Sitting out was SMU — a team almost all the experts had securely in the bracket, but not the folks in the conference room, who couldn’t overcome the Mustangs’ strength of schedule: 129.
“When I saw Louisville (was a 4 seed), I kind of figured that they didn’t have a lot of respect for our conference,” Brown said. “But we only can blame ourselves, that’s the way I look at it.”
Led by Rick Pitino’s Cardinals, the new American Athletic Conference placed four teams in the tournament.
And while the committee didn’t show much love for the AAC, it did dole out plenty of at-large spots to the big conferences, while only seven spots went to the mid-majors after they took 11 in each of the last two seasons.
In the South, Kansas got lots of talk about a possible 1 seed, but ended up a 2 in part because of those nine losses. The Jayhawks have to get through the first weekend without lottery-pick center Joel Embiid, out with a back injury, but could face a third-round game against New Mexico. The Mountain West Conference tournament champions got a surprisingly low 7 seed.
“There’s more good teams and less great teams,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “The difference between a 2 seed and a 7 or 8 seed is as narrow as it’s ever been.”
In the West, Arizona’s second game could come against eighth-seeded Gonzaga, which lost its second game as a No. 1 seed last year, or No. 9 Oklahoma State, which has one of the nation’s best players in Marcus Smart. The nation’s top scorer, Doug McDermott (26.9 points per game), is on the other side of that bracket with No. 3 Creighton.
On Virginia’s side of the East bracket are two teams nobody wants to play come tournament time — No. 4 Michigan State and Harvard. Yes, No. 12 Harvard, which shook things up last season by knocking out New Mexico for its first tournament win in 102 years of basketball.
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