This week, the committee turned in an unofficial copy of the first ballot. This is the ballot that as of one week before Selection Sunday, will be turned in by each member identifying up to 34 teams that each member feels deserves an at-large bid.
Another ballot is turned in identifying every other team that particular member feels deserves to be considered for an at-large bid. It should be noted, that when these ballots are turned in, only teams that have already won their conference tournament, or the automatic bid in general, are excluded. Otherwise, any team that leads their conference and/or could ultimately win their conference should still be considered a potential at-large bid.
One important clarification needs to made regarding these at-large bids and how many votes they need to be put on to the at-large selection board, and that it for a team for to be on the at large board, they need all but two of the eligible votes. So basically, if all voters are eligible to vote on a particular team, a team would need 8 votes to make the board as an at-large selection, from the first ballot. If a voter is ineligible to vote on a particular team, for instance—Marquette can not be voted on by me, then they would need 7 votes since there are 9 eligible voters.
Teams that received all eligible votes in the first preliminary ballot are Alabama, Arizona, Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Pacific, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Utah, Wake Forest, Washington and Wisconsin.
The other teams that received enough votes to be on the board are Charlotte, DePaul, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Villanova. So, these teams and the ones that received all the eligible votes are unofficially at-large bids at the moment. Of course, this is only "unofficial" and the real process does not begin for two weeks. Any of these teams could also be removed from the board at any time if the committee feels it is necessary—however, it would need all but two eligible votes to remove them.
Georgetown, Nevada, Notre Dame and Southern Illinois were all one vote short of getting the "all but two" votes necessary.
As of now, the consensus among the committee is that Illinois, Boston College, Wake Forest and North Carolina would be the four number one seeds, with Oklahoma State and Kansas also in contention for a top seed.
As of now, there was also a general consensus that Oklahoma State and Kansas would be joined on the two-line by Duke and Arizona, with Kentucky and maybe Alabama having a shot to get a #2-seed.
Bubble teams once again proved to be a hot topic, with Memphis garnering a heavy discussion. Committee members were polarized on them, with people thinking they are either solidly in tournament, or have a ways to go because of an awful RPI.
Speaking of RPI, the committee will have both the new and old number in the room this year in the selection process when evaluating teams. The RPI is just one tool used to evaluate teams and not the final factor in determining a team's worthiness.
In the past, teams in the top 35 in RPI get in, and teams outside the top 75 have never gotten in. This year, Memphis, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech are all outside the top 75 in both the new and old RPI, yet each has interesting resumes that should get a long look if they falter in their conference tournaments.
In evaluating Memphis, fellow Conference USA member Marquette came up in determining if either or both are worthy of an at large selection. Here are some key numbers in comparing these teams:
Marquette: 17-8 versus Division I teams, 6-7 conference record, New RPI: 69, Old RPI: 55, 2-5 versus RPI top 50, 4-4 road and neutral court record, one loss to team outside the top 100 of the RPI (Memphis).
Memphis: 16-10 versus Division I teams, 9-3 conference record, New RPI: 111, Old RPI: 82, 3-4 versus RPI top 50, 6-6 road and neutral record, three losses to teams outside top 100.
Memphis has one more quality win, but two more bad losses. Each team has chances to boost their resume, as Marquette plays at Cincinnati Thursday, while Memphis goes to Charlotte, and has Cincinnati and Louisville at home.
These teams present what is likely to be a key theme for committee: will teams that are solid, but unspectacular be choice, or will teams that show some brilliance yet have some bad games be preferred.
Vermont impressed most committee members with their performance in the Bracket Buster game against Nevada, and most members agree they would deserve an at large bid if they slip up in the conference tournament.
Georgetown, despite the St. John's loss, appears to be in good shape. Meanwhile Iowa may have seen their at-large chances disappear following the tough loss to Illinois.
In next week's committee meeting, we will be discussing the voting procedures, as well as have the results of this upcoming week's ballots unofficial ballots.