Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - March 7, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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THE VOICE M AT T LE PAY • VOIC E OF T H E B A DGERS An interesting look behind the 'Madness' A s we reach the final week of the Big Ten regular season, the jockeying continues for seeding in next week's conference tournament. Meanwhile, college basketball fans, even the more casual observers, now find themselves trying to project the NCAA tournament field. This is when emotions run high with players, coaches, fans and even media. Who is in? Who is out? Who is shipped where? Why does one region look so much more difficult than another? For answers to those questions and more, please allow me to recommend a show currently running on Big Ten Network called "Inside the Selection Process." The program, anchored by Mike Hall, features Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News, Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, who for the last 20 years has been projecting the NCAA field with uncanny accuracy (Palm and ESPN's Joe Lunardi are generally considered the go-to guys for bracketology) and Greg Shaheen, former NCAA Executive VP of Championships. As the show's title suggests, the group goes into detail about how the 10-member tournament selection committee goes about setting the 68-team field. I have always been impressed that they can find 10 people who are willing to subject themselves to widespread criticism. Let's face it, no matter what the bracket looks 22 » VARSITY MAR CH 7, 2013 like, there will be unhappy individuals. Many will have a sizable forum to vent their frustrations. Still, hats off in advance to the dedicated folks who love the game enough to form a championship tournament. On a side note, imagine the scrutiny the football committee will face when it establishes a fourteam postseason starting in 2014. Oh, my. "Inside the Selection Process" attempts to put to rest some rather popular myths, such as how TV networks can influence the committee (they don't), and how a so-called national brand school gets the benefit of the doubt (it doesn't). When trying to figure out where, or if, a team will make the tournament, many of us tend to look at the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). That is fine, but the BTN panel warns us not to put too much emphasis on that number alone. Palm tells the viewer that the RPI is a tool to categorize rather than make decisions. "The RPI is not a decisive tool," says Palm. "Teams are not going to get into the tournament on RPI alone. They are not going to get left out on RPI alone. But the RPI is a reflection of the kind of a season these teams had, and it does sort of tell the committee, really, which teams they need to look at more closely." The selection committee chair- man is Xavier athletic director (and soon to be Georgia Tech's new AD) Mike Bobinski. DeCourcy relates a story of how Bobinski told him that he, as head of the committee, asked the members to put together what amounts to a bubble list. "They (the committee members) have been paying close and special attention to about 13 or 15 teams that would be on that list that would make up the back of the field, and of course, unfortunately, the teams that get left out," says DeCourcy. The committee looks at a team's entire resume, not simply where it finished in a particular conference. When figuring out whether a team makes the field, or what seed it gets, that team is matched against others with similar performances. "No team is viewed by itself," says Shaheen. "It's always viewed looking at other teams alongside. So when a team makes the field, or doesn't make the field, it is relative to the other teams and what they did during the season." Make sense? If it does or not, it is a good idea to check out the show. If nothing else, the viewer gets a taste of what the committee faces, and why a team gets sent to San Jose instead of Dayton for the first full weekend of the Dance. Of course, this show is more fun when you have good reason to believe your favorite team will again be a part of March Madness.

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