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Tag:NCAA tournament
Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:29 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:37 pm
 

This is how the NCAA should rank its teams

A snapshot of the mock meetings last week in Indianapolis. (NCAA)

By Matt Norlander


Let's see possibility. Let's see what the NCAA could ultimately be using, should it choose to cast a wider net in its database. Let's see fairness and true objectivity and less room for error in picking and seeding 68 teams into this behemoth of a bracket that takes over millions of American' lives in March.

I wrote last week how every metric officially referenced on the NCAA's Nitty Gritty sheets, in team sheets and on reports only relates to the RPI. It's a problem. The Selection Committee does a lot of things right. The few things it does wrong, it stands to reason, alter the master seed list or create inconsistencies in final selection.

The NCAA and its Selection Committee don't shun the use of other metrics. They just don't endorse them, either. On the Nitty Gritty master sheet, teams are arranged 1 to 344 in accordance to the RPI. Nine of the 16 columns on the Nitty Gritty are RPI-based or influenced. Why not organize the Nitty Gritty based on a collection of metric systems?

The NCAA has its reasons for this, and ultimately, one day, those reasons will give way to logic and a better collective understanding of how -- although we'll never perfect a rankings system -- we can use microscopes instead of magnifying glasses to examine teams' tendencies, weaknesses, strengths and true scope of accomplishment.

Below, I've got a chart of what such a Nitty Gritty could look like, what the NCAA could use as a base to sort its squads and begin the debate. This is something I'd love to take credit for, but the fact is I didn't have the time to get it done, and so you should be as grateful as I am for emailer Dr. Frederick Russ, who did the long division on this. Russ is an NCAA faculty athletics representative, a professor of marketing and former dean at the University of Cincinnati's Carl H. Lindner College of Business. He compiled what's quickly being acknowledged as the five most mainstream/reliable/respectable college basketball metrics and went with the median of the ratings (the chart says average, but it is the median; there is a difference). The chart below shows the positive or negative difference with the myopic RPI.

Plenty of teams don't vary in median rank of the five and the RPI. With others, it's chasm-like. And that means something significant when you get into the tedious but tremendous differentials in seeding, which can alter where teams go and of course who they play.

All teams listed were ranked 80th or better by KenPom.com, LRMC, BPI, RPI, Massey or Sagarin. These numbers, of course, are due to change in the coming weeks. All results are as of Wednesday, so even today there'd be minor shifts in the master list if you compiled one for yourself by dinnertime.

Russ also mentioned the obvious: the downside to every rankings system, with exception to the BPI, currently in somewhat of a test-drive phase, is you can't implement the impact of regular players missing games. Take Cincinnati’s first two losses (to Presbyterian and Marshall), which came when Jaquon Parker was still nursing a preseason injury.

But at least we can claim this is closer and more objective than the RPI's manipulable formula. Here is the master list, 1 through 90, of how the NCAA should be sorting teams. (Russ actually had 98 teams organized, but Google Docs was being less than agreeable in converting the chart beyond 90 teams. Apologies on that, but you get the point all the same.)

The biggest difference near the top is Wisconsin, perhaps overrated by all the other metrics, but not RPI? Let's debate! The distance on Missouri is disconcerting, though, too. Texas, Belmont, Arizona and Southern Miss all have big disparity as well. The largest gaps are UCLA (62 points lower in the RPI) and Colorado State (65 points higher in the RPI).

If anything else, this chart proves there are far too frequent communication breakdowns with teams across the board, enough so that the RPI goes beyond outlier status and continues to prove what many have known for years: If the RPI was introduced in 2012, it's hard to reason that it would be adopted as conventional by the NCAA or in mainstream discussion.


Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:10 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Our ballots for the top 16 teams of all time

John Wooden's 1973 UCLA team, above, and his '68 squad were in the top three of every ballot. (AP)

By Gary Parrish


In March, the CBS Sports Network will air one big show in four parts, on two nights, on the best 16 college basketball teams in history.

They asked me to submit a ballot.

They asked Jeff Borzello, Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander to do the same.

