Seth Davis: ‘West Region Teams Are Playing As Well As Anybody Right Now’
Seth Davis dropped by The John Feinstein Show on Tuesday for yet another contentious yet entertaining debate about the NCCA Tournament.
Davis was greeted as the “official apologist” – and later referred to as the “official spokesperson” – for the NCAA selection committee.
Boy, they did a fabulous job, didn’t they, Seth? Feinstein asked.
“Well,” the CBS and Sports Illustrated college hoops analyst said, “define fabulous.”
Feinstein argued that Louisville, Michigan State and Harvard were under-seeded, while Villanova and Creighton were over-seeded, and that it was wrong to leave out Green Bay.
“Well, good points all (around),” Davis said. “I think, to me, the main one was Louisville – and I said that on the selection show. What mission do you want them to have? Do you want them to predict what’s going to happen in the tournament?”
No, Feinstein said, I want them to be fair.
“So based on Michigan Sate’s regular season performance, the 4-seed is where they belong,” Davis said.
Feinstein disagreed. Committee members, he said, would take injuries into account, and Michigan State’s late-season swoon coincided with injuries to almost half the roster. Feinstein would’ve preferred that Michigan State receive higher than a 4 and Kansas receive lower than a 2.
“I think you take (injuries) into account, but to what degree?” Davis countered. “I think they’re probably seeded as a 4 based on how they played in the regular season. By saying, ‘Well, now that they’re healthy, we should seed them higher,’ you’re doing that based on how you think they’ll play.”
Not true, Feinstein said, I’m basing that off how they played in the Big Ten Tournament.
“They played pretty great,” Davis allowed.
“They won the toughest conference in the country!” Feinstein exclaimed.
Okay, Davis said, but Arizona went 9-4 without Brandon Ashley. Does that sound like a 1-seed?
“I think they deserved a 1-seed,” Davis said. “I’m explaining the slippery slope – of course, you live your life on a slippery slope, which is why I love you.”
“That’s the first thing you’ve said today that is correct,” Feinstein said, as Andrew Bogusch laughed heartily. “You’re now 1-for-12.”
Davis said he would’ve preferred Louisville as a 2 and Villanova as a 3.
“When you make a mistake the way (the committee) did with Louisville – putting a team that’s a borderline 1-seed on the 4-line – whatever region they were in, it was going to look imbalanced,” Davis said. “But part of the reason everybody went nuts for the Midwest was because Duke was the three.”
Indeed, the Midwest had three Final Four teams from a season ago, and Duke, which many thought could make a deep run with Jabari Parker.
“Well, Duke couldn’t even get past Mercer,” Davis said. “I think that undercuts that argument a little bit.”
In fact, Davis thinks the West might be the most difficult region going forward.
“You’re looking at Arizona, San Diego State, Baylor and Wisconsin,” he said. “Those four are playing as well as anybody right now. I think clearly the Midwest was the strongest region. Clearly it became imbalanced once Louisville got in there. But this notion that it’s so far and away the hardest region compared to everything else – I mean, once you get to this stage in the tournament, I think a lot of that goes out the window. I really do.”