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NATIONAL COLLEGE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 13, 2006
RICK NIXON: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Post-bracket News Conference.
I'm Rick Nixon, Associate Director for the Division I Women's Basketball Championship. Certainly an exciting night as we have announced our bracket for the 2006 Women's Basketball Championship. With me tonight is Joni Comstock, Chair of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee. She is Director of Athletics at American University and she will be available to answer your questions. We'll have the operator come back on to instruct you how to ask the questions. We ask that as you do your questions tonight, if you could represent yourself, let us know who you are and what your affiliation and we can go from there. And just to start things off, I'll ask Joni for some opening comments.
JONI COMSTOCK: Thank you, Rick. First of all, I would like to thank everyone for joining us tonight. It's wonderful to have this number of people so interested in women's basketball. In terms of the committee, we spent four very long days deliberating over many many teams, first to decide the 64 in the tournament and then place them in the brackets. I don't know that there's ever been a year that has been, that we have seen greater parity, more competition, and that the committee has been more will challenged in all parts of our role. But we are very excited at this point. We think that we have a great bracket, it's going to be a great tournament, with the special addition of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, so we're certainly looking forward to getting it started and ending it with a fabulous celebration in Boston.
RICK NIXON: At this time I'll turn it back over to our operator for some instructions on how to ask questions tonight.
Q. I listened to the Monday tele-con and it seemed like the strength of schedule and the RPI were going to be heavy factors in placing the No. 1 seed. And it did not appear to have that much of an influence on the seeds tonight. Can you address how much RPI and strength of schedule does affect seeding?
JONI COMSTOCK: Yes. First of all, I would like to talk just a little bit about how the committee views and uses the RPI. We do not use it as a tool to rank the teams. It's really a tool that we use to organize the information that's provided to us about the teams.
So while it is something that guides us in our deliberations in terms of gathering all of the information, it's not something that ranks the teams.
Certainly as you said, strength of schedule is something that we do look for. It is very important to the committee. And certainly the schedule that Tennessee played this year and place most years is very strong. However, in looking at everything, we felt that as close as it was, that Tennessee this year was a two seed.
Q. Follow-up question if I can, because Rutgers is also in the bracket with Tennessee and North Carolina. They went 16-0 in the Big East, including two defeats of UCONN and got seeded below UCONN. Can you explain how that seeding worked out?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well there are a number of factors. First of all you're right, Rutgers is another team that posed great challenges for us and they were in that group of teams that the committee looked at very hard. We had a very challenging year this year, really with the first three lines. But one of the things was that the committee looked at is that Rutgers had two really tough losses during the season. In addition to that, they of course did beat UCONN twice, but coming down the stretch Connecticut won the tournament and Connecticut had a very strong conference tournament. They have a very strong strength of schedule and so again it was very close, but in assessing everything, obviously you know what the committee felt.
Q. Two questions for you. First of all, maybe it's a surprise to some the Pac-10 getting six teams, the most ever it has gotten in this tournament. What did they do most to impress, particularly Cal, I think, being the last one to get in.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, first of all, a number of teams obviously the committee felt had a great year from the Pac-10. I think the Pac-10 probably as a conference was ranked a little bit higher with the RPI, but we don't really, as the committee goes through and evaluates the teams, we don't really count or even think about the number of teams that are getting into the tournament from each conference. But as it turned out, we decided and evaluated that six teams in the Pac-10 deserved to be a part of the tournament.
Q. The other thing I wanted to ask, it was kind of a mid major question. Some people might wonder about Western Kentucky that was ranked during the season and again was one of those that was kind of high in the RPI. Again they're a mid major, they lose their tournament final and they don't get in. What's the feeling about Western Kentucky and their season and what maybe kept them away, kept them out this time?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, you're correct, they, again, that's another team that posed great challenges to us. We looked at them, very, very carefully and Western Kentucky really didn't present the committee with the strength of schedule that we really were looking for. They played four teams in the Top-50 and again, it was very, very tough, they received a great deal of consideration but we felt that again looking at other teams, in the tournament, that other teams had a profile that was closer to ones that we had placed in the tournament and as it was, obviously Western Kentucky didn't get in.