After a whole lot research and subsequent debate on Twitter, we finally filed our lists. Lots of you asked to see them. We decided to let you. So take a look and tell us what you think. And don't forget the the best team in this sport doesn't always win the national championship because that fact of life is reflected in our ballots. Teams in italics did not win national titles.

Kentucky in 1995-96 was absolutely ridiculous. (AP)
----- Gary Parrish's Ballot -----
  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1996 Kentucky
  3. 1973 UCLA
  4. 1982 North Carolina
  5. 1976 Indiana
  6. 2008 Kansas
  7. 2009 North Carolina
  8. 1991 UNLV
  9. 1999 Duke
  10. 1992 Duke
  11. 2005 North Carolina
  12. 2007 Florida
  13. 1956 San Francisco
  14. 1957 North Carolina
  15. 1974 North Carolina State
  16. 2000 Cincinnati

----- Jeff Goodman's Ballot -----

  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1973 UCLA
  3. 1976 Indiana
  4. 1956 San Francisco
  5. 1982 North Carolina
  6. 1996 Kentucky
  7. 1992 Duke
  8. 1990 UNLV
  9. 1974 North Carolina State
  10. 1984 Georgetown
  11. 1979 Michigan State
  12. 1960 Ohio State
  13. 1967 UCLA
  14. 2007 Florida
  15. 2005 North Carolina
  16. 2009 North Carolina
The longer we go without a team going buzzer to buzzer without a loss, the better 1975-76 Indiana looks for being the last team to accomplish the feat. (AP)
----- Jeff Borzello's Ballot -----
  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1973 UCLA
  3. 1976 Indiana
  4. 1956 San Francisco
  5. 1996 Kentucky
  6. 1972 UCLA
  7. 1991 UNLV
  8. 1982 North Carolina
  9. 1992 Duke
  10. 1974 North Carolina State
  11. 1990 UNLV
  12. 1967 UCLA
  13. 1954 Kentucky
  14. 1957 North Carolina
  15. 1984 Georgetown
  16. 1960 Ohio State

----- Matt Norlander's Ballot -----

  1. 1973 UCLA
  2. 1996 Kentucky
  3. 1968 UCLA
  4. 1976 Indiana
  5. 1982 North Carolina
  6. 1956 San Francisco
  7. 1992 Duke
  8. 2005 North Carolina
  9. 1974 N.C. State
  10. 1957 North Carolina
  11. 1991 UNLV
  12. 2001 Duke
  13. 2007 Florida
  14. 1984 Georgetown
  15. 1999 Duke
  16. 2008 Kansas

CBS Sports Network will be celebrating the 16 greatest college basketball teams of all time in the upcoming, four-part series, "16." Our CBS Sports panel of experts has voted, and on March 19 and 20, you'll be able to see which teams make up our list. You can help us celebrate your favorite team by sending us your tweets -- use the hashtag #CBS16 -- or leave your comments below. Then, look for your content as we'll work to incorporate the best submissions into the series.

You can also chime in on Facebook: Eye on College Basketball or CBSSports.com


Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:30 am
 

Podcast: Nate Silver, John Gasaway talk mock

This is the room where the magic, and brain cramps, got made. (NCAA)

By Matt Norlander


The podcast reaches its wonky zenith today. John Gasaway, the driving force behind Basketball Prospectus, and Nate Silver, renowned New York Times political blogger and NCAA tournament projector, join me. Both were at the mock selection meetings last week in Indianapolis.

The process was a lot of fun, a lot of work and a bit flawed. All aspects are covered in the podcast. If you're interested in learning how the bracket is built, there is no better source of knowledge for enlightenment than today's 40-minute conversation. It easily could have been two hours. If you like getting smart, follow John and Nate on Twitter, if you aren't already.

Enjoy -- the tournament starts in 22 days. 

