this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
BIG TEN OUTRIGHT CHAMPS!!! WOOHOOO!!!
So, last night (3.3.14) BTN did an hour show on a look at the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee's process for selecting the teams and forming the Final Bracket. They also gave their own full Mock Bracket at the end of the show, of which I was not able to copy and show, but I'm sure it's out in the Deep Web somewhere. I do have notes on their discussions of how they did their overall top 8 teams (of which they had Michigan the last 2 seed!) but I've left that off, for now. If interested, I'll add it. It wasn't that juciy, FWIW.
Here's a run down of my notes and takeaways. Most of this is of course nothing for Headline News (too much Bieber to cover, anyway). However, the show was one of the more in depth looks at this whole process so I figured those who didn't view the show may want a bit more insight into the whole process. The first few topics will be of most interest to the die-hards, as a few of these notions may not be so obvious. The rule changes are what caught my eye the most. Without further adieu...Well almost...Some of this will not be edited and put into perfect sentence structure or done to my best writing ability and is done in a more note-sy/copy-paste way but with the time I had, I did my best.
Rule Changes: How the actual Bracketing is done NOW: Teams who've played only once during the regular season may face one another at the earliest in the Round of 32. The Sweet 16 if teams have played twice, and the Elite 8 if 3 times. Each of these "earliest rounds" are up a round from last year and previous years.
Also, the Top 4 of each conference do not need be split amongst 4 regions unless the teams fall within a 1-4 seed.
This allows much more flexibility in "bracketing" (my made up word) or making up the final bracket. This helps reward teams rather than lowering and swapping seeds, which was done far frequently in years past. This also helps make a more fair/balanced bracket, a major goal for the committee. *10 different teams were changed from thier original seed line last year to compensate for the rules previously in play.
With the addition of the American Conference, 32 automatic bids are now in play, up from 31; ergo, 36 at-large bids are available, down from 37.
The Committee: Ten Members, of different levels from institutions across the country (AD's, Conference Commisioners, School VPs, etc.). When discussing and voting comes up to make the final bracket, an AD can't vote for own team. A Conference Commissioner can't vote for Conference teams. Also, said committe members cannot be there to discuss their own team. When acutally discussing teams, one can answer only factual questions; no discussing their opinions. This keeps bias aside. Ron Wellman, Wake Forest's AD is Chairman. I wasn't quick enough to get the other 9 members, but Mark Holls, Michigan State's AD is on of the other 9 members.
The Committee will meet this year at the Conrad Hotel, Downtown Indianapolis.
Bracketing process would start at 4:30 on Sunday, 10 years ago. Now, early Sunday/late Saturday, scenarios are taken into account and preparing the bracket is slowly started. Also, things that "don’t make sense" in the final bracket, were very much considered and taken into account. Sometimes it's how it's gotta be.
Each member has a team sheet. Uses RPI…too much probably?! This is an overview of each team at a quick glance. RPI is misunderstood, to say the least. It's a measure of SOS (strength of schedule) and how you did against your schedule. 25% teams own record, 50% opponents record, 25% opponents, opponents records. They know it’s not precise, but it's is a tool. A "How’d you do against top 50?" measuing device. The top 50 generally is where most teams come from, it does make some sense. RPI alone won’t get you in nor keep you out. (Members Select up to 36 teams they "like" before weekend, and go from there.)
The Committee's "General" Schedule: Arrival of members is Tuesday. An initial ballet is handed in and Bubble Team discussion is on Wednesday. Preliminary seeding, the Top 8-16 teams, is done Thursday. Select and seed Friday and Saturday. Release bracket Sunday, derr. (The Final bracket is decided surprisingly late, apparently.)
Myths (Debunked): Jerry Palm says Conference Standings/Records, i.e. "where you finish" matters. See Iowa last year. Maybe Nebraska this year. Conference RPI was taken away a few years ago. He goes on to uses University of Virginaia this year as a basic example: They "only" played the top 4 ACC teams once, so in a way they’re a skewed team.
Mike: Committee sets up preferable bracket. The Pitino's won’t play each other for intrigue and ratings.
"Other Dude": Similar to Mike, CBS/Turner isn’t there with the committee saying "Set these soap opera storylines up!". They don’t know matchups beforehand.
Miscellaneous: 1 seeds are made/picked first. Pairings for National Semifinals are taken into consideration. No.1 overall vs. No.2 overall is how the Bracket is theoretically set up. Overall No. 1 will play overall No. 4 in Final Four, Overall No.2 will play overall No.3 on opposite side of bracket. Closer to home? Mileage from home, what region and cities are available and what the Regional Final city is in, are all taken into consideration. Overall No.1 obviously gets the best/closest Elite 8 game city i.e. Regional Final. Also, I think every seed is "snaked". The Overall No.1 will have also have the weakest No.2 it's bracket, so on and so forth down the line i.e. the "weakest" 4 seed, "weakest" 8 seed etc.).
Like noted above about making a balanced bracket, the Overall No.'s 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, and 4v5 games in each bracket are the ideal. This has not and does not happen because of the "bracketing rules". Again, some of which are changed but some will always inhibit the perfect bracket. Balance across 4 regions is crucial to committee but perfection is near impossible. "Theory vs practice" and "Ideal vs realistic".
Conference Tournaments are a part of the body of work, and "very much taken into effect, but not over-emphasized". Big Ten finishes so late, it's only a half-hour/hour before Tournament Selection deadline. Alternate scenarios are in play, of course to monitor what happens in Conference tournaments and championship games. UConn a few years ago seems to be an example; probably not "In" to begin the Big East Tournament but they won the damn thing but maybe would have gotten in by winning 4 or 5 games in said Tournament, instead they won all 6 (they won NC that year, see: Kemba Walker). Good conferences have good chances to get more HQ wins and build resume throughout their Conference Tournaments...Whoda Thunk it! It matters who you play; a "win" doesn’t automatically help; a team needs to beat a good team for it to stand out.
Bubble Teams: By Saturday they’ve been talked about for 3-4 days. The final few spots available are open through Sunday and Conference Tournaments are watched to help decide these last spots. Exactly how many slots will be left available is not known at this point, so scenarios/alternate selections are planned for so what happens Sunday is almost finalized by Tournaments' end i.e. fill in the blanks with winners/take out losers.