This past week, a few of the Bleacher Report writers got together on Google+ and simulated what the NCAA Selection Committee does every year for selecting and seeding the teams that will partake in the NCAA Tournament.
What transpired was madness that is simultaneous only with March.
It was a long and grueling few hours that were filled with debates over how to rank teams, the final at-large teams, and the computer problems that could not help but rear their ugly head and slow down the process.
After it was all completed, I can speak for the rest of the writers and myself when I say that we all gained a greater appreciation for what the NCAA Selection Committee goes through each year; all the numbers on the computer screen can certainly become a blur after looking at them for hours on end.
The final bracket is done and here is everything that went into it.
B/R Mock Selection Committee: Joshua Gleason, James Sullivan, Teddy Bailey, Matt Overing
The Committee took place on Tuesday, February 28, so all standings and résumé were taken from that date.
Erving Walker and the Florida Gators upset the Kentucky Wildcats for the SEC Title.
The first thing we did was simulate the conference championships. Not many surprises occurred, but there were a few notable ones.
Arguably the biggest upset occurred in the SEC where the Florida Gators were able to get by the Vanderbilt Commodores in the semifinals and then knock off the Kentucky Wildcats.
In the Big Ten, the Michigan Wolverines and Wisconsin Badgers pulled the upsets against the Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes to advance to the championship game. There, Michigan picked up another huge win and the Big Ten title.
The Syracuse Orange took care of a surging Louisville Cardinals squad in the Big East Finals. After the Orange grabbed the Big East title and Kentucky lost the SEC title, Matt Overing stated that, “Syracuse should get the number one overall seed,” something all the writers agreed upon.
The other two one-seeds were determined by the winners of the ACC and Big 12, where the North Carolina Tar Heels beat their rival, the Duke Blue Devils, and the Missouri Tigers exacted some revenge on the Kansas Jayhawks to take the Big 12 title.
Here is the complete list of conference tournament champions and how a few other teams fared in their respective tournaments:
Duke Finals, Virginia and Florida State Semis
Saint Louis Finals, Xavier and St. Joe’s Semis
Kansas Finals, Kansas State and Baylor Semis
Louisville Finals, Marquette and South Florida Semis, Georgetown Quarters
Big South—Coastal Carolina
Wisconsin Finals, Michigan State and Ohio State Semis
Big West—Long Beach State
Colonial Athletic Association—Drexel
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference—Iona
Missouri Valley Conference—Creighton
Wichita State Finals
New Mexico Finals, San Diego State and Colorado State Semis
Ohio Valley—Murray State
Washington Finals, Arizona and Oregon Semis
Kentucky Finals, Vanderbilt and Alabama Semis
Summit League—Oral Roberts
Sun Belt—Middle Tennessee State
SWAC—Mississippi Valley State
WAC—New Mexico State
Saint Mary’s Finals, Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount Semis
Shaka Smart and the VCU Rams make it as one of the 'Last Four In'
After we had the conference champions, we went through the process of selecting the at-large teams to make the tournament.
This is always the most controversial part of the selection process that the media constantly rips. The basis for most of the criticism comes from high-ranked RPI teams left off. People need to understand that while the RPI is looked at such as in the instance of good wins and bad losses, which is evaluated primarily on the opposing teams RPI, it is not the sole factor in determining if a team makes the tournament or not.
Of the items we mainly stressed for consideration were whether teams challenged themselves in the non-conference and how they fared in those games, their road/neutral record, and the eye test. Numbers can deceive so it is also important not to forget how a team actually looks on the court.
Surprisingly, the at-large selection process went fairly smoothly for our committee. We listened to each others' cases for teams and in the end, agreed upon the teams.
Here is each of our last four teams in:
Matthew Overing—VCU, Xavier, Texas, Arizona
James Sullivan—Xavier, Cincinnati, VCU, North Carolina State
Teddy Bailey—Xavier, Cincinnati, VCU, North Carolina State
Josh Gleason—VCU, Xavier, Cincinnati, St. Joseph’s
Everybody agreed upon VCU Rams and Xavier Musketeers, so we automatically put them into the field. We debated on the last two spots, and after much deliberation, we decided on the Cincinnati Bearcats and North Carolina State Wolfpack.