Rundown:
  • From the beginning: Nate tells us why he was intrigued by the mock selection and what good he thinks it does do for his research. John shares his overview of the process as well.
  • 6:06: Why some of the process was unnecessarily tedious.
  • 8:16: Taking you into the room and sharing the details of who was in there, what we did when, etc.
  • 10:15: Expounding on my column, Nate and John explain why the RPI is still an undeniably big part of committee evaluation.
  • 19:25: Going over the bracketing and seeding. What fun! If only we had more time to do it.
  • 24:46: Regions and lack of balance all over the bracket. We get into why that's inevitable. This is a lot of Nate discussing his work related to travel and why the West Coast's lack of good teams also plays into this. Additionally, John makes the case for more rematches in the tournament.
  • 31:55: The teams or scenarios that surprised us the most after hours of evaluations.
  • 37:00: Pod wrap-up with good reviews of the NCAA and perspective on how tough this job is to do but also reinforcing how easy it would be to implement better data into the process and make the master seeding less flawed.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast -- whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.


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Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:58 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 5:20 pm
 

Bracketing: the best part of the mock process

Bracketing and seeding took up about 20 percent of the process. The other 80 was spent on selecting teams and eating food supplied to us by the NCAA. In other words: 60 percent of it was spent on eating, which we believe also accurately replicates the real experience. (NCAA)

On Saturday, I wrote about the RPI and why it’s still, unfortunately, fully baked into the process of selecting and seeding teams into the NCAA tournament. Today, I address the importance and time paid to the three principles of the bracket: selection, seeding and bracketing.

By Matt Norlander

If you’re as adoringly and heavily invested in the NCAA tournament buildup and fruition as I, you no doubt would’ve had the same sort of fun all of us media folk lucky enough to get an invite to the NCAA mock selection process had. I’ve my issues with some of what goes on, but it’s undeniably a college basketball lover’s dream come true to dive right in, full force, and playfully argue with two dozen people about Davidson, Duke and Denver. That it was our "job" formally go through the process with other passionate people was never lost on me. Getting to do this after years and years of scribbling brackets and bubble teams on paper and punching results into Word documents for our own pleasure in the privacy of our homes and offices was a unique privilege.

Greg Anthony taking up a case on behalf of Tennessee is 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back, but at least he was the first to show us why the committee is often quick to bring up teams that might not seem remotely worthy of discussion — and why that discussion is worthwhile and important to the process.

Now, here’s what I was most surprised about: the short amount of time we paid to seeding and bracketing. We didn’t begin the seeding process in earnest until 11 a.m. Friday morning — about 80 percent of the way into the process. The seeding and bracket is by far the most fun. It’s also the most critical. Chronologically, it goes: selecting, then seeding, then bracketing. The proper order, of course. But if time spent directly correlates to importance of each factor, then that's also clearly the hierarchy of importance for the committee.

There is a difference between the latter two phases. Seeding is the actual listing of teams 1 through 68. You do that, naturally, to have an order so each team gets preference of region and bracket over the ones listed below it. Bracketing is ticking off each team in order and placing them into regions in accordance with respect to geography and travel, as well as abiding by a few set-in-stone rules (i.e. BYU cannot play on a Sunday) and trying to respect other guidelines based on precedence (when possible avoid rematches in early rounds from games earlier this season or in the past few tournaments).

How we seeded: we’d vote four teams in at a time. A consensus of four teams would be tallied, and then we’d rank them, one to four. We do this piecemeal because you want to rank/seed teams with other teams of their ilk, as to avoid situations where the final 1-68 seed tally has glaring glitches throughout. It's Pavlovian in its repetition; you feel like you have to vote for a team 10 teams before it's formally in the bracket. That's intentional.

Once we had our overall ranking, we stepped back, looked at what we had and began to tweak. Some teams were too low, others too high. One team ranked 47 was behind another at 43 — or something like that — yet it was clear certain teams should leapfrog others. Voting was had for every proposed alteration to the seed list. Eight of the 10 members on the committee need to support a proposed change in order for it to happen. With our group, about half of the proposed changes went through successfully.

