mean.

But if that's the case, and we're using these better metrics, why on earth is Ohio State still a 10 seed? Yes, their "résumé wins" are light. But their advanced statistics are more along the lines of a 4- or 5-seed, and if we're granting UCLA that consideration, why completely ignore it with OSU? I don't get it.

3. Likewise, Indiana being in as a 10 seed (and two spots ahead of Ohio State on the full list!) is baffling. If they'd been in a play-in game, nobody would have complained. It's great news for Iowa's résumé, obviously, but what? Dayton as the last team in the field seems about 10 spots on the S-curve too low, especially considering the rest of the field at that point, and Purdue made it up to the 9-seed on the strength of... what, exactly? Beating Aaron White-less Iowa in West Lafayette by three? A neutral-site victory over play-in fodder BYU? The Boilermakers' four-point win at Indiana was their only road win in six tries over a top-100 RPI team.

4. But while the bubble looks like names were picked out of a hat, Iowa as the 7-seed (No. 27 overall) looks like this was pretty well set in stone before the Big Ten Tournament even began. Clearly Iowa wasn't done any favors by dropping the game to Purdue, but it's hard to think the Hawkeyes were ahead of Xavier, Michigan State and Wichita State before the conference tourney slates began—or that another win over Penn State would have given Iowa that push up to a 6. That probably would have taken a run of PSU-Purdue-Wisconsin, and if Iowa's out here beating the Badgers, well, that's a different Iowa team than we've seen all year.

4a. I'd be willing to believe Iowa was a spot or two ahead of MSU before the conference tourney, but the Spartans were on the other side of the BTT bracket and nothing Iowa could have done would have prevented them from picking up those wins over Ohio State and Maryland.

5. Likewise, it turns out we didn't need to worry about Iowa falling to an 8 after the PSU loss. Looking at the teams immediately behind Iowa, we've got VCU (who won their tourney and still couldn't push ahead), Cincinnati (who lost in the first round of the AAC tourney but wouldn't have seen an NCAA tournament team until future 6-seed SMU in the finals), Oregon (made the Pac-12 finals before getting hamblasted) and NC State (rocket-launchered by Duke in round 2 of the ACC). So technically Oregon and NC State had chances for game-changing wins, but they lost those chances by an average of 26 points. VCU hit its ceiling below Iowa. Even if Cincinnati storms through the AAC and earns a 6, it doesn't get Iowa all the way off the 7-line.

6. Ross has plenty on Davidson, but suffice it to say that Iowa's defense is in for a hellacious test. Davidson has a Top 10 offense in efficiency according to KenPom. So does Gonzaga. So does Iowa State. So does Duke. So does Villanova. So do Wisconsin and Kentucky. Obviously we're not here assuming Iowa's making the Final Four, and obviously facing nothing but chalk rarely happens to teams who make deep runs (especially teams that aren't highly seeded to begin with). But my goodness, this is like bringing a wooden shield to a chainsaw fight. Best of luck, obviously, but this usually ends in passersby being amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.

7. There's no easy 10-2-3 path to a regional final for any 7-seeds, but this'll do. Davidson and Georgia look about equally challenging among the non-B1G 10s. Gonzaga would be tough, but Virginia and Arizona are the real nuclear weapons on the 2-line. Iowa State's got some beef for not being a 2-seed, but I'd (barely) rather see ISU than fellow 3s Notre Dame and Oklahoma. This is basically as good a setup of opponents as Iowa could have asked for. Let's get after it.