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NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 15, 2015
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to this evening's teleconference with Scott Barnes, vice president and director of athletics at Utah State University and chair of the Division I's Men's Basketball Committee, for the 2014-15 season. We've just finished the selection seating and bracketing process, and in a couple of moments Scott will make an opening statement and then we'll get to as many calls as possible within this window.
SCOTT BARNES: Thank you, David. We're excited to be with you today as we sit here in the committee room. All of our committee members have dispersed to get ready for managing the tournament as we move forward into the First Four and preliminary rounds. Very excited about the work that they've done this week and the end product here and can't wait to get started. This is one of the finest sporting events in the world, and we're honored to be part of it and looking forward to tipping off. So with that, I would open it up to questions. Thank you.
Q. Scott, was just wondering, the thinking behind making Duke a No. 1 instead of Virginia, given that Virginia finished ahead of them in the ACC. Was it strictly the head-to-head matchup in Charlottesville?
SCOTT BARNES: When we make decisions like that, we really are looking at a number of things. The head-to-head, as you've pointed out, was an important aspect to that. But certainly the very elite quality wins other than that that Duke had played a part in that decision as well. You think about Wisconsin, as an example, and Virginia and North Carolina, a couple times Notre Dame. Louisville, Michigan State, games that they've played and the wins they've had there. Even further down, you think about top 50 wins, North Carolina State, Saint John. So the body of work was an important factor in this. The head-to-head certainly in the end was a factor.
Q. I'd like to know if you could talk to me about Temple. I understand they were the first team out. And just the rationale for them not being in?
SCOTT BARNES: A difficult obviously decision for the committee. And anytime we see a team that had the season that Temple had obviously is tough. And we feel bad for that. Wyoming's win in stealing a bid did take that bid away from Temple. If you think about some of the metrics we use, RPI was fairly solid, but some of the other metrics didn't quite hold up for Temple overall. When you look at their resumÃ©, two top 50 wins, losses against UNLV and Saint Joe's. But, again, the Wyoming victory made that a certainty.
Q. In Wyoming had not won, Temple definitely would have been in?
SCOTT BARNES: Yes.
Q. The other thing, was there any consideration taken to the fact that they had transfers that came on a little bit later and a lot of losses early on before that?
SCOTT BARNES: Yes. It was considered in terms of that transition with the players.
Q. Can you take us into the deliberations on Richmond, the team that obviously had a hot end of the season but more of a weaker resumÃ© earlier in the season?
SCOTT BARNES: Absolutely. Richmond was discussed at length. When you think of their overall body of work, the top 50 wins they had were 3-6 and 4-4 against the top 100. Two losses to teams in the 150 range was something that was also discussed. And one in the 220-plus range, a loss to George Mason, was taken into consideration.
Q. One more with VCU, been in the West Coast for three of the last four years I believe. Any thoughts considering or factoring that in?
SCOTT BARNES: It is something that we track. And at the end of the day you have this giant jigsaw puzzle that you're putting together. And we ended up, I'd just say that they happened to land in the spot where we haven't been left with a choice. Harvard, same thing, in recent years. So certainly it wasn't our intent, but choices were limited.
Q. I wanted to ask you, towards the end of the season how much consideration was there for Louisville without Chris Jones. How much did those six games without him weigh against the other games that they played with him?
SCOTT BARNES: We've had a lot of conversations this year. Maybe as much as I can remember in my five years on the committee about injuries or suspensions, players, particularly impact players that have not played. Louisville is a strong team without Chris Jones, and they'll still be a strong team as they move forward. No bad losses there. So we track that and looked at it and talked quite a bit about it. But again no bad losses and a strong team without Chris Jones, as they've proven.
Q. I'm just curious a little bit about the A-10 Conference that people seem to have a lot of respect for, the three teams -- only three teams got in. I say only, but three teams are in. I believe they're 7, 10 and 11 seeds. I wondered if you found that the conference might not have measured up to what people thought it did?
