NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday Review: The Case of the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide

As usual here at Garnet and Black Attack, we have nothing to celebrate now that the NCAA Tourney brackets are out and are merely left to watch from afar as our SEC East brethren Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Georgia each try their chances at a national title. (Sigh.) That said, we like to talk sports here, and Selection Sunday definitely left us with some headscratchers. Imagine that: despite increasing the size of the field, some teams still feel left out. Shocking, right?

In the SEC, the fanbase experiencing consternation right now is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Why? Well, think about this for a minute. Alabama finished 21-11 and 12-4 in conference, which placed them second in the league's regular-season standings. The Tide were left out of the field. The Georgia Bulldogs, on the other hand, made the field with the same 21-11 record and only a 9-7 mark in conference. Making the contrast even more stark is the fact that Alabama has recently beaten Georgia not once but twice, including a stirring come-from-behind victory in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. As one can see from the comments section at this post at Roll Bama Roll, the Tide faithful are a little resentful that their team was left out in favor of the Bulldogs.

What led to this turn of events? I'd say there are a few things that we can learn here about how the selection committee operates, although as a caveat it's important to acknowledge that the selection committee can be somewhat arbitrary. These points are all, as you will see, somewhat related.

1. The selection committee didn't weight Alabama's strong end-of-season performance any more than its weak out-of-conference performance. It's often said that the committee gives some preference to teams that seem to pass the "eye test" of being a tournament-caliber team at the end of the season. That doesn't seem to have been the case here.

2. RPI matters. Georgia far outstrips Alabama's RPI, which likely suffers from some of its ugly OOC losses and the poor SOS it faced in the SEC West.

Keep reading after the jump.

3. SOS matters. Alabama faced a very poor strength-of-schedule. That's partially not 'Bama's fault, as it couldn't help the fact that its SEC West brethren mostly stunk. It could, however, have helped its OOC SOS, and it chose to play a fairly underwhelming group of teams and looked bad doing it.

4. Quality wins matter. 'Bama picked up a nice win over Kentucky early in the conference slate, beat Tennessee, and managed the two wins over UGA. Other than that, though, 'Bama had very few wins against good teams. Georgia actually didn't do a whole let better in this regard, though. UGA had fewer bad losses than 'Bama, but its list of good wins really only includes Colorado, UAB, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Perhaps this issue played less of a role than some of the others.

So, at the end of the day, there does seem to have been some rhyme and reason behind the selection committee's choices. That said, you have to sympathize with 'Bama fans to some degree here. Their team beat UGA twice in the span of a week, which certainly seems to militate against the idea that UGA has the better team.

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