Greg Anthony was great -- except for that one time he lobbied for Tennessee. (NCAA)

Eventually, we went on to the bracketing, which was dictated by the executive vice president of all the NCAA championships, Greg Shaheen. He has the process memorized to an incredible degree; he could do this in his sleep, without question. We had to choose which teams go where, all the while keeping the regions as balanced as possible and avoiding all conflict of rules and guidelines. North Carolina staying in Kentucky's region, for travel purposes, instead of pairing UK and Duke was the most hotly debated bracket placement. Getting teams to certain cities, just listing them off and picking the closest locations was awesome. The program the NCAA uses has safeguards against breaking stipulations, and filling up the four yellow-and-white grids was a culmination.

This was, by far, the most enjoyable part of the weekend. It took less than 90 minutes.

Why so short? That’s my question. Because over the years, my objections to the bracket — which are seldom on the level of intensity and outrage as Jay Bilas or Dick Vitale — almost never, ever have to do with inclusion into the field. It’s normally seed-related. Almost every year we get squads seeded onto lines that seem completely off-base. (New Mexico as a three in 2010 serves as a recent miscalculation.)

I now can understand why this happens, though. The committee convenes on the Wednesday before Selection Sunday. It spends most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday poring over resumes and debating inclusion into the field. If possible, the committee does not go to bed Saturday night until the field of 68 has been completed. There are seed listings and subsequential seed scrubbings that take place from Thursday through Sunday, but you can check right here, the actual bracketing process does not begin until less than 90 minutes before the world gets to see it.

The seed list also slowly builds. First the no-brainer teams are put into the field, with the auto qualifiers from small conferences stapled to the bottom portion of the seed list. (Note: we spent no time on low-major AQs, and given the seeding inconsistencies with 14s, 15s and 16s, I wonder how much time is truly spent on these teams in five days. I'd guess it's less than 30 minutes, which is a minor but legitimate issue.)

If there was one thing we truly duplicated in our mock session, it was the bracketing procedure. It was a thrill, but it was also flawed because it was so rushed. This came on the heels of going through the seeding process at relative breakneck pace. You can scope our bracket here. That alignment was picked as if the season ended Wednesday night, so keep that in mind. Still: flaws abound. Regions are lacking in balance, but that’s primarily because schools, coaches, ADs would rather have less travel and more fans than be matched up in a tougher region. Seeding does not lead to uneven brackets -- bracketing does, and it's inevitable, particularly because we have so few good teams west of the Rockies.

The Selection Committee has more time than we did to seed-scrub and go back again and again to look and make sure the final 1-68 list is in an agreed-upon order. I can't help but think the committee goes through the same mental jungle gym we did, though. So much energy and research and effort goes into just picking the teams, that by the time the seeding comes — the final seeding, that is — there's a bit of a wear-and-tear effect. You've been scrutinizing over and over, and it's hard not to wear on the brain. Largely, seeding isn't an issue, but when we get inconsistencies, I think the lack of time given to that amounts to perceived mistakes in the process.

So when the field is released three weeks from today and you see a four seed that's really more like a six, or a team in the 8/9 game that feels like an 11, know there are reasons for that. Bracketing could play a part, but if it does, it's purely from a logistical, not a matchup or television, mindset. It could be they've been put there because of geography or conference conflicts that absolutely mandated it. If not though, then it's very possible an oversight came in the seeding process. Seeding and selection are two very different processes that should should carry equal weight. As of now, it seems getting 68 in takes priority over absolute accurate placement of those 68 once they're pushed through.
Posted on: February 18, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 1:52 pm
 

RPI still hovers over, cloaks selection process

The room where it all went down Thursday and Friday. We were secluded in secrecy, soft drinks and statistics. (NCAA)

By Matt Norlander

No matter how emphatically and repeatedly the NCAA Selection Committee insists the RPI isn’t a major factor in picking and seeding 68 teams into the greatest sporting event the universe has ever known, that’s simply not the case. The RPI, as flawed a tool as any mainstream collective ranking metric we have in college basketball, still stenches up the process like burnt popcorn.

(If you’re still not sure why the RPI is built like a Popsicle-stick castle, I’ll promptly point you in the direction of this and this and this. Get to learnin'.)

