Claremore Daily Progress


March 13, 2014

Selection Committee has some tough seeding to do

NEW YORK — The power conferences still have a couple of days before they reach the semifinals of their conference tournaments. That doesn't stop the chatter of who will get what seed when the 68-team bracket for the NCAA tournament is revealed Sunday at 7 p.m.

What has fueled the latest seed talk is the injury to Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid. A second opinion on his back from a specialist in Los Angeles confirmed the initial diagnosis of a stress fracture. He was told the best prescription is rest and rehabilitation.

That means he will definitely not play in the Big 12 tournament this week and the first weekend of the three-week NCAA tournament.

It isn't even sure he'll be back for the regional weekend should the Jayhawks get there.

What should the Selection Committee do? Do they seed Kansas based on the way the Jayhawks played with Embiid's inside presence or do they try and see what the Jayhawks might be like without him? It's hard to not be impressed with a team that went 23-8, has an RPI of 3 and won six games over teams in the RPI's top 25, the most of any team.

''The committee is well aware of those injuries. We will follow those injuries. We will get updates on the injuries. We already received a report this morning about an injury,'' committee chairman Ron Wellman said in a conference call Wednesday. ''We will be well aware of the latest information and whether that individual is going to be available to his team during the tournament.

''It is a discussion point with the committee, the injury reports, how that might impact the team. Again, it is up to the individual committee member as to how much weight they want to put on that particular injury.''

Well that puts some fog on the window. Everyone will find out the answer on Sunday.

Here's some other teams who have situations the committee will have to look at:

SYRACUSE: The Orange stumbled to the finish after opening the season 25-0. Their offense certainly became stagnant, but how much of that had to do with big man Jerami Grant playing with a bad back and missing some games because of it. With Grant the inside game is much better and he makes the famed zone defense even more effective with his length.

Once considered a lock to be a No. 1 seed, Syracuse is chasing a 2 seed, 3 at the worst and the committee has to look at how much Grant's absence meant to a team that has a 27-4 record, 9 RPI and seven wins over teams in the RPI's top 50.

VIRGINIA: It's not an injury that will give the committee pause over the Cavaliers, it's their schedule. Virginia won the Atlantic Coast Conference title outright for the first time since Ralph Sampson was in Charlottesville 33 years ago. The unbalanced schedule kept the Cavaliers from playing two games against Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse. It's not their fault, that's the schedule they were dealt and they did an impressive job. But Virginia finished with a 25-6 record, a 12 RPI and it only had 10 wins over teams in the RPI's top 100.

WICHITA STATE: The debate of whether or not the Shockers deserve a No. 1 seed is over. They finished unbeaten, 34-0, the first team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated since UNLV in 1991. Still, there's a nagging little itch that won't go away. The Shockers have a 5 RPI but their strength of schedule is 334. Granted, they can only play who is on their schedule but the Missouri Valley Conference didn't provide much opposition. Wichita State has one win over an RPI top 25, two over top 50 and seven over teams ranked 51 to 100.

MICHIGAN STATE: When the Spartans were fully healthy they were ranked No. 1 in the nation. Then the injuries started piling up. Adreian Payne, Keith Appling, Branden Dawson and Gary Harris all missed various amounts of time and Michigan State was watching the losses accumulate and the Big Ten title went to rival Michigan. No longer a team that will be a 1 or 2 seed, the Spartans will probably be a 4 or 5, but if the committee looks at the injury bug and seven wins over teams with a top 50 RPI, could they move them up a line or two?

OKLAHOMA STATE: There can't be many people who didn't see the tape of star guard Marcus Smart shoving a fan at Texas Tech. He was suspended for three games that were part of a seven-game slide that accounted for more than half of the Cowboys' 11 losses. Ten of Oklahoma State's losses this season were to teams in the RPI's top 50 and the Cowboys did beat five teams in that same range. Oklahoma State is better than its 40 RPI, but the committee is under no obligation to treat a suspension as it would an injury. Still, if the Cowboys get an 8 or 9 seed as expected, would you want to be a No. 1 seed who sees them in the second game of the tournament?


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