A topsy-turvy season in college basketball delivered a few more twists when the bracket came out Sunday.
Exhibit A: Oregon is a No. 1 seed.
As usual, the NCAA selection committee released a 68-team bracket with its fair share of surprises. This year, the debate started right away, when the committee named Pac-12 champion Oregon a top seed in the West, ACC runner-up Virginia a top seed in the Midwest and Tom Izzo's Spartans, champs of the Big Ten, a 2-seed.
They'll decide it on the court. The tournament starts Tuesday with a pair of opening-round games. The main draw begins Thursday at eight sites. The Final Four is April 2 and 4 in Houston.
In a season in which six teams held the top spot in The Associated Press poll -- one short of the record -- there was no doubt that there would be some debate about who deserved the four top spots. That Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference champions Kansas and North Carolina earned two of the spots wasn't that surprising. The rest of the field raised eyebrows.
The head of the selection committee, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, lauded Oregon's third-rated strength of schedule (as of Sunday) and No. 2 ranking in the RPI, along with its regular-season and tournament titles in the Pac-12. He said Michigan State was the fifth overall seed.
"Very close. It was a vigorous debate,'' Castiglione said. "We know how good a team they are. ... It was just a close call, and the committee felt Michigan State was fifth."
There were no easy choices for the committee this season, and the way the big slate of conference tournaments played out only emphasized the way this season has gone. Of the 31 postseason tournaments, top seeds won only 10. That gave automatic spots to bubble teams (or less) such as Fresno State, Gonzaga and Connecticut while squeezing out a few spots on the bubble, even though there were two more available this season because Louisville (and Rick Pitino) and SMU (and Larry Brown) are ineligible.
Among those sitting out include Monmouth, which played a killer nonconference schedule but lost too many games to bad teams; St. Mary's, which won the regular-season title in the West Coast Conference but didn't play a tough enough schedule; and Valpo, which ranked 49 in the RPI but had only four wins against top 100 teams.
"We are happy for the teams that will participate in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and wish them the best of luck," Monmouth coach King Rice said in a statement. "We are disappointed that we were not selected but are excited to continue our season as part of the National Invitational Tournament."
Of the at-large teams, 25 came from the Power 5 conferences, with 11 from the smaller leagues. Of the last eight teams to make it, the count was 4-4, with Michigan, Vanderbilt and Syracuse among the most hotly debated among the bigger schools.
"In the past, the committee has taken teams with wins, especially road wins," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "I'm not sure there's anyone on the bubble who had as good of road wins as we did."
Syracuse's road wins against Duke, Texas A&M and UConn made up for the fact that the Orange lost five of their past six. Boeheim missed the first nine games of the season while serving a suspension for committing NCAA violations, but Castiglione said that wasn't much of a factor.
Castiglione said the last bubble team to make it was Tulsa, which plays Michigan on Wednesday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.