The first round of the NCAA Tournament features its fair share of scintillating match-ups, none more so, perhaps, than No. 7 Dayton (24-7) versus No. 10 Wichita State (30-4). The Flyers and Shockers square off Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET, with the winner to likely face No. 2 Kentucky (29-5) in the Round of 32.
Gary Parrish has mixed feelings about this.
“Dayton/Wichita State is, I think, the best first-round game; it is also the dumbest first-round game,” the CBS college basketball insider said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “It should not be a first-round game. Wichita State being a 10-seed is nonsensical. They’re eighth in KenPom right now. That means that according to a formula that replicates Las Vegas pretty well, there’s only seven teams in the country that would be favored on a neutral court over Wichita State, and what we know is that Dayton is not one of them.”
In fact, Dayton, the higher seed, is a 6.5-point underdog against Wichita State.
“That is a smack in the face to the committee that man, you got this wrong,” Parrish said. “Though it is disrespectful to Wichita State, it’s not really that problematic to Wichita State because what they’ll probably do is beat Dayton and then take on Dayton’s path to wherever they’re going. So they’ll take the role of a 7-seed. That’s fine. Who it’s really bad for, who really gets screwed when this happens with the committee, when they seed so recklessly and nonsensically, it’s Dayton and it’s Kentucky.”
Parrish might be on to something here.
“Suddenly you’re Dayton,” he began. “You’ve scrapped and clawed and won all these games to be Atlantic-10 champions. You get a seven seed, which means you should be playing a team that you’re better than, but really you’re playing a top-10 team according to some of the metrics that’s a 6.5-point favorite over you. That’s a problem. So let’s say Wichita State wins that game. Now you’re Kentucky. You’re the SEC champs, SEC Tournament champs, get a 2-seed. And now you’ve got to play a team that, at least one metric says, is a top-10 team in America? That’s not who you should be playing in the Round of 32.
“And so, I can’t wait for Friday night,” Parrish continued. “CBS, prime time, Dayton and Wichita State – that game belongs in prime time on the big network. You’ve got two of the great coaches in college basketball, two guys whose names come up every single time a power-conference job opens. But what bothers me about it is that it’s a game that should not be played in the Round of 64. The only reason it’s happening is because the committee drastically under-seeded Gregg Marshall’s Shockers.”