I had the luxury and pleasure of attending the NCAA mock selection meetings in Indianapolis Thursday and Friday, at the Conrad Hilton. My hope was to file a couple of quick blog updates/entries during the process. That’s nearly impossible. We started at 1 p.m. on Thursday, worked until about 11, then were at it again at 8 a.m. Friday morning and went until 2:30, and then it was off to the airport. It was a beautiful, dream-come-true of a grind. So here I am, frothing to share with you the events of the past 48 hours. On Sunday, I'll have a piece on seeding and bracketing, my loves and laments.

By the way, here's the field of 68 we concluded on, as if the season ended Wednesday night. I'll have more on this in tomorrow's piece. The irrational responses -- some of them tongue-in-cheek -- on Twitter made the entire process worthwhile. If only Jay Bilas had backlashed at us, then it truly would have been a Selection Sunday simulation.

Off camera, NCAA director of media relations David Worlock spellbinds us with his humor and deflection of the issues. (NCAA)

Now, let’s return to the RPI. Here’s my thing. I don’t have an issue with it being in the tool belt. It’s probably always going to be something that factors in, and I’m just going to have to live with that like I live with the cowlicks that command my hairstyle. The RPI generally organizes teams in a reasonable way when it comes to clustered arrangement of the best-to-worst tiers of teams. That said, why can’t the RPI get treated like every other rankings system: equally? Right now, it’s not. Right now, as it's been for the past 30 years, despite semi-annual adjustments to the bare-bones formula (that's what makes it bad and manipulable),  the Ratings Percentage Index remains the favorite flavor to savor for picking the "best" teams into the field.

The NCAA allows (but from what I interpreted, does not heartily endorse) any Selection Committee member to use Sagarin, KenPom, LRMC, Massey or any type of ratings system (including — WHAT — the Coaches’ Poll? It’s true, unfortunately). Those systems are not brought up on the big screen, unless by request, which never happened at our mock.

I'm guessing its seldom a Pomeroy team page will get clicked to the projector screen this year, too, especially since it's now subscription-based, and that $20 annual fee might be a touch too much.  

The RPI is the peanut butter that keeps the primary data smudged together for the Selection Committee. It still permeates the process. And the NCAA still wants to deny that. The NCAA likes to say bringing up a team’s specific RPI ranking doesn’t often come up when debating two teams’ inclusion or seeding. While that’s true, from the outset, the organization, presentation and general data on a team is dressed up in an RPI shirt with an RPI hat and a cute pair of RPI gloves.

On a few occasions, NCAA tournament Poobah Greg Shaheen (who, along with 2012 Selection Committee chair Jeff Hathaway, was awesome) would say, “OK, how many times did you find yourself talking about RPI in the past 10 minutes?” or something to that effect. No one responded with:

"Extensively!"

"Exclusively!"

"Dominantly!"

"A halfway decent amount!"

But that's not the point, because, as if you're being hypnotized into a train of reason and deduction, the RPI is placed right in front of the committee members’ faces from the start of the process, and I sincerely doubt they deviate from the materials and data given to them by the NCAA and its computer sorting/ranking/bracketing/filterin
g system (which is a slick, impressive computer program). This year, the NCAA has made public for the first time its Nitty Gritty (yes, that’s a capital N and G) sheets. These sheets rank teams by RPI. Immediately, you’re sorting teams in accordance with a flawed system.  Within the Nitty Gritty you’ll see nine of the 16 columned categories are RPI-dictated.

It doesn’t stop there. On team sheets and in side-by-side comparisons, the only metric numbers available are RPI. It's very easy to use the data baked into the NCAA's team sheets and use that in addition to eye test discussion to draw conclusions. In such a scenario, which is one that occurred over and over and over at the mock, you're being unfair and myopic to the process. And more than inclusion to the field, you're jeopardizing fair and realistic seeding -- something, again, I'll get to in Sunday's post.

