A Look Inside the Selection Process:

Now in our fourth season, a group of ten guys from the College RPI member group have formed a mock selection committee and emulate the process of putting together an NCAA Tournament Field. In the past three seasons, we have gotten 100 of the 102 at large selections correct and last seasons had 58 of 65 teams within one seed.

Now in our fourth season, a group of ten guys from the College RPI member group have formed a mock selection committee and emulate the process of putting together an NCAA Tournament Field. In the past three seasons, we have gotten 100 of the 102 at large selections correct and last seasons had 58 of 65 teams within one seed.

Kyle Lamb, a writer for Bucknuts.com and Bucknuts the Magazine covering Ohio State athletics, has been chairman of the committee all four years and has continually led the group in attempting to be as accurate as possible.

"I think it's a combination of factors based on research, hard work and constant learning of the committee's principals and rationale," Lamb states on how the committee has able to reach these accurate levels. "I think we've all gotten into the minds of what these 10 people are thinking on Selection Sunday, and it's shown in a large part with our results."

Before Sunday night's meetings, each committee member submitted their ballot of teams they felt have already earned an at large bid, and ballot of other teams that should be considered. Now, each committee member represents a school (mine being Marquette) and cannot officially vote for them or participate in any official discussions about them unless a specific question is posed to you.

This season, with the bubble being so soft, and so many teams lacking quality wins and playing poor schedules, filling the 34 at large spots and properly seeding teams will be very difficult. Still, with Selection Sunday less than a week away, business must begin.

In Sunday's meeting, the first official ballots were cast, and the following teams have been determined to be locks on the first ballot.

Unanimous Selections:
· Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, George Washington, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, LSU, Marquette, Memphis, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Villanova, Washington, West Virginia, Wichita State

These teams also received the necessary votes (all but two of the eligible voters) to be on the ballot:
· Florida, Nevada, North Carolina State, Wisconsin

As the week goes on, teams will continued to be voted whenever a spot on the at large board opens up. After all of the at large spots have been filled, which usually happens late Saturday night, teams are then placed on an S Curve that ranks the teams 1-65, with each group of four teams forming a seed line, 1-16, with teams 64-65 facing off in the Play-In game.

A team can be moved up or down one seed line in order to ensure that no team from the same conference will meet until the Sweet 16, and potential match-ups between teams from the same conference generally can't take place until the Elite 8. However, should the Big East place 9 teams into the field, they will have to a potential Sweet 16 match-up, and thus the change in the rule from previous reasons when conference members could not meet until the Elite 8.

In order to complete the Field of 65, all 31 conferences will receive an automatic bid and these teams will join the 34 at large teams in the NCAA Tournament. The following teams have won their conference tournaments and qualified for the NCAA Tournament:

· Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Davidson (Southern), Murray State (Ohio Valley), Pennsylvania (Ivy), Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley)

The remaining 25 conferences will hand out their automatic bid to the winner of their conference tournaments during what has been dubbed Championship Week.

As the meeting continued, six slots on the at large board needed to be determined and the next round of voting filled the remaining open slots on the at large board. Arizona, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Missouri State and Northern Iowa completed the 34 teams that currently sit on the at large board.

After Missouri State made the at large board, a discussion ensued about the worthiness of their inclusion. With an RPI of 21, 8-6 road and neutral record, 5 top 60 wins and an 8-2 finish in their last ten games, the Bears appear to have a strong resume.

However, even though their RPI under the old system would be in the proverbial safe zone at 29, as no one has ever missed the field with an RPI of 33 or better, some members wondered if it was too early to put them on the board. In the end, a motion to remove Missouri State from the at large board soundly failed, and the committee strongly believes the Bears will receive an at large bid.

"Missouri State is a team that might be seeded lower relatively speaking than some of the teams that they were selected ahead of, but the consensus was that they are a safe pick having no losses outside the top 50 and would be ultimately picked sooner or later," adds Lamb. "In essence, Missouri State was rewarded not necessarily for what they did, but what they didn't do - lose any games they shouldn't have. Therefore, while the timing might not have been justified, the end will justify the means."

As the week progresses and teams from the at large board win the automatic bids in their respective conference tournaments, teams from the nomination board will fill the remaining open spots. Eight spots currently project to open up, although that number could decrease if George Washington, Gonzaga and Memphis lose in their conference tournaments, and will be filled by some of the following teams that currently sit on the nomination board.

· Air Force, Alabama, Bradley, Bucknell, BYU, California, Charlotte, Colorado, Creighton, Florida State, George Mason, Hofstra, Houston, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Old Dominion, Saint Joseph's, San Diego State, Seton Hall, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas A&M, UAB, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Virginia, UNC-Wilmington, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Now, some of these teams will likely win their conference tournaments and earn their way into the Field of 65. Hofstra and UNC-Wilmington meet in the finals of the Colonial Tournament on Monday, and both Western Kentucky and Wisconsin-Milwaukee play for an automatic bid Tuesday night.

Throughout this hectic week, there will be many a heated discussion, and the annual top mid-major versus middle of the pack major conference team debate will once again commence. Differentiating which teams from this admittedly nondescript pack belong in the field will be a strenuous task, but one that the committee will gladly undergo.

"There's obviously no magical solution, but it's just being aware of every record, every stat and familiarizing yourself with every team and leaving no stone unturned and no angle undiscovered," states Lamb. "Eventually, if you hammer on each team, each seed and each bracketing possibility enough, you come to a consensus that everyone can be happy with and thus replicate the final product you see on CBS."

To follow the committee's progression throughout the week, check out http://mockcommittee.blogspot.com for all of the updated results, including our final bracket on Selection Sunday.


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