Mock selection committee: 1st official meeting
by Matt Zuchowski
In this, our third year on the mock NCAA selection committee, comprised of members from the CollegeRPI.com membership group, Kyle and I decided it would be a great time to write a journal detailing the behind-the-scenes work of our committee.
The members are as follows:
Chairman: Kyle Lamb, co-publisher for Bearcat Insider and writer for bucknuts.com. Kyle will represent Cincinnati as the athletic director for purposes of the committee. (Note: during the process, members are not allowed to discuss teams or conference' institutions they represent)
Nine fellow committee members:
Galen Clavio, a graduate student at the University of Indiana who works in the broadcasting field. Galen be will the AD for Texas Tech.
Ryan Glenn will be attending Middle Tennessee State University next fall and writes pre-game material for VandySports.com and occasionally covers the SEC for hoopville.com. Ryan will be the Vanderbilt AD for purposes of the committee.
Paul Kislanko writes for SEBaseball.com, and is a graduate of Auburn University, and will represent Auburn as the AD.
Andrew Kennedy is a Villanova graduate who works as a lawyer in Boston. Andy will represent the Big East Conference.
Christopher Moore is a student at the University of Wisconsin, and will be the Wisconsin AD.
Ali Nagib is a recent Illinois double grad with an MBA and currently works as a consultant. Ali will be the AD for Illinois.
Scott Schwartz graduated from the University of Texas, and then completed law school at University of Arizona, and currently works as an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. Scott will be the Texas AD.
Finally, I am Matt Zuchowski, and I am a junior at Marquette majoring in journalism. I will be the Marquette AD on the committee.
Also, Bill Harty will be helping the mock committee as a consultant, and when necessary as a moderator. Bill works with New Mexico State athletics.
Each Sunday up until Championship Week, the committee meets for a couple hours discussing which teams are on the dreaded bubble, which teams are in line for top seeds, and other teams that, for one reason or another, warrant discussion. Starting Championship Week, the committee will meet nightly in order to produce our final version of the field of 65.
After an introductory meeting last week, we started to get to down to business Sunday evening. An interesting discussion came up about Vermont, a team that symbolizes the effect the new RPI has had on mid-majors, as they are currently are number 16 in RPI, despite its best wins being over Holy Cross and Boston University.
The new RPI, for those who are not aware, was tweaked in the off-season to reward teams for winning on the road by weighting a road win nearly twice as heavy as a home victory.
Along with Vermont, teams like Southern Illinois, Miami-Ohio and Old Dominion are all above the magical RPI number of 33 despite having few, if any, noteworthy wins. This threshold of 33 is the lowest number that any team has ever been left out of the NCAA bracket. If some of these teams lose in their conference tournaments, the committee will have a tough job in determining whether these teams are deserving of at-large bids, and if they are in the 7-9 seed range or 10-12 seed range.
Next, the committee discussed the current standing of potential #1-seeds, and came to a unanimous conclusion that currently, Illinois and Kansas are in excellent shape to receive a precious one seed. The next contenders for the coveted top seed features Wake Forest, Boston College and North Carolina, as they all have very similar resumes and should be in the hunt for a 1-seed at the end of the season. Also, Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Syracuse could receive 1-seeds if they were to finish the season very strong and a couple of the top teams were to falter.
Two intriguing teams to follow in the future as far as at-large consideration is considered are Memphis and Indiana, who both possess strong conference records, yet have terrible RPI's.
Memphis seems to be hitting their stride, as they have won six of their last eight, including an impressive shellacking of Louisville this past Wednesday. The Tigers are 15-10 overall, 8-3 in Conference USA, but have an astronomical RPI of 109, despite possessing wins against St. Mary's, DePaul and Louisville.
By comparison, under the old system their RPI would be 75, which is at the borderline of at large consideration. If the committee were to follow the changes in the RPI, then Tigers would in trouble if they do not win the C-USA Tournament, which fortuitously is in Memphis this year.
Still, with games at Charlotte, and at home versus Louisville and Cincinnati, Memphis could pick up three more quality wins and not worry about having three or four games in a row in the conference tournament.
Indiana may an even more puzzling case, as the Hoosiers are just 11-10 overall, but a solid 6-4 in Big Ten play, and have a slightly better RPI than Memphis at 89. Along with that sub par overall record, Indiana is just 1-7 against the RPI top 50 and would need a couple more quality wins to be considered for an at large bid. With games coming up at Ohio State, at Wisconsin and at home versus Michigan State, the Hoosiers could also take care of business and put themselves in the field of 65.
Another team to keep an eye on is Marquette, which the committee believes needs another quality win or two to be in the hunt for an at-large bid. With games upcoming against Louisville and DePaul at home, and Cincinnati on the road, they have some opportunities to pick up some quality wins and put themselves in position to receive an at large bid.
Also, Charlotte and DePaul are both solidly in the field, and should make the tournament barring a major collapse. On the other hand, UAB needs some quality wins in a bad way, and likely needs to get to 10-6 or even 11-5 in Conference USA to be in good shape to receive an at large bid.
Still, despite being rated the number nine conference in RPI, Conference USA looks to have a good chance to get 5-6 bids, with there being an outside chance for seven bids.
Finally, Utah looks to be another team that will baffle the committee, as they have a 19-3 record versus Division I teams and an RPI of 18, yet only has only top 50 RPI win, over Colorado. Their seed could be anywhere from 4-8, and the Utes will be studied closely by the committee as the season goes on. Utah is a team that even our committee is firmly split about.
The committee's final order of business is to prepare two preliminary ballots within the next couple of days, a replica of the first ballots that will be prepared on Monday of Championship Week.
One of those ballots will contain up to 34 teams who the member feels would receive an at large bid no matter what takes place the rest of the season, or at least would definitely receive one if it ended today, and the other ballot will possess all other teams that the member feels should be considered. Each week, the committee will submit these ballots to gauge where the teams stand.
Once the ballots become official the Monday before Selection Sunday, 7 of 10 votes on Ballot 1 would get the team put officially on the "at-large" board. Any other team not receiving at least 7 votes, but getting at least two votes on the second ballot, will be put on what is called the "nomination" board.
Once a team is put on the at-large board, it is possible to be removed, although it would take 7 votes to remove them. Additionally, no automatic bids are assumed until a team officially wins their conference tournament, or like in the case of the Ivy League, their regular season championship. So in other words, if Illinois is voted on to the at-large board, they will remain one of the 34 teams until they were to officially win the Big Ten tournament, when another team would be voted on to the at-large field after they are removed.
Right before Championship Week, the final ballots will be submitted and the official placement of teams into the NCAA Tournament field will commence.
Next week, we will talk about the results of the unofficial first ballots, and give you some insight into the teams that the committee feels is squarely in the field at this moment. We expect there are approximately 25 to 30 of those teams, with many of them ultimately getting an automatic bid after their conference tournaments finish. However, that's why we do the work. Stay tuned!