Q. Could you elaborate a little bit more on the Western Kentucky situation, as far as obviously I know you just said that the RPI didn't play a factor but as a 17 RPI, obviously it's the highest RPI of any team that didn't make the tournament. Can you elaborate a little bit on strength of schedule and that that you just talked about.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, first of all, as I said, Western Kentucky had a very good season and they were watched carefully by the committee during the entire season. They didn't have the strength of schedule that many of the other teams had. And by obviously not getting the AQ, that put them in a pool of other schools and in comparing their record, who they played, with those other schools, who had in many cases the tougher schedule, better wins, and we felt that unfortunately western did not deserve to be in this year.
Q. Along those lines, you said that the Western Kentucky had not done enough in terms of strength of schedule, but considering that they had beat Louisville and Louisiana Tech and Arkansas, did that in the non-conference not constitute as enough?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, certainly that received consideration by the committee. We were very well aware of that and those were good wins. But again, looking at their entire body of work through the entire season, the parity now with women's basketball has really forced us to drill very deep and make very tough comparisons between teams.
Q. So then as far as them getting in, basically it came down to them not win anyone their conference championship, basically, is that what you're saying?
JONI COMSTOCK: Yes, by not getting the AQ, it put them in a pool of many many teams that the committee agonized over this year. We, I don't know that we have had a year that we had such a large pool of teams that we had to consider for those last few spots.
Q. I just had a question regarding the process that went behind making Ohio State a No. 1 seed and Maryland No. 2 seed.
JONI COMSTOCK: In looking at Ohio State and Maryland, again, it was very, very close and certainly Maryland was one of the teams that the committee looked at very carefully in terms of consideration for a No. 1 seed.
In our final judgment, I think two of the things probably that worked against Maryland were the four losses that they had and they really did not bring quite the strength of schedule in comparison to some of the other teams. Obviously in the non-conference. I mean those games that they could control.
Q. Calling about Villanova, as I did last year, my question for Villanova is, first, why not Villanova and also, why a team like Notre Dame, who Villanova beat at Notre Dame and also and know have an also finished with a better conference record.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, in looking -- first of all, I think one of the things that is important to remember in terms of the way the committee approaches this, is that we look at all of the teams as a group and so we obviously we really, it isn't a direct comparison between teams in the same conference. But in terms of Villanova, they were 1-9 against teams that were, had a RPI in the Top-50. And I'm not, you know, again, in looking at their schedule, we felt that they really didn't have enough good wins to really warrant a spot in the tournament.
Q. Wonder if you could address, was there a situation where you considered perhaps moving Connecticut out of the Bridgeport Regional or was that I think as many people perceive, sort of a lock. And in the future, what would you say to teams for instance if you're Duke in this instance, that pretty much, it looks like they're going, if the seeds bear out, they would pretty much have to play a, what essentially would be a road game or at least a game in front of a very hostile crowd, even as a top seed. Will that be addressed in years to come?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, first of all, in terms of looking at Connecticut's placement at Bridgeport, the committee has a very defined group of principles and procedures that we use to construct the brackets.
Once we select the 64 teams, those teams are seeded and they're placed in the bracket in seed order in their closest geographical site. And so that put Connecticut there.
And but it wasn't giving some sort of preference to them, it really was the way -- it was simply the way it fell as we went through our seeding and then bracketing process.
Q. And to follow-up, in future years, will there be some sort of I guess sort of protocol to make sure that situations -- even though that you're saying that you go for a neutral floor as much as possible, I think people at Duke would probably say that that's going to be a very difficult game to win under those circumstances. In future years will that be modified in any way?
JONI COMSTOCK: Actually, next year the committee has already decided that what will be happening is that we will go to neutral regionals. And so that obviously would preclude that possible from happening, although the way our principles and procedures are written, a team cannot play more than three games at that Regional site during the regular season. So we think that we have addressed that. But one of the reasons that the committee did this was we felt strongly that placing teams close in their geographical areas would help develop the game and increase and improve attendance and interest. And we feel that we have done that, but we also recognize that with the greater parity and the competition, that we need to move to the neutral Regional sites.
Q. We're asking about Indiana State, they were 26-5, Missouri valley conference regular season champions, how close were they, and by losing in the tournament championship game is that what kept them out of the tournament?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well first of all thank you for your call. Indiana State had a great year. They were another team that the committee kept a careful watch on through the entire season. As a matter of fact, during our four days of deliberations here, in Indianapolis, we stopped to watch that particular game. And it was a great game and unfortunately Indiana State did not come out with the AQ. I think the thing for Indiana State was that their strength of schedule hurt them and they were 1-2 against the three teams that they played in the Top-50. And so those things, again it goes back to strength of schedule to a great extent and it hurt them. It made it difficult for the committee to select them.