Why not rank teams with a median of four, five or six respected, mainstream rankings systems, such as the ones listed above? The reason the NCAA doesn't is because some of the systems account for future results, and they don't want any predictive measures entering into the process. I say: the RPI is only one net, and so you've got many holes. The more nets you throw on top of it, the more reasonable general conclusion you can come to, and so fewer and fewer holes are possible in the rankings system. Keep the Nitty Gritty, but tweak:

  • An average ranking tally from RPI, Sagarain, LRMC, KenPom, Massey, and maybe even the brand-new BPI. This will be your master ranking.
  • A neutral-court record. It's glaringly absent from the Nitty Gritty, yet it's part what the NCAA tournament is all about: winning games on neutral courts. 
  • Get rid of conference record. Those are on team sheets and are not paramount to the grand overview the Nitty Gritty aspires to be.
  • Instead of "Record against RPI 1-25, 1-50" etc., give a record against the conglomerate. More inclusion from all systems eliminates the RPI's influence over the Nitty Gritty and general impression committee members glean when absorbing all this information.

I’ve been talking in geek speak for a few grafs here, so let me stop for a second and emphasize that I are pretty much everyone else relied heavily on instinct and eye tests, too. That’s a large part of the discussion. Recalling when a team won or lost and what those circumstances came down to. Debating a team’s merit based on its body of work, its best wins and worst losses: all of those things were a backdrop to the shirts vs. skins question.

Beyond all else, right now, who do you take on a neutral court in a shirts against skins game. Go with your hunch if data is too overwhelming and inconclusive.

Another scenario/question the NCAA said gets brought up frequently during the real selection process: Which team would you rather face in the tournament if it started tomorrow? Whatever team looks more appealing, the other one should be the pick. I liked this. Pragmatism helps, and it's good to glance away from the computer screens and go eye to eye with others when breaking down the bracket.

During the process, my partner, Rush the Court founder and EIC Randy McClure (that's him in the indie-rock glasses in the photo above) found ourselves constantly discussing a team’s merit, but also referencing Pom, Sag, LRMC and the NCAA-organized team sheets. We compared rankings and looked for outliers in the process. It was meticulous. We were frequently the last ones to submit our votes for teams as we whittled down the field (this became fodder for Shaheen to tease us), and the reason was we wanted to be thorough.

From that, here’s my conclusion: I don’t think NCAA Selection Committee members are using all available, valuable tools when picking and seeding teams. I think it’s too much information; there’s too much discussion, and the ease of the NCAA team sheets and the debates that come with it are too easy to cling to/subconsciously rely on. You have to open separate web browsers and constantly click band and forth between rankings systems. Why do that when you’ve got basic — and flawed — data in front of you that’s brought up simply by asking, “Can we get a side-by-side of Cincinnati and Middle Tennessee State?”

The process is tedious, because it needs to be, but it's still not completely all-inclusive. We'll know the NCAA truly respects other rankings systems and isn't subjective to the RPI before all else when it takes the initiative to include other credible, established rankings systems into its team sheets, computer program and debates. 

I happily admit, though, for me, whenever it's too close to call, I'll always go back to shirts vs. skins. Who you got?

Posted on: January 6, 2012 3:19 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:58 pm
 

NCAA still not showing enough transparency

(AP)
By Matt Norlander

We'll never stop second-guessing the NCAA tournament  Selection Committee the Monday morning following Selection Sunday. It's masochistic American tradition to harangue the 10 earnest, knowledgeable members in charge of selecting and seeding the world's greatest sporting event.

But the NCAA is somewhat determined to mute the cries and complaints. In what it thinks amounts to a big step forward in transparency, earlier this week the NCAA announced it would "lift the curtain" on the process of selecting 68 basketball teams each March.

It's a noble effort, but one that falls well short of what most are asking the outfit to do. I applaud the NCAA for wanting to let more people see how the sausage gets made, but the real decisions behind how and where teams are placed will remain cloaked. (Part of that is OK. Again, we'll never settle the debate, even if the Committee was completely honest and forthright afterward.)

The crux of the matter here is, the NCAA thinks you want to and should care about the RPI. Here we go again with the RPI, which is worse than snow in September. The RPI is part of nitty-gritty reports, which house some essential information, but also glean a lot of their data off the RPI, like strength of schedule and records against top-25 -50 and -100 teams. Again, all of that data is per the RPI system, which is worse than stubbing your toe in the dark.

