The one way you can tell if the selection committee goofed up the bracketing of the NCAA Tournament? Vegas is publicly decrying/mocking the outcome.
Or it's really angry.
And that's pretty much the case here, according to a story in the Las Vegas Sun. The reporter for the story, Case Keefer, tracked down some oddsmakers to get a litmus test on this year's field and how it pertains to Vegas lines. Usually the higher-seeded team should be the favorite, right? Usually the No. 1s, then the No. 2s, should descend from the top as the teams with the best odds to win it all.
But that's not the case. Because the Midwest is so loaded at the top, it's created an imbalance in betting lines. And with teams like Michigan State -- and especially Louisville -- earning four seeds, it's caused many in Vegas to lambaste the selection committee's outcome this year.
Four of the 10 teams with the biggest odds to win the national championship as of Sunday morning wound up being put into the Midwest. That almost never happens. According to the story, when you include Saint Louis and Kentucky, the Midwest has six of the 20 most favored teams in the field.
“That's probably the hardest bracket I've ever seen in my whole life,” said Ed Salmons, assistant sports book director at the LVH Superbook who oversees college basketball. “It was a comedy show to watch all the teams they stacked that Wichita State would have to beat to get to the Final Four. It was over-the-top insane.”
Salmons, the guy quoted above, also said, "The committee is a bunch of frauds. The way they do this thing makes no sense.”
There is a difference here, though. The selection committee attempts to seed teams best on what it's proven in the schedule, not what it thinks it will do in March. The NCAA tournament field is supposed to be reflective, not predictive. And that's why we can have inconsistencies with teams' placement in relation to their title/Final Four/game-by-game odds. There's also the issue of geography, which plays into the top four seeds' location. In an effort to keep the best teams as close to home/their fan base as possible, you can have situations where one bracket acts as a magnet for disparity because too many good teams happen to be all fairly close to one region.
One oddsmaker said fielding the tournament needs to be taken out of the hands of the NCAA and decided by the people who track the game the closest/most accurately: Vegas bookmakers.
Wynn Las Vegas sports book director Johnny Avello ... called the collection of power one of the biggest mistakes he had ever seen on Selection Sunday.
“I don't think the committee should be doing it,” Wynn Las Vegas' Johnny Avello said. “I think they should hand it over to the bookmakers.”
The bookmakers' first fix to this field would be making defending champion Louisville a No. 1 seed. Avello expected to find the Cardinals on the No. 2 line Sunday, but called even that placement “a really big stretch.” He would currently favor Louisville in a game against any other team in the country, and said the Cardinals were assured to give points in every contest on their way to the Final Four.
Wild. And I'd love to see how a Vegas-ordained bracket would look like right now. The story also details criticism of teams seeded below the big lines, like UMass at No. 6 and Saint Joe's at No. 10.
We get critiques of the bracket every year; it's native to the reaction process. But it's not often where we see some real authorities on which teams are best chime in and publicly denounce the selection committee.