Q. One follow-up also, with Missouri State going to play at Purdue, it looks like the Missouri Valley Tournament which champion was already slotted to go to Purdue. Is that a correct read on how things went?
JONI COMSTOCK: Absolutely not. We again we follow principles and procedures and as we -- first of all, you know, in the process of putting the bracket together, the first thing we do obviously is select the teams. Then we seed them. And they go in the bracket in seed order in their closest geographical site. And so it just, it happened that way, but just as a caller asked a little while ago about Connecticut going to Bridgeport, it was not something that the committee just decided to do independently. We were following principles and procedures, and that was the result of it.
Q. Question about the University of South Florida and your decision to seed them ninth in the Bridgeport bracket.
JONI COMSTOCK: South Florida was a very interesting team for the committee to really review this year. They had some good wins that were important to us. 6-4 in the last 10 games was what they were, and so we felt again in comparing them to other teams in the tournament, that their profile matched in that bracket area of the other nine seeds. In looking at the teams obviously above them, some of those teams had stronger strength of schedule and some better wins in some cases than South Florida.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Washington, especially with the way that they had finished their season, I wanted to see what the thought was in making them a nine seed and how much the strength of the conference played into that.
JONI COMSTOCK: The Pac-10 this year well obviously many of the teams in the Pac-10 did, the Pac-10 did quite well. And I believe that -- obviously, well six teams are in from the Pac-10.
Could you repeat your question.
Q. Washington had lost their last three games. They were blown out by Stanford and Cal and so they got the ninth seed so I was just kind of wondering what the committee's thought process was with them?
JONI COMSTOCK: Why they weren't higher or lower?
Q. Just why they were where they are, actually.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, if you look overall, you know, again, what the committee really tries to do is look through the entire body of work through the entire season and evaluate where, what a team does and where they should fall in the bracket.
In looking at Washington, they had some good wins, over Utah, over Stanford, UCLA, Southern Cal, Florida State, those were all very good wins. And again, in looking at all of those things, they also had a one tough loss this season again, we felt in comparing them to the other teams in the tournament that they fell in that area.
Q. I had a question in terms of a local question with Kansas State. I'm trying to see how close Kansas State was to making it in and also looking at Iowa and Minnesota, I'm trying to figure out what either of those teams did, Minnesota lost five of its last seven and lost by 15 in the first round of its tournament. It's got a lower strength of schedule and lower RPI than K State. Iowa lost by 21 in its first round Big-10 game. I was just wondering if you could sort of talk about that?
JONI COMSTOCK: In terms of looking at Kansas State, first of all, they were another team that we looked at very long, very hard. It was an interesting year for the committee in that we had a substantial number of teams that really looked similar and competed for those last few spots in the tournament. In looking at Kansas State, you're right, they had some good wins, but at the same time we felt that one of the things, they were 4-6-down the stretch, they, their only win in the Top-50 was over Louisiana Tech and they just really didn't provide us enough good wins that we felt again that we could look at them as a tournament team.
Q. What did Minnesota, you mentioned K State wins, you know, what they did down the stretch, Minnesota lost five of its last seven and then basically were blown out in the first round. What did Minnesota do to get an eight seed; and my other question is, you say you don't really look at how many teams come from each conference, but if that's the case then how do you, I mean, I'm sure you must give conference RPI some weight and the Big 12, based on what I see in the number of No. 4 in RPI, the Pac-10 and the Mountain West and Big-10 are all beneath them and yet got more teams than the Big 12.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, the way the committee uses the RPI, is really away to organize the information at our disposal. It is not a tool that we use to rank the teams. While we look at it, again, it is, sometimes there were other teams in the tournament or in consideration for the tournament this year that really had a very high RPI and did not get into the tournament. And again, what the committee does is look at the entire season, their entire body of work, in the case for example of Minnesota, they had three wins in the Top-50, they were 5-5 coming down the stretch in their last 10 games. And so, yes, it was very, very difficult for the committee and those are very hard decisions to make, but the committee does not keep a tally of any kind in terms of conferences and we don't feel an obligation, regardless of the conference, to put a certain number of teams in. As a matter of fact, we got to the end of today and in concluding our meeting and it was only at that point that we stopped to even look at the number of teams from each conference.