SCOTT BARNES: Actually, we don't take conference affiliations into consideration. We're never talking about how many teams from each conference are in. We didn't even know how many from each of the leagues were in until CBS showed us the graphic. That's how little we talk about number of teams from conferences.
Q. Wonder if you could talk a little bit about how you arrived with Kansas and Notre Dame as the 2 and the 3 in the Midwest with Kentucky?
SCOTT BARNES: Well, Larry, thank you for that question. A lot of deliberation on that and following the principles and procedures for bracketing, conference affiliations and geography play a role obviously in where folks end up.
Q. Was there anything that got Kansas to the 2 line above anybody else?
SCOTT BARNES: I think strength of schedule and non-conference strength of schedule. Overall, strength of schedule would be a determining factor.
Q. You mentioned Arizona and Virginia were among the teams you considered for 1. How did you weigh Arizona as a 1 versus a 2 and if their losses, which were against mostly lower rated teams or the fact that the Pac-12 is down and they didn't have enough quality there, were any of those a factor?
SCOTT BARNES: First of all, Arizona is a terrific team. A lot of conversations about how well they're playing lately. Three losses to teams worse than 100, to your point, were important considerations. So UCLA was the only team competing with them in recent weeks. I think the overall body of work in a very elite field as a reminder. I mean, these are the best teams in the country, kept them a little short.
Q. I know you don't have an S curve, so to speak, but was Arizona like the fifth or the sixth or seventh team overall? Did you rank it that way mentally at least?
SCOTT BARNES: They are sixth in that rank.
Q. I'm curious about CS, Colorado State, it appears at least in the NCAA RPI they would be the highest RPI not in, how much did Wyoming hurt them? You said it hurt Temple but how much did Wyoming beating San Diego State hurt them, and it appears if Wyoming doesn't win that game you're probably only looking at two Mountain West teams on that seed line there.
SCOTT BARNES: We were comparing Colorado State and Boise State there at the end against each other. When you think about Colorado State, their RPI was fairly strong but the other metrics that we use weren't nearly as high in terms of ranking. That and then lack of any true road wins against teams in the top 100 were also a factor.
Q. Talking about LSU, they seemed to get well into the tournament. I think they have the 35th overall seed. There was some talk about they had a lot of quality wins, I think 12 top 100 wins, but several losses against teams at the bottom of the SEC, but it seemed -- I remember going back to the mock exercise -- it seemed like the quality wins count for a little more than some of these losses. Talk about their resumÃ©.
SCOTT BARNES: Certainly. In this case two great road wins -- Arkansas and West Virginia, plus a sweep of Ole Miss. Those were factors in this. The eye test, as you think about LSU, really came up often among the committee members.
Q. I saw the committee announced over Twitter or at least NCAA announced before the American Athletic Conference championship game that was essentially going to determine the final 68, which I think there is no other way to take that but that Connecticut had to win. I think that was probably widely guessed but not known for certain. Can you talk about why it was determined to announce that early before the full bracket was released?
SCOTT BARNES: Well, I appreciate the question. We're just trying to be transparent in the process in terms of having that out there. UConn would have stolen Dayton's bid. And the only way they would have gotten in is in that regard.
Q. I guess I'm confused because it doesn't seem like the procedures are transparent, I don't mean it in a negative way, but to him nothing is known until the bracket comes out at 6:00 p.m.
SCOTT BARNES: Well, the principles and procedures are a public document. We actually host a mock media process. The committee's made concerted efforts to be more transparent in recent years as it relates to policies and procedures. That being different than the actual teams and talking about the teams. But policies and procedures are a public document.
Q. I know in the past the NCAA had said that there was no reason why Dayton could not play in Dayton for the First four. Was there any consideration just seeing if it was possible to avoid it or was it simply treated no different than any other team?
