The NCAA Tournament bracket is out and there were some surprises. Several fairly clear winners and losers have emerged from the selection committee's decisions.
Here are the biggest losers from Selection Sunday.
Oh man, first Michigan suffers the devastating loss of Isaiah Livers, then it gets rewarded with the most difficult path to the Final Four as the top seed in the East Region. Despite a brilliant year, winning the regular season title in the best conference in the country, finishing 20-4 and second in KenPom's efficiency rankings, the selection committee didn't do the Wolverines any favors.
Assuming a first-round win, Michigan would face one of two excellent teams in the second round, as the LSU/St. Bonaventure matchup looks excellent. Beyond that, 12-seed Georgetown is on fire, fifth-seeded Colorado is really good, fourth-seeded Florida State is excellent and that's just the top half of the region. Alabama, Texas and BYU are all dangerous teams, as is UConn with James Bouknight healthy.
The East is loaded and Juwan Howard's team will have to chart its way through a treacherous path to the Final Four.
Louisville was the committee's first team out of the tournament and certainly has the biggest gripe of those staying home. The Cardinals finished with a 13-7 record and had to deal with a COVID pause, but still finished 56th in the NET rankings and 54th on KenPom. That said, Chris Mack's team also only had one Quad 1 win and basically had a chance to punch its ticket to the dance against Duke in the ACC Tournament. The Cardinals lost that game, which appears to have ultimately sealed their fate.
Drake and Wichita State got in and didn't necessarily have "better" cases than Louisville, but the Shockers won the AAC regular season title and Drake went 25-4. It was tight, but it's hard to argue for a middle-of-the-pack ACC squad over two teams that had excellent seasons.
USC had its best season since 2017 and wound up ranked 14th on KenPom, and 19th in the NET, and was rewarded with the sixth seed in the West Region ... which also has Gonzaga in it. Several projections had the Trojans as a five seed but they apparently sunk on Selection Sunday. Now they're faced with the winner of the Wichita State/Drake play-in game to open things. If they pass that test, Andy Enfield and his squad will likely be greeted by third-seeded Kansas in the second round. Super.
It's a rough road for a Trojans team that is a ton of fun to watch and had a great season. It also means one of the nation's best players, freshman superstar Evan Mobley, could see his college career end shortly.
Another stellar freshman's team was dealt a tough draw as Oklahoma State and Cade Cunningham were handed the fourth seed in the Midwest Region. Cunningham had the Cowboys rolling late in the season and they looked like a potential three seed. The selection committee didn't see it that way and demoted them to a four in a packed region.
If things hold to chalk, the Cowboys will face Tennessee's elite defense in the second round. The Volunteers could muck things up and stifle Cunningham. If OSU managed to win, a date with a loaded Illinois squad that is absolutely on fire awaits in the Sweet 16. It's a tremendously difficult path for an exciting team that had won six of its eight final games, all against ranked opponents, and eight of 10 overall.
Cunningham may have to be an absolute superhero to carry the Cowboys through such a difficult path.