The thankless part of selecting a tournament field is that folks rarely go back and assess how well the people selecting and seeding the teams did after the event is over (or almost over).
You get to hear the gripes of how so-and-so should have been in, and how team X got hosed in its matchup initially – but rarely afterward.
It’s unfair. And that’s where this entry comes in.
Sure, seeding and matchups and selections were scrutinized a couple weeks ago. At this point, they can be assessed fairly.
There were only two matters anyone could have griped about when the bracket was first unveiled, and the committee’s work held up both times.
Maybe Virginia didn’t past the eyeball test for a No. 1 seed in April. But the Cavaliers have been exceptional the last two weeks, blasting their way through to Foxboro(ugh) better than even Syracuse and Duke.
All three happen to be there, so regardless of seeding order, they’ve held up their end.
The other issue was what to do with unbeaten Notre Dame and its Downy-soft schedule. While losing 7-3 at home to Maryland doesn’t prove anything per se, it certainly should silence any complaints about the Fighting Irish earning the No. 7 seed.
The committee wouldn’t have had any questions had Hofstra not gummed up the works and lost to Villanova in the NCAA tournament. No matter. Brown, with its defeat of Cornell got in. Loyola, with its plethora of close losses, got left out.
Brown was sent to Hopkins, which beat Loyola in overtime in the final weekend of the season. In turn, the Bears … lost in overtime after a substantially longer trip to Homewood, which is evidence enough for me that the rising Ivy League program was just as worthy of the berth as the Greyhounds.
If you’re on the committee, deep down you probably wanted Brown to put up a respectable showing. The Bears did that and more, validating their inclusion in the field.
Let’s start by going backwards. The No. 1 seed won its quarterfinal by 11 goals. The No. 2 seed won by five goals. The No. 3 seed won by a goal. The No. 4 seed lost.
Looks like those matchups were set up fairly well.
As for the first round, there’s still a case to be made that Navy’s profile came out a little bit better than UMBC’s, and as a result the two schools could have easily traded Triangle teams to tangle with to start the tournament.
That said, a UMBC team with a slightly less shiny resume gave North Carolina a good run before exhausting its fuel tank in the second half. Navy got obliterated at Duke.
The Midshipmen probably warranted a better fate. But even while taking into account a slightly tougher opponent, the Midshipmen did not produce a comparable performance to the Retrievers – offering a bit of validation for the committee in the process.
So in retrospect, maybe the committee should have sent Navy to North Carolina. Maybe. Otherwise, it’s tough to take issue with the work of a group that’s helped lead to an intriguing final four in New England this weekend.