Q. I was just curious whether the fact that DePaul, which is playing here in Chicago, the first two rounds or at least the first round, playing Liberty, whether the fact that they played each other last year in the tournament had any bearing on that winding up being a first round match up.
JONI COMSTOCK: The committee worked very, very hard to try to not have that happen again this year. But in looking at our principles and procedures, and we were not able to switch that so that we could have DePaul hosting and playing another team in the tournament. It was just, there were other considerations in terms of again the principles and procedures that we can't violate that did not allow us to do that. But it was certainly not our intent to set that up.
Q. Was there any thought to like spreading out the one or two seeds to each pad, because Chicago wound up with two fours and no ones, twos, or threes, or that's just the way it wound up?
JONI COMSTOCK: It was just geographical placement and following our principles and procedures.
Q. You addressed it previously, but it seemed that South Florida was a team that most people had on the bubble going in here and for them to get a nine seed, I thought it said a lot. What was the thing that you thought made them as convincing a team to be in this tournament as they were?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, you are right, they were a team that again we watched very carefully through the entire season. I think the committee felt going all the way through the season that we tried to make sure we watched them as much as we possible could to evaluate their play. They had some good wins. Over DePaul, over Notre Dame, the Villanova win was a solid win. And just in looking at everything, again, 6-4 down the stretch, you know, we obviously felt that they were a team that should be in the tournament and warranted that seed.
Q. Question regarding conference strength in regards to Notre Dame and the University of South Florida getting in. Did the conference strength play a role in that decision?
JONI COMSTOCK: First of all in terms of just using the RPI generally, it's just a tool that we use, and it is an important one, but it's a tool that we use to organize information that we view. It is not a tool that we use to rank either conferences or individual schools. And so that had really has no bearing at all. We evaluate each team on their merit and it is really not relevant what conference they're from.
Q. How would you characterize the committee's debate in terms of making Tennessee a No. 2 seed. Was there a consensus there or a vigorous debate about that inside the room?
JONI COMSTOCK: I would say this is my fifth year on the committee and it's been deciding really, I would say, at least the first three lines this year was a great challenge to the committee. In terms of Tennessee, there's no one that would take anything away from the outstanding season that Tennessee has had. Obviously they play in a tremendously challenging conference in the southeast conference and ultimately, yes, it took us a very, very long time to deliberate and to make those final decisions about who should be the, who should receive the No. 1 seed. It was a very, very tough decision. I will have to tell you that it is also I think gratifying for all of us who have been a part of women's basketball for a number of years actually to see this parity and these are great problems to have for women's basketball. This kind of competitiveness.
Q. Could you tell us who would have been the next in line for a No. 1 seed?
JONI COMSTOCK: No, that's really not -- that would really not be fair to the teams.
Q. Question with regards to conference. In this day of unbalanced schedules, how deeply do you evaluate where conference games are played. Because Villanova a team that when you look at where they lost their games and outside of the Rutgers, Connecticut and that conference, people just didn't win on the road. Do you delve that deeply into where games are played in conference?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, certainly, yeah, that is a factor that we consider, whether it's, whether the game is home, away, or at a neutral site, obviously in a tournament. Yeah, those are things that the committee is aware of. We do pay attention to that. And again, I think that you've watched women's basketball, I think it's becoming more of a factor because our crowds are growing, and in terms of whether the game is home or away. So, yes, it is something that we are aware of.
Q. I just wondered, could you confirm, was UNC the overall No. 1 seed?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, we really don't reveal that, but I --
Q. But you have in the past.
JONI COMSTOCK: Obviously, there's no question that they have had just a great season with winning the regular season and winning their conference tournament. I don't think anyone would dispute the kind of year that they have had.
Q. But in the past there's been no trouble, the committee has given us this No. 1 seed, in order. So is this a departure?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, I think it would be safe to say that Chapel Hill, UNC Chapel Hill is the No. 1 No. 1 this year.
Q. Could you give us the other three in order?
JONI COMSTOCK: Duke was No. 2, LSU was three and Ohio State was the fourth No. 1.
Q. You mentioned earlier the guidelines next year of trying to move to a more neutral format, would Connecticut be allowed -- if next year's rules were in place now, would Connecticut be allowed to play in Bridgeport or would they be prevented from playing there?
