Each February for a few years, a select group of over 18 media members from around the country take part in a mock selection of the tournament field.
They take on the roles of the real athletic directors, in which they cannot take part picking teams from their own school or be affiliated with their conference.
Sounds easy, right?
Media members from the likes of ESPN’s Mike Tirico and Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune (in an article which Greenstein wrote in the February 17 edition of the paper that you could find online) took part over a two-day period. During each session which lasted over six hours, everyone in the room agreed about the first 8 teams: Kentucky, Virginia, Gonzaga, Duke, Villanova, Wisconsin, Arizona and Kansas.
What gets dicey is when they plug in each of the schools that have similar profiles. Just like when we go to vote every four years in the Presidential election, the thoughts of each member of the NCAA Division One Basketball Executive Committee is firmly subjective in nature.
The NCAA with their fancy computers will again utilize geography as its’ key point of emphasis (way better than wasting reams upon reams of paper like during their days in Overland Park, Kansas). The teams that those regionals are close to their campuses and natural fan bases will stay closer to come (i.e. Gonzaga in Seattle, Iowa State in Omaha, Duke in Charlotte).
Also worth noting is that wins by teams at home during the conference portion of the schedule doesn’t matter much. Non-conference and neutral site games early in the season, especially wins by the road team count way more than games during the last 2 months.
However, in some cases…a team that gets hot in the last 8 to 10 games has about a 50/50 shot at reaching the Big Dance as one of the last teams in, your usual 11 or 12 seed if you will.
To give it a simple comparison for any of the ladies reading…
It would be like watching your favorite reality dating show like The Bachelor and you see a guy that falls head over heels for a woman who has a steady career and enjoys the finer things in life–being a true social butterfly who keeps up on the latest and greatest fashions and tries to drink some wine every chance she gets. Other guys may like entrepreneurial ladies who don’t mind taking chances on making it big on their own in the world of small business and even pose for Playboy online on the side.
In the end, I have but one simple question:
What’s not to like?
For the Selection Committee, last week’s mock selection process of listing, bracketing, and seeding all 68 schools was like gathering at your house for Thanksgiving.
Selection Sunday is like Christmas for basketball fans.
Greg Gumbel of CBS Sports helps us largely untie those decoratively made bows and unwraps the boxes to uncover which 68 schools get invites and which schools sadly see their “bubbles burst.”
The overall process usually takes about 10 days, when the first wave of automatic bids start up in the smaller conferences. This is where the really big fun starts. Once the teams are seeded, then the real arguing begins in earnest.
Hope this explains the Big Dance in a nutshell. I welcome your comments.