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March Madness 2022: Ranking Selection Sunday's Five Biggest Winners

While we are still a day away from the start of NCAA March Madness Tournament play, these teams should already consider themselves winners after the bracket was revealed on Selection Sunday.
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March Madness 2022: Ranking Selection Sunday's Five Biggest Winners

On Sunday, the full 68-team bracket was officially unveiled for the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Affectionately known as “March Madness”, the NCAA Tournament delivers year in and year out in terms of excitement, nail-biting finishes and, of course, upsets! The unpredictability of 68 teams playing in a single-elimination format never fails to deliver some shocking results.

Every year, Selection Sunday ultimately puts to rest any number of debates involving a countless number of teams. To say that the NCAA selection committee is truly the best judge and jury to rule on such debates is silly, but we digress. 

Several teams won and lost big time on Selection Sunday 2022 as is always the case. This article discusses five of the biggest winners from Sunday night’s unveiling of the March Madness bracket.

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Five Biggest Selection Sunday Winners

Richmond Spiders

For the first time since 2011, Richmond will be a part of the NCAA Tournament. In fact, the Spiders were winners both on and off the court on Sunday. Seeded sixth in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, Richmond rallied late in the title game to upset top-seeded Davidson for the title. Winning the A10 Tournament was truly the only hope Richmond had of qualifying for March Madness, and they took full advantage. Thanks to the A10 Championship Game being played earlier in the day on Selection Sunday, it's impossible to not classify Chris Mooney’s team as one of the biggest Selection Sunday winners. 

Despite only ranking 82nd in the NET and 83rd in KenPom, the Spiders are headed to the Big Dance. Richmond has a veteran-laden squad with point guard Jacob Gilyard and forward Grant Golden utilizing their added year of eligibility to play this season. In addition, the Spiders could very well win a game in March Madness after drawing a far from perfect Iowa team in the First Round. It’s worth pointing out that Richmond was a 12-seed back in 2011 as well. That Spiders team went all the way to the Sweet 16.

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Michigan Wolverines

Juwan Howard may not be around to coach, but Michigan is in the NCAA Tournament nonetheless. Imagine winning just three games more than you lost all season, yet still being considered one of the 68 best teams in your sport. For that matter, the committee basically said the Wolverines are one of the top 60! 

Not only is Michigan in the field, but they inexplicably managed to bypass the First Four games in Dayton reserved for the teams that just barely make the tournament. A 17-14 record on the season was enough to land Michigan an 11-seed and a First Round date with Colorado State. Yup, the Wolverines even get to open up against a non-power conference opponent. What a joke! The real joke, however, is the fact that Indiana does have to go to Dayton for a First Four game after beating none other than Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.

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Big Ten Conference

Upon further review, Michigan was far from the only Big Ten Conference team to “win” on Selection Sunday. As a matter of fact, the entire conference was a winner. The Big Ten has been overhyped and overrated all season long just like a year ago when its schools dropped out one by one during the first weekend. Well, that didn’t stop the committee from giving out nearly 25% of the 36 available at-large bids to Big Ten teams yet again in 2022.

Honestly, given that the conference has so much depth, the problem isn’t even necessarily the fact that a whole host of Big Ten teams got into March Madness. The real reason the conference was a winner is that almost every team included is overseeded. We already documented Michigan’s situation. Co-regular-season champ Wisconsin is another one that stands out. The Badgers also were one-and-done in the conference tournament, yet drew the 3-seed in what is by far the weakest of the four regions. 

Purdue scoring a 3-seed and Illinois landing as a 4-seed are also both stretches relative to where the two teams stack up in the KenPom ratings. Oh, and then there’s Ohio State, which only went 5-5 against Quad I and Quad II opponents this season, finished 19-11, and drew a 7-seed. Just like in football, the Big Ten sure knows how to generate a falsified hype train.

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Providence Friars

All credit to Ed Cooley and his Providence team for capturing the program’s first-ever Big East regular-season championship. Onlookers then watched as the Friars were blown out in the conference tournament by Creighton. While Providence has had a remarkable season, they have caught numerous breaks and pulled out a number of close finishes along the way. None of that prevented them from being one of the biggest winners of Selection Sunday.

How was Providence a winner on Sunday, you ask? Well, let’s break it down. According to the College Basketball NET Rankings, the Friars stack up as the 33rd-best team in the country. Providence is well below that according to KenPom’s overall rankings, where the Friars only sit 49th. Then there’s the selection committee, who apparently views Providence as one of the 16 best teams in college basketball as they gave them the 4-seed in the Midwest Region. Yup, that’s a big-time Selection Sunday dub.

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Arizona Wildcats

With pre-tournament betting odds of +600 to win the national championship, Arizona is clearly viewed as a viable contender in the eyes of many. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Wildcats would be a 1-seed in March Madness, especially after they captured the Pac-12 Tournament title Saturday night. Where Arizona truly became a winner on Selection Sunday was in the perceived path to the Final Four. Despite not being the overall No. 1 seed, the Wildcats received a very manageable region and are poised for a deep tournament run.

Arizona’s first power conference opponent would come in the Second Round against either Seton Hall or TCU. If chalk holds, the Wildcats would face Illinois in the Sweet 16. Although still talented, the Illini pales in comparison to last year’s team which bowed out from the NCAA Tournament on the very first weekend. Thus, Tommy Lloyd and Arizona won’t face a true championship contender until the Elite 8 at the very earliest. That right there is a Selection Sunday win. Now, it’s time to Bear Down!

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Henry has had a passion for sports that few can match for as long as he can remember. What started out as a five-year-old taking interest in the New York Jets and their green jerseys has since become a full-fledged career as a writer and sports betting analyst. His coverage primarily includes the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, college football, and college basketball. In 2020, he ranked among the top-10 most accurate experts ATS in the BettingPros NFL season contest. You can follow Henry’s sports work on Twitter and other social media platforms @HankTimeSports.


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