JONI COMSTOCK: Connecticut could play in Bridgeport if they didn't play more than three of their regular season games at that site. And have, and also I would call your attention to the fact that we don't count conference tournament games or those kind of things, it's regular season games. So the answer is, yes. I think it's their, what, 60, 65 miles from there. And so it's exactly the same parameters that the men now use.
Q. You talked earlier about USF and it sounded like they were a very solid at large team. And you also mentioned their wins over Villanova and Notre Dame as solid wins. Villanova finished tied with USF in the standings and ahead of Notre Dame and also beat Notre Dame, I was just wondering if you could discuss the comparison between those two teams, how Villanova would be out.
JONI COMSTOCK: As we evaluate the teams for the tournament, we really evaluate the teams as a pool of teams and it isn't really comparing teams within the conference. And you're right, Villanova had a very good win over Notre Dame. Having said that, again, those decisions were just splitting hairs this year because we had so many teams that were so competitive and it was looking at the overall season and making those evaluations that we felt that South Florida deserved to be in. But it isn't, you know, really looking at teams within a conference or even conference standings.
Q. And one follow-up question, you mentioned earlier Villanova's 1-9 record against the Top-50 in the RPI, but you also had Missouri in with only one win in the Top-50 and they were 5-5 in their last 10 and Villanova was 7-3 and Missouri had the lower RPI, so I was just wondering how they were in as an at large?
JONI COMSTOCK: Again, those are very, very close calls. Missouri did have a great win over Baylor. And I think that that was probably one of the things that the teams or that the committee evaluated and it was an important point for the team. I mean for the committee. So that certainly would have been one of the points.
Q. I wanted to know what you like about TCU.
JONI COMSTOCK: They had a good season, I think most all of the committee members had them on a radar screen. We saw them play. They had good wins over Utah and New Mexico, the Utah win obviously being in the Top-25 and so again, in reviewing them, 7-3 in their last 10 games, we felt that they warranted obviously a spot in the tournament.
Q. And also, just to make sure, you guys don't use an S curve then or you do?
JONI COMSTOCK: Yes, we do. We use -- we put the teams -- we seed the teams and so that places them in the S curve. And the S curve then is used to place the teams in the closest geographical site for the tournament to go into the bracket.
Q. But with North Carolina with the No. 1 that would make Tennessee the number fourth No. 2, is that correct?
JONI COMSTOCK: That's not correct. Tennessee was placed in their closest geographical site, which is what our principles -- we do that from the first line all the way through all of the lines in the tournament. And so the way that it came out this year was obviously on that same line, Connecticut going to Bridgeport and Tennessee, their closest geographical site was Cleveland.
Q. How close was Virginia and what factors kept them out?
JONI COMSTOCK: Virginia was another team that the committee deliberated over, as I had shared with one of the earlier members of the media, this was a very challenging year for the basketball committee, because we deliberated both greatly at the top of the bracket in terms of getting our top seeds in and then we felt that the parity in women's basketball has grown tremendously. And so we had a very large number of teams that we looked at and certainly Virginia was in that pool of teams for us to consider. Again, it was splitting hairs, because their Coach put together a good team this year. However, we felt that in looking at their entire season, their entire body of work, 5-5 in their last 10 games that it was just difficult for us and again it was splitting hairs but they received a great deal of consideration.
Q. Can you talk about why not Pittsburgh and you talked about South Florida, but Pittsburgh had beaten South Florida twice.
JONI COMSTOCK: Pittsburgh, the committee, that was another team that the committee looked at long and hard. We saw the progress that the Pittsburgh team had made really in the last couple of years, and they played well through the year, again, the committee made sure that we watched a significant number of their games. I think one of the things with Pittsburgh is that it would have helped the committee a great deal in selecting them if we saw a greater strength of schedule and who they played outside of the conference. And I know that that's always a tough thing, but that was one, that was definitely one of the deciding factors for us.
Q. You've been talking about a lot about using the S curve with relation to geography. Doesn't placing that much on geography create a situation where the or could create a situation where the if he very first principal of the bracketing is sort of violated in balancing the bracket? I know you wanted to get Tennessee as close to home as possible, but it appears that that just weighted the Cleveland region a little heavier with higher rated teams on the S curve than some of the others.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, I think that definitely in looking at the bracket that Cleveland is full of great teams. I think in listening to the coaches being interviewed tonight I think that Coaches in the other regions feel like they have their hands full as well. We sometimes, you know, these things are going to happen and it's a little bit different every year in terms of exactly how teams fall into the bracket. We are very consistent in using the principles and procedures that we have set up and this particular principal of geography is used not only by the women's committee, but by the men's. And this year obviously in following that and putting teams in the bracket, in their geographical proximity, you know, using that seed order, this is the result of that and it's a little bit of an anomaly, but this is, these are the principles that we have and we feel like clearly if we're going to use it for the first line, we have to use it for the second and beyond.