SCOTT BARNES: Once we selected the last four teams, they make up the First Four. And the First Four, by way of Dayton hosting, is exactly where it sits, and the committee actually a couple of years ago made a decision that since the first, really since the First Four's inception, we had decided that if Dayton were at large, we would move that way without prejudice. And so they landed Dayton. It is obviously something that folks will talk about. And I guess, the other thing I'd say is the policy states that it is the last four teams selected rather than the last four at-large teams on the seed list. That is something that we may review in the summertime. And as we always do, we're continuing to look at things that we want to reshape or visit on and we'll do that.
Q. To clarify, what would be the differences between, if you were to change that policy? How would that play out differently?
SCOTT BARNES: One of the things is we can't scrub the last four at-large teams. So that makes it hard in terms of really just because of the policies, determining those last four against the rest of the field. They're selected in order and must remain in that order. So that's a fairly rigid policy that may be revisited.
Q. A little bit more about Colorado State, you said they were compared side by side with Boise State. Why with Boise State and not with one of the other last teams in, if conference affiliation doesn't matter?
SCOTT BARNES: They were actually two of the last teams with lots of teams. Boise State was in that group along with Richmond. ODU is in there as well, some other teams. But I said that specifically because in this case Boise was sitting next to Colorado State in this group of teams. And again this was a tough decision for the committee, a lot like Temple, Colorado State had a really good RPI, but they weren't as high as in many of the other rankings. The other things that hurt them, I may have mentioned earlier, was lack of true road wins against teams in the top 100.
Q. Just wonder if you could, in your words, help describe what I try to tell people all the time that you guys just don't have enough wiggle room to cook up certain matchups that I think people automatically assume are set up that way. And I think you can probably express it more eloquently and succinctly than I can.
SCOTT BARNES: I think you did a really good job. Wiggle room is a great description. We had 12 brackets in play today in terms of contingency brackets. This was based on the outcomes of the Sun Belt games and Big Ten title game. American title game, American Athletic title game and the A-10 title game. So we had a number of contingency brackets. But there are policies and procedures that we follow. It's really a prescriptive process in terms of what you said, not a lot of wiggle room.
Q. Question regarding Ohio State. I was wondering, was Ohio State dropped from an 8-9 seed to a 10 because of a possible third round game against Wisconsin?
SCOTT BARNES: They stayed on their true seed line, actually, and weren't moved. Summer of '13 we changed our principles in regards to bracketing to allow for more flexibility. One of the things the coaches had suggested through the NABC was that they wanted to protect the seed line and we've done that. No, Ohio State did not move.
Q. Wondering with relation to Georgia. It was discussed a lot they didn't have any RPI top 25 wins or any RPI top 50 wins. How did you consider that?
SCOTT BARNES: That's a really good question. And there was a lot of deliberation about Georgia. There was discussion about early injuries and a team on the rise. You look at no top 50s, but they were 8-4 against the top 100. They certainly passed the eye test and made it to the SEC semifinals. They had again a strong strength of schedule overall. So those were some of the factors in looking at that. But you're absolutely right, there was pause, as it relates to not having the top 50. They were also second -- when you think about it, they were third in the SEC and strength of schedule, and SEC is a strong conference. So those were factors in Georgia's selection and I don't discount the eye test as it relates to that.
Q. You mentioned a couple times talking about these double teams, other metrics the committee uses. I couldn't help but notice that Colorado State and Temple, two of the last teams out, much higher in RPI than they are in Ken Pom. UCLA much higher in Ken Pom than they are in RPI. Is that something talked about more specifically by the committee members than ranking?
SCOTT BARNES: It is. One of the things we do we look at RPI really as an organizer in terms of top 50 and 100, but we spent a lot of time, more time than I remember, in comparing that in the swings to metrics such as the Sagarin, Ken Pom, BPI, those are used in the room as well and talked about quite extensively. We review those metrics each week, and that carried over to this week.
Q. Also in regards to UCLA, 4-10 record away from Pauley. I know that's one factor you guys look at. But how much or little weight do you guys put in if a team has a particularly notably bad road or neutral record?
SCOTT BARNES: I'm sorry, the last part of your question, I apologize, I didn't catch that.
