Since when did there become such a thing as a good loss? This year’s NCAA Tournament is both like and unlike every other year. There’s teams that deserve their place while there’s teams that likely don’t really deserve it. Hell, Syracuse marched all the way to the Final Four and they didn’t really deserve making the dance.
So there’s obviously some teams that we can take a look at that make us think this might be the most mediocre (or balanced) field in recent history. Besides the obvious teams from non-Power 5 programs, these are the teams that snuck in somehow.
Marquette. So they beat Villanova and Creighton (before they lost Maurice Watson), but who else did they beat? They lost a fair amount of bad games (St. Johns and Georgetown). They just played so many okay teams and not enough bad ones that it makes their schedule look decent.
VCU. Okay, so when you look at their 26-8 record you think they’ve gotta be pretty good, right? But look closer. They didn’t beat anyone outside of Dayton (who barely belonged) and they lost to Fordham, Georgia Tech (who admittedly had some good wins), and Illinois).
Michigan State. Tom Izzo apologized to his team early in the season about scheduling such hard teams. They played a tough schedule and didn’t fare well. But they didn’t fare well. Who cares whether they lost to good teams? Almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, right? They beat Minnesota twice (but lost when it counted most), Wisconsin, and Northwestern. Close losses and the ability to bring a brand/play an entertaining game doesn’t make for a tourney bid.
Vanderbilt. Fifteen losses! How is that okay? If they had won the SEC tournament then you could understand it. Or if they had just had a shitty start to the year and finished well (like another annoying college playoff system) which they did but against questionable teams (Florida and USC) . But they got trashed by Middle Tennessee and Marquette.