Q. If I could follow-up with another question. North Carolina, you said overall No. 1 seed. Potentially playing on the road in their second game. How much anguish went into having it be North Carolina who was the No. 1 overall seed rather than maybe say Duke being placed with van better built in the same pod or well I guess it -- or Ohio State. That would have created some moving around in the bracket that you have, but I was looking at maybe the switching North Carolina and Duke in terms of being placed at Vanderbilt. How much trouble did you have with the decision of having the No. 1 overall seed maybe playing on the road?
JONI COMSTOCK: I think I'm answering your question, but I'm not certain. UNC ended up first of all at Cleveland because they were the No. 1, No. 1. And so they went there because that was the closest geographical site for them.
Q. What I'm getting to is more the sub Regional where they're playing in Nashville and potentially playing on Vanderbilt's home floor against Vanderbilt in the second round. It seems like that's a little bit of a penalty for a team who was the No. 1 overall seed. It seems that maybe someone lower on the S curve would be dealt that hand, rather than the absolute No. 1.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, as we built the bracket, the last thing that we do is we drop in the first and second round sites. And Vanderbilt is obviously hosting. They fell into the Cleveland Regional and by virtue of the fact that Vanderbilt is hosting at Nashville that forced UNC to Nashville.
Q. How close was Texas Tech to getting in and what were some of the factors in their consideration?
JONI COMSTOCK: Texas Tech was certainly a team that the committee took a very hard look at this year. I think one of the things or a couple of things maybe that hurt Texas Tech was a 5-5 record down the stretch, going out early in their tournament, and they did have three wins in the Top-50, but I think that was one of the things that the committee was looking maybe for a few more good wins and we also felt that Texas Tech had a number of losses, tough losses that hurt them.
Q. Wondering if you could discuss kind of what you thought about Oklahoma, where they might have fallen on that two line and then what whether it was closer to one or three and kind of what the factors were there.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, Oklahoma, again, is a team that's had just a great year and I think with Courtney Parris, I think everybody's very excited about the team and also the committee spent a great deal of time watching them throughout the year because we knew that they were developing into a very, very, very strong team. Oklahoma, again, certainly received consideration for that top line and as we looked at them I think the four losses hurt them. They had a couple of, the four total losses. They had a couple of tough losses and possible again just looking at their overall body of work and who they played this year, that maybe their strength of schedule wasn't quite there.
Q. When you say that you guys have seeded people by their geographic region, if you weren't doing that, then it would be pretty simple to say that they were the sixth overall pick. Would you say whether they were or not?
JONI COMSTOCK: They're a two seed. That's really all I can share with you.
Q. You had mentioned earlier about Western Kentucky and the strength of schedule. My question is, when you compare it to a team such as Cal, where Western had a strength of schedule lower and Western played in a 200 non-conference to Cal's four plus 200 non-conference, what was the deciding factor between a comparison of teams like that where a Cal would get in and a Western Kentucky didn't?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, first of all, Western Kentucky had, they had a good year and the committee took great lengths to make sure that we saw their games and really watched them throughout the year. I think the committee felt that they had a couple of or at least one tough loss that hurt them to UAB. And with a team like Western Kentucky, when you don't get the AQ, it becomes very difficult for the committee because they are placed then of a pool of other schools that sometimes have tougher schedules, better wins, and again, it was, they received strong consideration and they were looked at very carefully. But this was a challenging year for the committee, because the parity is growing every year.
Q. A follow-up, you mentioned the tough loss, their loss to UAB, the loss, Cal had a loss at Oregon by 37 and I think Oregon was a plus 200 RPI, or I mean what, why was the consideration of UAB weighted for more western than say Cal against Oregon?
JONI COMSTOCK: I think again, just looking over the entire season Cal is a team that was close, however, I think that one of the things that the committee definitely felt was different between Western Kentucky and Cal is the number of games that Cal played and teams that are ranked in the Top-50 in the RPI. They had four, five wins, actually, in teams that are ranked with RPI of 50 or higher. And I think that that had a great deal of bearing on it.