Q. Just how much or how little weight or emphasis is placed on if a team, is noticed if a team has a particularly sub par record away from home?
SCOTT BARNES: Road wins are a factor and looked at. I think in UCLA's case, it was a tough call. I think Arizona has what I would call lopsided wins in recent weeks. But UCLA played them really tough in the last game. We had talked even about a month ago about UCLA and the committee was watching them. And felt like they obviously passed the eye test. And so those are things that we looked at in terms of UCLA. One of the tougher decisions that we've made.
Q. I was wondering, I'm sure each year there are a number of unique challenges that come with the year and the selection. What stands out in your mind as maybe two or three of the biggest challenges, as far as making the selections that the committee faced this year?
SCOTT BARNES: We were -- you always think about it, particularly when you're in a chair going in, what some of the speed bumps might be. And conversely, I'll get to your question, thought there might be a larger pool of under-consideration teams, it was about average. But one of the challenges, we felt like there were six teams that had a resumÃ© worthy of the first line. So moving through that piece was partly a challenge. Always the last spots. The timing of games today caused us to scramble. And we had literally 12 different contingencies ending that. We've had a question or two about why we don't move the conference tournaments so that it gives us more time. But we don't control the conference tournaments. We'd love to have that opportunity. Would love some more time. But bracketing as early as we did allowed us to review it more than we have in recent years. So we did get an early start on bracketing, but those are some of the challenges.
Q. Geography is obviously a significant consideration in placement. The Midwest bracket in particular this year seemed to work out to really be very geographically strong. For instance, four Indiana teams alone in that bracket. How did that all come together? Was more of it it was more flukey that you were able to get that many geographic appropriate teams in the Midwest this year?
SCOTT BARNES: Those first four lines are all about ballots, top four lines in each region had great balance. We do try to get as many teams as close to their natural region as possible in the process, but again it's quite a big jigsaw puzzle. That worked out well this year in that case. So not always possible with some of the restrictions that we have in our policies and procedures, but we certainly make an attempt to do that. This year was pretty good in that regard.
Q. I wanted to ask about Duke. I know you mentioned earlier their number of wins, especially road wins. They didn't win the ACC regular season or tournament. And usually a No. 1 seed has done one of those two things. How much of that was discussed in your decision-making process?
SCOTT BARNES: It was. It was discussed. Actually the first time since 2009 since a team didn't win either. So we were tracking it. And the committee deliberated on that quite a bit. In fact, if you think about it, you have to go back to 2003 with Texas before that. But again the other pieces to this, and what's interesting about this process and makes it work so wonderfully is you have ten committee members who have all done their homework who bring a little bit different perspective to the process. We deliberate on a lot of different metrics. And so that obviously plays a role in where we sit and those strong, very elite wins, wins on the road, and let's not forget the eye test with Duke, all were considerations. Again, Wisconsin and Virginia, and we've listed the wins.
Q. I'm curious about Illinois. They seem like they were a team that was out. I was wondering when they were out for you. Were they in consideration before that loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament?
SCOTT BARNES: They actually stayed on the board most of the week there in the under consideration board when we got here on Wednesday. The board was as I had mentioned before wasn't probably as large as it was last year, but they were in most of the week, even up to the initial balloting Wednesday, even after their loss to Michigan they remained on the under-consideration board.
Q. I was wondering, did the committee have any reaction whatsoever today to St. John's announcing the suspension of their starting center, Chris Obekpa, for two weeks three hours before the Selection Show?
SCOTT BARNES: We actually learned about that last night, and that was shared with us as is the process before it broke to the media. It did not impact their selection. But it impacted their seeding slightly is what I would say. So a lot of conversation about being that he was a starter. Obviously their big man inside. A shot blocker and good rebounder. It was definitely discussed.
Q. And when you say it impacted their seeding slightly, I assume that means 8 to 9. Did their opponent change at all?
SCOTT BARNES: What I mean by it dropped them a couple of lines on the seed list, not that true seed. Not -- opponents don't change on the 8 and 9 line. So not really in that regard.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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