The Wolfpack received the nod because they had a solid non-conference schedule that featured a win over the Texas Longhorns. The Bearcats got in mainly because they have played quite well since ‘The Brawl’ and have fared well in Big East play.
Here are the rest of the at-large teams:
('Last Four In' are underlined)
2. Michigan State
5. Ohio State
7. Wichita State
11. Florida State
18. New Mexico
19. Iowa State
20. Saint Mary’s
22. Notre Dame
23. Kansas State
25. San Diego State
27. West Virginia
28. Saint Louis
31. South Florida
32. Seton Hall
33. Mississippi State
37. North Carolina State
Last Four Out—Texas, St. Joseph’s, Oregon, Dayton
Next Four Out—Northwestern, Arizona, Colorado State, Nevada
Kris Joseph and the Syracuse Orange pray they can win the number one overall seed for the 'Big Dance'.
Now that the field was complete, the next step was to rank the teams. This is basically the preliminary step to seeding. It allows a structure for the seeding.
Syracuse did end up as the number one overall seed. The Duke Blue Devils, Kansas Jayhawks, Michigan State Spartans, and Michigan Wolverines took the number two seeds.
The rest of the rankings looked as such:
3. North Carolina
7. Michigan State
9. Ohio State
15. Wichita State
17. Murray State
21. Florida State
24. Southern Mississippi
27. New Mexico
28. Kansas State
29. Saint Mary’s
30. Notre Dame
32. Iowa State
37. San Diego State
39. Saint Louis
41. West Virginia
43. Mississippi State
44. Long Beach State
48. Seton Hall
49. Oral Roberts
51. Miami (Fla.)
52. South Florida
55. North Carolina State
57. New Mexico State
58. Middle Tennessee State
63. LIU Brooklyn
64. Coastal Carolina
67. Mississippi Valley State
68. Savannah State
For a better view of the Bracket, visit this link:
The Bracket was a long and frustrating thing to put together.
First off, while the rankings were followed as a basis, it isn't followed strictly for seeding. There are many factors that go into the seeding.
Providing balanced regions, at least amongst the top four seeds in each region, is the first step. On top of that, two other stipulations go into the process. One of those is that the committee has a rule where the top three teams from a conference aren't supposed to be in the same region. For the most part, this was easy to avoid, except for with the Mountain West, in which the UNLV Rebels and San Diego State Aztecs were both slotted in the Midwest region.
The main reason that UNLV and San Diego State ended up in the same region was because of another sticking point with seeding—location. The west coast teams are hard to seed because most of the 2nd and 3rd Round sites are on the east coast. While teams can be placed far away from their home, the committee likes to make sure the higher seeded team is closer than the lower seeded team. It doesn't always work out that way, but the majority of the time it does.
The other condition that is strictly avoided is games in the 2nd Round that are rematches. The committee also tries to avoid rematches in the 3rd Round, and we were able to keep that to a minimum with only a few possible rematches.
For the play-in games, we tried to focus on the teams that were deserving of the seeds for the play-in games but had weaker résumés, and therefore should have to prove themselves in the 1st Round. Here were the play-in games:
South 16 Seed: Savannah State vs. Mississippi Valley State (winner plays 1 seed Syracuse)
West 13 Seed: North Carolina State vs. VCU (winner plays 4 seed Georgetown)
Midwest 16 Seed: Vermont vs. Texas-Arlington (winner plays 1 seed Missouri)
Midwest 12 Seed: Belmont vs. Seton Hall (winner plays 5 seed Vanderbilt)
Finally, here were the top four seeds in each region:
Who will hold the trophy this year?
Hopefully everybody enjoyed this little insight into how the committee process works! Maybe this will cause some to spare the NCAA Selection Committee a little criticism this year as they put in the work to make a fair bracket with great matchups.
Follow me on Twitter—@MisterSideline—for more college basketball info!