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Selection Sunday is tomorrow, which means we are ever so closer to the annual ritual of filling out a bracket in hopes of some office bragging rights and/or extra cash in our pockets.Despite the NCAA’s best efforts, many of us are still confused as to how the selection committee goes about filling up the 68-team field.
So we decided to put together a handy FAQ to quell those concerns when you get angry Sunday evening over your school not qualifying.
What’s with all the complaining? The committee picks the best 68 teams in the country, right?
Ha! Not exactly. The 68 bids are split up between 31 conference tournament champions (except for the Ivy League, which sends its regular season champ because it doesn’t have a tournament) and 37 at-large teams.
At-large teams! That sounds like the BCS. I don’t like it.
Relax. It’s 37 teams, not four like in college football. There’s less of a chance at the committee being completely off.
Oh yeah? Then how come [insert bubble team here] didn’t get in?
Well, the committee looks at a bunch of different factors to determine who gets in. Mainly, their record (overall, conference, non-conference, road, etc.), strength of schedule, RPI, and the eye test.
What the hell does RPI stand for? Sounds evil.
RPI stands for ratings percentage index. It is a metric that churns out a percentage by combining a team’s record (25 per cent of the formula), a team’s opponents’ records (50 per cent), and a team’s opponents’ opponents’ record (25 per cent).
RPI rankings are put together and then teams are compared to one another (strength of schedule component) by seeing how each fared against the RPI top 25, RPI top 50, etc.
OK. That doesn’t sound too complicated. It eliminates most bias and team-to-team differences in its own roundabout way.
Yes and no. The RPI isn’t perfect. It doesn’t account for how a team won, i.e. margin of victory, which means quite a few people would like the committee to replace it with Ken Pomeroy’ rankings.
Another weird ratings system. Make it stop!
Settle down. Ken Pomeroy looks at offensive and defensive efficiency numbers to more properly compare one school to another. Some argue these rankings are better because simply looking at won-loss records ignores the vast schedule differences between the 300+ teams in college basketball.
Well, why doesn’t the committee use it?
It does. The committee just places stronger emphasis on RPI, probably because it’s been around longer.
So who cares about this?
What’s this so-called “eye test” you spoke of earlier?
Even though a bunch of different rankings and metrics are taken into account, in the end a group of human beings actually pick the field of 68. Ultimately, whichever school makes it into the tournament has to “look” like an NCAA tournament team to the committee members.
Who’s in this group of human beings?
Former and current athletic directors and conference commissioners.
What do these guys know about college basketball that I don’t?
Not a whole lot. You have access to all of their resources too.
You know, this would be SOOOOO much easier if the committee just went on TV and explained how they pick teams.
Sweet! Where do I catch it?
I don’t have that channel.
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