Sunday, March 15, 2009

Picking field not easy


Mike Slive hears the outside world constantly debate NCAA Tournament selections.

People argue whether the Big East deserves two, or perhaps, three No. 1 seeds. They want to know how much this weekend’s conference tourneys may affect the bracket. Some contend greater emphasis should be placed on the final 12 games while others suggest signature wins simply should be the standard.

Slive, the ultimate insider, ignores the noise. As this year’s committee chairman, his job is separating those minute slivers and producing a 65-team bracket that reflects the best of the best.

In some ways, the job has never been tougher.

“Just looking at the coaches and media polls throughout the season, we have seen a revolving door, not only at the top, but throughout the Top 25,” Slive said during a conference call with reporters. “It’s shaping up to be a memorable championship from start to finish. It is also shaping up to be a stressful week for the committee.”


By this evening, the 10-member committee must select all 34 at-large teams and put together a bracket that is geographically and competitively balanced.

Fortunately for the committee, Slive knows his way around these discussions.

Four previous selection weekends have taught him how to decipher the nuances about standards, formulas, rules and principles the committee relies upon — even the unexpected. Slive, the SEC commissioner, was in the meeting room last year when word came that a tornado ripped through Atlanta, forcing the conference tournament to find a new site and revise the schedule.

He was there, too, when Georgia surprised everyone by winning the tourney and knocking out an unidentified team from the board just hours before the bracket was released.

Clearly, Slive would like the process to be more simplistic. He has repeatedly said the committee will base its choices on four factors: who teams played, where they played, who was injured and how they played.

The problem is that it can’t be so simple.

The 10 voting members must assess things like whether Oklahoma, which lost two games without the injured Blake Griffin, then its opening-round game in the Big 12 tournament with Griffin, deserves a No. 1 seed. Or how to seed Marquette, which has struggled since starting guard Dominic James went down because of a season-ending foot injury.

But the complexity of the discussions change when teams such as Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgetown or Davidson — all of whom were ranked during this season but struggled late — are considered.

Suddenly, road wins and strength of schedule and victories over Top 50 teams become significant factors.

The committee also has to make contingency plans when a team such as Cleveland State, the Horizon League champ, sneaks in. Or, heaven forbid, they have to revise the pairings because a team like Georgia makes it in Sunday afternoon.

To Slive, it’s just part of the business.

“I think one of the things the committee has to do is we have to take what happened during the season as the basis for our decision-making,” he said.


Matt Bowers 10 years, 10 months ago

I would love to have that job. It is simple to me. There are four factors: 1. RPI 2. The conference you play in 3. Wins against top 50 opponents 4. Where the wins were

There are a lot of teams getting into the tournament that have no business being there. On top of that, a team like Memphis who has only beaten Gonzaga does not deserve to be a number 1 seed. Whatever formula Slive says he is using, it is never just.

My top four seeds: 1. UCONN 2. UNC 3. Louisville 4. OU or Pitt

Number Two seeds: 1. Michigan State 2. Pitt or OU 3. Memphis or (screw) Mizzou 4. Duke or Syracuse

Just my opinion and believe me when I say, it hurts to leave KU out of the top two seeds. We blew that against Baylor.

Rock Chalk

okjhok 10 years, 10 months ago

What did OU do to deserve a 1 or 2-seed, in your opinion? When you look at it, their resume is pretty weak. Not a particularly strong non-con, didn't win their league, didn't win a game in their post-season tourney. Other than being highly ranked, they really didn't prove much throughout the year. At least I don't think they proved they deserve a 1 or 2-seed.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 10 months ago

Yes Yes Yes! It's selection Sunday baby! KU definitely didn't help themselves in the seed category on Thursday, but maybe the rest of the nation screwing up as welll might just help the jayhawks. The only teams ranked ahead of the Jayhawks that didn't lose in the semis or quarterfinals of their conference tourney's were Louisvville, Memphis and Duke, which plays today. Duke, was in the spot competing against KU for that final #2 so I think Duke gets it now just because off their final appearance in the ACC. These are my seeds and I think they are pretty close. I am pretty confident about the top 2 seeds.

1)Louisville 1)UNC 1)Memphis' 1)Pitt

2)UConn 2)Duke 2)Mich State-They get it because have a head to head against KU 2)Ou-Still don't think OU deserves this when you don't win the tourney or conference and lose to both KU and MU, but the committee will say two of their losses came without Griffin at a crucial spot in the season.

3) KU-But I could actually see the committee putting KU at a 4 (Arghghghhghhg) 3) Washington-KU has a head to head over them 3) Mizzou-They deserve a 3, but for some reason I think they only helped themselves one see spot so before the tourney started they were a legit 4 or 5 seed. Mizzou fans actually think they deserve a 2. LOL! Hell, KU 3 years ago won 14 out of their last 15 games won the Big 12 tourney and regular season and still only managed a 3 seed. Mizzou is not getting any higher than a 3. 3)Nova Probably gets this spot

4)Syracuse could get this spot or they could take KU's 3 spot because they have a head to head win against the Jayhawks 4)Florida State-They are legit and deserve this spot 4)Gonzaga 4)Wake Forest-They also could replace one of the 3 seeds.

I think my top 2 seeds are pretty much right on, but it gets a little tricky with the 3 and 4 seeds.I don't know, I don't see much difference between a 2 and 3 seed, butt I see a huge difference between a 3 and 4 seed. It's a matter of being on the top or bottom line. Very hard to tell, but can't wait for 6 est. If KU is a 4 seed I want to be in UNC's bracket whereever that might be. Wouldn't surprise if it was in the East since that is where they play every year.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.