Somewhere out there, if the many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct, it is still Selection Sunday. Somewhere, all of the conference tournaments are now complete, including the Big Ten Tournament, which in the particular parallel universe that I am following finished with a final of:
No. 2 seed Michigan State defeats No. 9 seed Michigan 79-60
Much like the first game this year at Breslin, MSU dominated. Winston scored a game high 24 points and eight assists, with Tillman chipping in 18 points and 13 rebounds. Rocket Watts had a strong performance as well, chipping in 12 points and four rebounds. For the second year in a row, MSU wins both the regular season and conference Big Ten crowns.
Just a few minutes after the Spartans finished cutting down the nets once again in Indy, the Selection Committee starts rolling out the brackets, starting with the Midwest, and No. 1 overall seed, Kansas.
Similar to last year, MSU learns their fate almost immediately, and also similar to last year, they find themselves as the No. 2 seed in the same region as the No 1 overall seed. Most prognosticators had MSU as a No. 3 seed, but the fact that MSU won the Big Ten Tournament seemed to give them enough of a boost slide into the No. 2 seed line over a team like Midwest No. 3 seed Villanova, who lost to Creighton in the Big East Tournament Final.
Looking at this bracket quickly, it is hard not to notice that three of last year’s Final Four all wound up in the same first weekend pod in Cleveland, including a rematch of the National Title game. Just like last year, Virginia is the higher seed and presumed favorite over Texas Tech. MSU draws surprise MAC champion Ohio in Cleveland in first round action. That could get interesting...
It is also notable that MSU could wind up facing No. 6 seed Iowa in the Sweet 16. With ten total Big Ten teams qualifying for the Tournament, it was inevitable that a few Big Ten teams would wind up in the same half of a region. Considering that MSU only played Iowa once this year, it was a natural pairing.
It is also notable that BYU was placed in the Tampa pod in the Midwest, almost due to necessity. BYU refuses to play on Sundays, and so they could only be placed into the West or Midwest Regions. As Gonzaga (as we will see later) was selected as the No. 1 seed in the West and BYU is the second team selected from the West Coast Conference, seeding principles dictate that the top two teams in the same conference should be placed in different regions. There was only one option remaining.
Following the reveal of the Midwest bracket, it’s time for the South Region, and its No. 1 seed (and No. 2 seed overall), Baylor.
Despite their close loss to Kansas in the Big 12 Championship game, the Committee decided to grant Baylor the No. 2 overall seed. Big East champ, Creighton, is the No. 2 seed and Duke checked in as the No. 3 seed. Dick Vitale immediately picked Duke to make the Final Four.
The South Region also contained three Big Ten teams: No. 4 seed Wisconsin, No. 6 seed Michigan, and No. 10 seed Indiana. The fans in Ann Arbor were irate that they were not given a higher seed after upsetting Wisconsin in the Big Ten semifinal. A peak at the final seed list showed that the Wolverines were supposed to be the weakest No. 5 seed, but do to a surprisingly high number of potential rematches that could occur in the second round, Michigan was dropped to a No. 6 seed. Now, a potential second round showdown with Duke and Michigan in Greensboro looms.
Moving on, the Committee next revealed the brackets for the West Region.
As expected, West Coast Conference champions, Gonzaga, claimed the No. 1 seed and San Diego State was given the No. 2 seed. SEC Champs Kentucky was also placed in the this region. Dick Vitale immediately picked Kentucky to make the Final Four as well.
The West Region also showed the first pair of bubble teams to make the First Four: Xavier and Richmond. The two former A-10 rivals will meet on Tuesday night in Dayton for a chance to take on West Virginia on Friday in Greensboro.
The West Region also features three teams from the Big Ten: No. 5 seed Ohio State, No. 7 seed Illinois, and No. 9 seed Rutgers, who is making their first tournament appearance since 1991 and seeking their first win since 1983.
Finally, as bubble teams like NC State, Stanford, UCLA, Cincinnati, and Texas held their breath, the East Region was announced.
As expected, the Dayton Flyers were given the final No. 1 seed, marking by far their highest seed ever. Their previous high was a No. 4 seed in 2003. The East Region also featured No. 2 seed Florida State and No. 3 seed Seton Hall.
Also in the East Region, the remaining pair of bubble teams: Stanford and Cincinnati were revealed, bursting the bubble of teams like UCLA, NC State, and Texas. Fortunately, the NIT is also taking place in a parallel university somewhere...
As for Big Ten teams, the East Region featured No. 4 seed Maryland and No. 6 seed Penn State, who earned their first tournament bid since 2011, and who will be seeking their first win since their magical run to the Sweet 16 in 2001.
As with any Selection Sunday, the revealing of the bracket is certain to stimulate a lot of debate and analysis. In the parallel universe, that will still take place and we will get a glimpse of it in the next few days. Stay tuned.