As long as there's a group of people deciding who makes the NCAA tournament and what seed each team gets, there will be a debate about who got the short end of the stick and who should be sending each committee member a thank-you card. While there are no right answers to this debate, BPI allows us to take an objective look at the four teams helped by the committee the most, and the four hurt the most.
As you fill out your bracket, here are the pertinent decisions to consider. For more on our methodology for determining best/worst draws, click here.
Four who were hurt by their draw
Committee effect: -2.9% win championship and -5.1% to make Final Four
BPI views Duke as the third-best team in the country going forward. The Blue Devils' résumé was viewed as ninth-strongest by Strength of Record, so a 2-seed doesn't seem like it should really be much of a snub. So what's going on here?
Most importantly, the Midwest Region has 3 of the best 8 teams in the country per BPI (Duke, Michigan State, Kansas). Beyond having a difficult 3-seed (MSU) and 1-seed (Kansas) in its bracket path, the regional final location of Omaha hurts the Blue Devils. Had Duke been a 2-seed in the East (Boston) or the South (Atlanta), it would have given the Devils a shorter distance to travel, and a chance to compete with Villanova or Virginia in terms of the partisan crowd. Even if Duke were in the West Region with Xavier, the Blue Devils would be at no travel/crowd disadvantage in an Elite Eight matchup. Instead, The potential of playing Kansas in Nebraska was the worst draw Duke could have asked for.
Committee effect: -1.5% win championship and -5.5% to make Final Four
As mentioned, the Midwest is stacked at the top. Though the committee added five new metrics to the top of team sheets this year, Michigan State being a 3-seed only makes sense when looking at RPI. Among the predictive ratings, the Spartans finished sixth overall in BPI, sixth in KenPom, fourth in Sagarin and third in ESPN's Strength of Record (SOR). While playing the first and second rounds in Detroit is some consolation for Michigan State, the stacked Midwest Region wipes much of that advantage away.
Committee effect: - 0.6% win championship and -5.9% to make Final Four
Per BPI, the South Region has the No. 2 (Virginia) and No. 5 (Cincinnati) overall teams. As noted by coach John Calipari, the Wildcats have to travel all the way to Boise for the opening weekend, and should they survive the Davidson game and meet Arizona, the Tucson team will receive a boost from playing much closer to Pac-12 country than the Lexington team. (Although yes, we certainly know UK fans travel well). Should Calipari's group survive until the second weekend, the No. 1 overall seed Virginia Cavaliers will likely be waiting.
Committee effect: - 0.5% win championship and -2.2% to make Final Four
Arizona could have gotten the West Region draw instead of fellow 4-seed Gonzaga, but instead will have to travel to Atlanta if it reaches the Sweet 16. Beating Virginia in the Sweet 16 would have been a tall order anyway, but traveling across the country to meet Virginia before a pro-Cavaliers crowd will be even tougher.
Four who were helped by their draw
Committee effect: +6.2% win championship, +4.3% make Final Four
The committee is supposed to reward the No. 1 overall seed, and this year, it deserves credit for doing just that. While BPI views potential Elite Eight opponent Cincinnati as the best 2-seed in the tournament, BPI would have had 3-seed Tennessee, 4-seed Arizona, and 5-seed Kentucky as closer to 4, 5, and 6 seeds, respectively. The biggest reward for Virginia might come in playing the West Region champion in San Antonio, should it reach the Final Four for the first time since 1984. Potential Final Four opponent Xavier, the final No. 1 seed, is only the 13th-best team per BPI.
Committee effect: +0.7% win championship, +14% make Final Four
While Gonzaga was BPI's favorite to win the title last year, followed closely by eventual champ North Carolina, the Zags only have a 2.8 percent chance to win it all this year, which is ninth best. The real help Gonzaga received was in its chances to return to the Final Four -- the Zags are the West Region's second-most likely team to get there, after North Carolina. As mentioned, the West has the weakest No. 1 seed in Xavier, and Gonzaga gets to stay in the Pacific time zone should it make it to the second weekend in L.A. The only other team in the West Region that is from the Pacific time zone is 11-seed San Diego State.
Committee effect: +0.7% win championship, +6.0% make Final Four
As mentioned, Kansas would stay very close to home for the second weekend, and what's more, the Jayhawks don't have to leave their home state for the first weekend. Virginia would have farther to travel to its regional in Atlanta (440 miles) than Kansas would have to travel combined the first two weekends combined (305 miles). While Kansas may have a tough draw should its path cross that of Michigan State or Duke, the extra crowd advantage by playing close to home will give the Jayhawks a nice boost.
Committee effect: +0.6% win championship, +6.2% make Final Four
How could Xavier benefit from the committee's bracketing choices, while Gonzaga also benefited from being in the same region as Xavier? Simple, Xavier's résumé is better than its forecasted strength -- the Musketeers are lucky to be a 1-seed -- and so their path is slightly easier. Winning the Big East regular season title was a great accomplishment and surely a large reason why Xavier landed the four No. 1 seed. But, resume' aside, Xavier is the third-weakest No. 1 since 2008, according to BPI. While the Muskies are in a disadvantageous location for a potential regional final (Los Angeles), getting a 1 seed in itself is a gift from the committee they should not take for granted.
The Basketball Power Index (BPI) is able to predict whom the committee would select into the tournament and what seed they would give each team. Before the bracket was announced, BPI ran 10,000 simulations of selecting and seeding the bracket based on what it has learned by the committee's decisions over the past 10 years. Before the bracket was announced, we ran the BPI numbers on who would win the NCAA tournament and then repeated the exercise once the date and location of every potential matchup in the field of 68 was announced. Comparing the two tells us how the committee's selection, seeding, and placement decisions affected each team's dream of cutting down the nets on April 2nd.