Q. I just first a quick comment. I just want to say that I think that you've done a tremendous job in putting this together. I think that there's a lot to be proud of in this bracket. The one question that I had was, looking at the two at large berths that are 11 seeds, the TCU and New Mexico both from the Mountain West. Is it safe to say then that those were, if not the last two among the last two teams to qualify for the tournament?
JONI COMSTOCK: There were a great number of teams that we looked at this year in consideration for the last, those last spots. But I think it's really not fair to either the teams that didn't get in or those that the committee did select last, I really don't think that it's fair to them to list who those teams are.
Q. This may have been asked, but I want to make sure I'm absolutely clear here. Where the integrity of the S curve is concerned, and geographic proximity, do your principles dictates that the S curve is more important or geographic location or placement is more important, I think I'm not clear and I want to be to make sure I am clear.
JONI COMSTOCK: Sure. We use both of them and the S curve is put in place, it's not so much one has higher priority, it's the order in which we use them. So that obviously the teams are selected first, then we put them in seed order, and which results in the S curve that we all talk about. We then use the S curve or that seed order to place teams in the bracket in their closest geographical site. And there are or principles as well that govern it, but that's the primary reason.
Q. So that is what allows Carolina and Tennessee to be in that bracket together. Because I guess my assumption is Tennessee would be that first No. 2.
JONI COMSTOCK: It is that principle that places them there.
Q. I just was curious what separated Iowa and Indiana, because they seemed so close to me. And Indiana had some big wins at the very end?
JONI COMSTOCK: Yes, they did. We really -- one of the things in terms of the committee is that we don't -- we compare a large pool of teams and we're looking for similar profiles in terms of selecting the teams for the tournament. And I think in a lot of ways that you are correct, there are a lot of things about Iowa and Indiana that are similar. One of the things between again it's splitting hairs when you're comparing the two teams, but Iowa did have an additional win and in the Top-25. But it was very, very close. And Indiana played well down the stretch, the committee was very aware of that. And did watch them very carefully. And we had very tough decisions to make.
Q. I heard you address Pittsburgh's strength of schedule earlier, but can you explain how you chose Pitt over South Florida when Pitt finished six in the third toughest conference and they held their seed in the Big East tournament, and also when South Florida lost to the 10th seed in the first round of the tournament, and then in addition to that, Pittsburgh beat South Florida head to head twice.
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, first of all, Pitt, as I just shared with the other reporter, the committee looked at Pitt, watched many many of their games and saw that team develop through the season and the committee has a lot of respect for what that team has done through the year.
Having said that, we don't look at conference standings to make our evaluation and I think one of the things that hurt Pitt was their non-conference opponents and who they scheduled and they really didn't help themselves quite enough of who they scheduled out of conference.
Q. To follow that up, do you guys take a look at head to head competition?
JONI COMSTOCK: Absolutely.
JONI COMSTOCK: And that may -- and we fully recognize that and it made it, it made it very difficult for the committee. But it was -- that's one factor, but we consider a lot of them.
Q. A little bit similar question to what you just answered, and basically my question is just simply, what did you like about Iowa, what got them in and how close were they to the cutoff?
JONI COMSTOCK: Well, again, the committee I think recognized through the year the teams that we would maybe have to focus on and make sure that we saw those teams through the year, so that we cannot only evaluate on paper in terms of their won/loss record but also what did the committee see in terms of their play. And Iowa was 5-5-down the stretch. They had two good wins during the conference season and I think it was very compelling to see them beat Michigan State and beat Purdue, who are obviously two other teams in the tournament. Those were significant and important wins to us.
Q. And how close were they, were they one of the last teams in?
JONI COMSTOCK: We don't -- you know, that's just not something that we are comfortable saying, just out of respect for really all the teams in the tournament.
RICK NIXON: Thanks so much for everybody for participating tonight. Just wanted to remind everybody that transcripts of tonight's tele-conference will be on line at NCAAsports.com. Also, if you would like, just send me an e-mail at Rnixon@NCAA.org and I'll be glad to send you a transcript of our proceedings tonight. And if you have any questions throughout the tournament, please let me know. Appreciate everybody for their coverage and just let me know if you see anything we can do for you here at the NCAA. Thank you and good night.
End of FastScripts...