If you'd like to see what a nitty-gritty report is, have at it. Here's more from the NCAA:

“The bottom line is that the more we can do to enhance and further inform that discussion and debate through transparency, the more you can have thorough discussion,” said Division I Men’s Basketball chair Jeff Hathaway. “When the field is announced, everybody will have had the opportunity throughout the regular season to go back and look at the information, just as if they were sitting on the committee.”

The RPI is just one of the tools both committees use to select, seed and bracket the Division I basketball championships.

It also might be the worst one. I will get the chance to confirm that when I travel to Indianapolis for the mock selection process in mid-February (an opportunity I'm thrilled to finally get to take advantage of). What's harrowing to me -- the NCAA revealed in its release that it uses the RPI to select and seed in everything from field hockey to women's lacrosse to water polo. Not water polo, no! The RPI should be pretty much eliminated from the deduction and selection process. Until that happens, the field of 68 will be, in part, influenced by a flawed measuring tool.

Elsewhere, Seth Davis suggested the committee go for something that would be a lot of fun to see, but cause so much more arguing than we need: a full 1-through-68 seeding list. We already get a general idea of the order; duh, it's there in the seeding. I don't think we need to know which team just failed to miss the cut of being a 6 or a 7 seed, even if that is a critical distinction in the bracket. I'd love to know it, but you're inviting that many more petty arguments to squeeze into a 48-hour window.

More from Hathaway: “Our work isn’t simply based on numerical information. If it was, anyone could just put it in a computer and look at the results. Committee members are watching hundreds of games on television and in person throughout the season. Any committee member past or present will tell you the value of the eyeball test is a key part of the evaluation process.”

The nebulous "feel" people have for teams probably amounts to the most fun, and frustration, in the process. We'd all love to be a fly on the wall when those debates are happening. Then we'd love to mutate from a fly into the Hulk and scream at these lucky SOBs who are ruining everything for the 30th year in a row, am I right, people? We could do it so much better.

Which leads to the other problem that doesn't get addressed by the NCAA. Everyone involved comes from the same asylum (I say it endearingly). The committee is comprised of eight athletic directors and two conference commissioners. Let's spice up the pot and get two more voices in there, two people who don't work for the NCAA or any member institution. A variance of backgrounds, so long as they're related to the sport and people who clearly have the credentials, would be a good thing.

The NCAA tournament is equal parts fun, critical, monetarily vital and essential to the college sports experience. So it's then wrong that there's still too much haze around how teams get selected and who goes where. For something this big, we should have more insight. The NCAA earns a dose of credit for letting us put our ear against the door with this initiative, but it's past time to let us get in the room, the real room, when the final slashes, additions and subtractions are being done and examine the process.

Until then we'll be here, complaining in the hallway.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 2:38 pm
 

NCAA making more and more money off tourney



By Matt Norlander


Not exactly a headline that get you stiff in your seat, is it?

The NCAA's finance books have always been publicly available. Most don't get into them because, basically researching and sifting through financial records of the NCAA isn't a lot of fun. It's dense, burdensome work that isn't really fruitful, unless you stumble upon a tax scandal that would blow the whole thing open. Not likely to happen. Not much reason, other than random curiosity, to actively hunt through hundreds of pages filled with numbers that just glaze past the uneconomical eye.

But in the wake of Deadspin posting -- at 2:25 a.m. -- what it initially thought was privileged information, the organization's records have been a topic of interest on the Internet today. Just how much money is the NCAA bringing in? We've got that info for you, plus the dollars attached to the men's and women's tournaments.

They're lofty numbers, and they continue to climb. For anyone who fights and advocates for college athletes to earn money at means above a scholarship, these figures only serve to rile and further invigorate your cause. In terms of the NCAA tournament, here are the dollar amounts attached to it (read: the profits the NCAA makes off its massive bovine) since 2005 and up through 2013. In 2005, the NCAA made $420 million. The next year, it went up to $453. In 2007: $490 million; 2008: $529 million; 2009: $571 million; 2010: $617 million; this past spring: $657 million.

