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Bad News For Bama In Mock Tourney Selection

The NCAA just wrapped up its annual mock tournament selection seminar and the process was eye-opening for SI.com’s Seth Davis.  It could also prove to be bad news for Alabama fans.

Each year, the NCAA invites a number of media members to Indianapolis and walks them through the process of selecting the NCAA tourney field.  The journalists have the same type information available to them that the actual selection committee will use next month.  They follow the same guidelines.  They complete tasks in the same order.

Davis — one of the nation’s top basketball writers — learned a few things during this year’s meeting.  First, he learned that strength of schedule matters in the bid process… a lot.  Second, he now feels it will be impossible in an expanded, 68-team field to prevent teams from the same conference from meeting prior to the regional final round.  Third, he also pointed out that committee members pay special attention to a team’s success against RPI top 50 teams.

Turning things to the SEC, Davis also delivers what might be some bad news for Alabama fans:


“There will never be clarity over just how much emphasis the committee places on how a team performs down the stretch as opposed to early in the season.  Two years ago, the committee removed the record in the last 12 games as a piece of criteria because they thought it was misleading.  The NCAA wants the games in November to count just as much as the ones in February and March.  Again, I disagree.  Alabama is a great example.  The Crimson Tide played poorly in November, but then Anthony Grant suspended his best player for a few games, and after that player returned the team took off.  Now they’ve won 13 out of 15, including at home over Kentucky and on the road at Tennessee.  To me, that’s an NCAA Tournament team, but I was obviously in the minority because the Tide were left out.  At any rate, if the committee’s mission is to select the ‘best’ 37 at-large teams, then it only makes sense to give extra emphasis to the way the team is playing late in the season.”


But how much emphasis qualifies as “extra” emphasis?  Make no mistake, the selection committee does consider how a team finishes.  It has to.  There is no way for Leonardo DiCaprio to incept his way into committee members’ minds and remove recent scores and results from their brains.  Therefore that info has to play some role in the process at some level.

Also, the committee is in a room together for one weekend — conference tournament weekend.  Those league tourney games are the only games all year when committee members can watch together, discuss the outcomes, have their eyes opened by these teams, and roll their eyes at those teams.  Losing in the conference tourney might not be devastating, but getting bombed in the conference tournament can be.

The NCAA’s attempt to explain the selection process is a good move.  It helps fans and media understand how things play out inside the NCAA’s cones of silence.  But it’s not gospel.  There are still plenty of games left to be played.  And committee members — unlike the media at this week’s seminar — won’t be working on the double-quick.  So what was bad news for Bama this past week might not be bad news in a couple of weeks.

For the record, here are the bids and seeds received by the SEC:


Florida — 3rd seed in the East Regional

Kentucky — 4th seeds in the Southwest Regional

Vanderbilt — 4th seed in the West Regional

Tennessee — 7th seed in the Southeast Regional

Georgia — In a play-in game with Butler for the 11th seed in the Southwest Regional


(Just remember who’s been telling ya “five bids” while everyone else has been saying “six.”  That’d be us, in case you didn’t actually remember.)

For more on this topic, check SI.com’s report from Andy Staples here.  He believes “the committee relies entirely too much on the RPI.”

 


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