NCAA Selection Sunday winners and losers: CBS, Bradley, Big Ten, Larry Bird, TruTV and more
The bracket is out. The bubbles are burst. The NCAA Tournament got real Sunday night as CBS’s “Selection Sunday” show revealed the field.
And as is always the case, with the telecast as well as the teams, there are winners and there are losers. Some shining moments indeed.
— Winner: Viewers.
CBS got through all four brackets in just 36 minutes. It should never take longer.
— Loser: Michigan State.
The Big Ten Tournament champion and regular-season co-champion Spartans are the second No. 2 seed, yet they wound up in the East with No. 1 overall seed Duke. Meanwhile the team the Spartans beat at the United Center in the conference tournament final, regular-season co-champ Michigan, is the last of the No. 2 seeds but landed in the West with Gonzaga, which is the weakest of the No. 1 seeds. Where’s the justice in that?
— Winner: The Big Ten.
Last year, only four Big Ten teams made the tournament: Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State. This year a conference-record eight made it — the most of any league. It was almost nine, with Indiana one of the first four out. And the conference scored two No. 2 seeds.
— Loser: The state of Wisconsin.
While Wisconsin outshined neighbor Illinois with a pair of teams in the tournament — both No. 5 seeds — CBS’ announcement-show analysts predicted early exits for both. Clark Kellogg had Marquette opening with a loss to Murray State, and Seth Davis pegged Oregon to begin with an upset of the Wisconsin Badgers. Of course, it’s hard to see Bradley, the lone Illinois representative in the tournament, knocking off Michigan State.
— Winner: Seth Davis.
In the first minute of CBS’ “Selection Show,” he said: “No one wants to hear me talk.” True that. And they went straight to the bracket.
— Winner: Larry Bird.
It would have been enough that Charles Barkley’s bracket buddy was a parrot named Larry perched on his shoulder — the envy of any pirate. But the coup de grace of the credit card ad from the ongoing series with Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson was the appearance of Larry Bird with his own bracket buddy, a dog he has dubbed Charles Bark Lee. Whoever set this up deserves a feather in their cap.
— Loser: Pac-12 Conference.
Remember when this was a national power? Just three teams in the 68-team NCAA Tournament. None higher than Midwest No. 9 seed Washington.
— Winner: The Atlantic Coast Conference.
The ACC trailed the Big Ten in teams to qualify for the tournament with only seven teams to the Big Ten’s eight, but three of the ACC’s seven — Duke, Virginia and North Carolina — accounted all but one of the tournament’s No. 1 seeds.
— Winner: Richard Pitino.
The East matchup of Pitino’s No. 10 seed Minnesota vs. No. 7 seed Louisville gives Pitino the chance to avenge the school that fired his dad, Rick.
— Winner: TruTV.
The first four games of the tournament from Dayton will be on this channel, which means basketball fans are encouraged to look up where it is again for the first time since last March.
— Loser: Bradley Braves.
More like Bradley Cowards. The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champs returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years overshadowed their own feel-good story. The athletic department tried to ban a longtime beat reporter from access, claiming he didn’t “promote the Bradley brand,” as if that were his role. The Peoria Journal Star’s Dave Reynolds said coach Brian Wardle — who gained national attention in 2013 for bullying a player at Wisconsin-Green Bay — accused him of “always looking for the negative.” Bradley rescinded its ban in the face of criticism but only after establishing its “brand” to be one of insecure paranoia and strong-arm tactics.
— Loser: Blue.
Michigan lost the battle of the Great Lakes State. Again. The Wolverines lost to the Spartans twice in the regular season. The last came Sunday in the Big Ten championship, a game they let slip away. With any luck, Michigan State and Michigan will meet again in the big tournament. And despite the loss, Michigan still got a No. 2 seed.
— Winner: Boiling Springs, N.C.
The town of 4,647 in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains had been best known for the natural spring after which it is named. But this week it’s best known as home to Gardner-Webb University, which made the tournament for the first time after winning the Big South Tournament. They are, by the way, the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
— Losers: Western Illinois and Chicago State.
The only two Illinois Division I teams that have never qualified for the tournament failed to qualify again this year — despite eighth-seeded WIU’s upset of No. 1 seed South Dakota State in the Summit League Tournament
— Winner: Kaboom!
Bradley’s young mascot, introduced in 2014 after the school went mascot-less for 14 years, makes his NCAA Tournament debut. And even though the team’s nickname is Braves, Kaboom! (yes, the exclamation point is part of his name) is a gargoyle, modeled after one of four atop the university’s Hayden-Clark Alumni Center. The name comes from Bradley radio play-by-play announcer Dave Snell, whose trademark call of slam dunks is “Kaboom!” Then again, after the hypersensitive pettiness on display in trying to control team coverage, maybe Kaboom! now represents an implosion.