INDIANAPOLIS — I’m inside a conference room in the NCAA offices. No, I didn’t buy a car for a recruit, or even a tattoo. I’m not sweating. I’m pretending to be half of Ron Wellman, Wake Forest athletic director and of 10 NCAA Tournament selection committee members. Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Dispatch is the other half, the smart half.
We’re pretending the regular season has ended and 13 automatic qualifiers have joined the field, which is the case during the real selection week by Wednesday. We just finished “conference monitoring.”
Each tandem was assigned three or four conferences and you are called upon by the chairman you quickly discuss what teams you think are worthy of consideration. If the league is so weak you’re sure only the automatic qualifier will make the field, you say “AQ” or “one-bid league.” Anyone in the room might be challenged.
Our leagues: Atlantic 10, Big 12, Ohio Valley, Southern.
During the presentation, I suggested the Big 12 should be a six-bid league and that Kansas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State don’t need any discussion. Baylor, Oklahoma and Iowa State merit discussion.
The next step: Every tandem works together to fill out a ballot of all eligible teams, leaving blank teams that deserve no consideration, clicking the “AL” button, standing for at-large (or in slanguage, ‘a lock.’) We click “AL” next to 18 schools, “C” next to 37. The other nine tandems did the same and we’re taking a bathroom break, awaiting the results of which teams will gain entry based on getting enough votes, which schools passed the first cut. The rest hope to make the NIT.