Yes, the numbers will keep climbing. Next year will be a $710 million-dollar check, and 2013 is a $764 million boost to the organization. The NCAA record show most -- most -- of this money goes back to member institutions, as well as putting on all of the NCAA championships/tournaments in the sports that don't raise money. What I take from this: college football, which has fractured off its TV money from the NCAA (something basketball can and could do by 2025, in my opinion), isn't the beast in all areas we think it is.

Men's hoops is vital, so, so, vital to the NCAA continuing to exist and be the behemoth that it is. Without the tournament TV money, what is the NCAA? Not nearly as power or influential.

For a view of how much the men's D-I dominates, next spring, the NCAA will make 18.8 million from the women's field of 64.  And the NIT is now a measly $56 and a half million check that is spread out over 10 years, expiring in 2015.

Here's one of the copies of the financial records, if you so choose to peer.

2008 Ncaa Financials Copy

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 5, 2011 7:38 pm
 

UConn kids form next year's core



Posted by Eric Angevine

This has been one of the more unusual Final Four lineups in recent memory. Both Butler and UConn entered the final game on lengthy postseason win streaks that followed disappointing nine-loss regular seasons.

So, even though UConn won the final game handily, it’s certainly worth asking: where does this leave them in terms of next year’s team?

In pretty good shape, honestly. The kids who were once seen as almost an impediment to Kemba Walker’s  chances at a title grew into crucial pieces of the championship puzzle over a 40-plus game schedule. If Walker leaves, the rest of the starting lineup is likely to remain intact, and admit a couple of other members who are ready to make the leap to star status.

Alex Oriakhi, the sophomore man-child, should be a preseason all Big East selection in 2011-12, and he’ll likely bring back an even more NBA-ready body and a slightly more polished inside game. He’ll lose defense-oriented frontcourt mate Charles Okwandu to graduation, but should expect to see a leap forward from rising sophomores Roscoe Smith and Tyler Olander. Seldom-seen German seven-footer Enosch Wolf could end up as the obvious replacement for Okwandu’s minutes, but it’s tough to tell what he brings to the table right now. All three of the current freshmen should see some improvement after another summer in the weight room. They represent the big man prospects of a seven man sophomore class that will be the envy of the rest of the league next season.

If Olander and Smith look to be beefier inside options, there are also some intriguing options on the team who fit into a sort of swing-forward mold. 6-foot-7 subs Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Niels Giffey saw erratic minutes during the championship run, but should be able to turn that experience into productive role play next season. Each has the long arms and springy step that help contribute on defense and in fast-break situations. Giffey, a German import, is expected to show a great deal more shooting range in order to earn more minutes.

Yeah, yeah. What about the guards? Obviously, this is a rare situation in which a star backcourt presence can leave a program without feeling too guilty about what he’s left behind. Walker’s example set well with starter Jeremy Lamb – whose Gumby-like arms give him so many ways to both score and prevent scoring – and primary point guard backup Shabazz Napier, who is expected to show more scoring touch next season as a primary option in the backcourt. These two sophs-to-be could make up one of the top backcourts in the Big East, if not the nation.

Obviously, with all this talent already in the fold, recruiting takes a bit of a backseat this season. Nonetheless, Jim Calhoun brings in another potential backcourt star in top point guard prospect Ryan Boatright. Boatright is a top-20 lead guard with a reputation for scoring prowess, including the deep stroke. While Napier has grown into the heir apparent to Walker for next season, his reputation has a lot to do with his defensive prowess, so a scoring combo guard who can spell either backcourt starter will be a great addition to the roster.

In short, there’s no reason to knock this returning UConn roster for inexperience. It simply doesn’t make sense when you’re talking about a group loaded with crucial postseason experience. Sure, the key players will be mostly sophomores, but they’ll be the most battle-tested and confident group of second-year players we’ve seen in a long time, perhaps ever.

UConn’s chances to make another postseason run next year? Very good indeed. Some more experienced teams will get the preseason nods, but this group has shown a real ability to play together, with opportunistic grit and talent.

Photo: US Presswire

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com