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February 22, 2006

Craig Littlepage

DAVID WORLOCK: Good afternoon, everyone. I want to thank everyone for participating on the call today and welcome you to the first of two teleconferences that we will conduct prior to Selection Sunday with Craig Littlepage, director of athletics at the University of Virginia and chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee. On behalf of the Division I men's basketball staff, we thank Mr. Littlepage for joining us.
We know the committee got together two weeks ago to begin preparations for selection. Now the committee is only two weeks away from gathering in Indianapolis to begin the selection seeding and bracketing process. We'll get underway by asking for your take on the season so far, how you think the flow of the season has progressed and how you see the next couple weeks playing out in terms of the committee's work in reviewing teams for the championship.
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Thank you, David. Welcome, everybody. It has been a fun regular season to date. There's been some unbelievable stories, great drama, some great individual performances, obviously great team performances. I personally enjoyed watching so many of these games from around the country from the start of the season until now.
The committee and those that follow college basketball I think have to be continually reminded that there's still several games and in some cases several weeks yet to go in the regular season, plus the conference tournament. So the evaluation process is not anywhere near to being completed. I think there's a message to relay today: It is still too early to say what will happen. Every conference still has important games yet to be played, and even in situations where we think that a game does not have much significance at face value, it certainly does mean an awful lot to those teams that are either vying for positions for seeding in their tournaments, strengthening their resumes for at-large consideration, et cetera.
I think, needless to say, particularly based on the meeting the committee had several weeks ago in Indianapolis, what we call our selection orientation meeting, we know that we're going to face some unusual challenges this year, and probably specifically due to some of the conference realignments.
It appears as though there's gridlock either at the top of many conferences, and certainly more so in the middle of some conferences, and as a result there's still little differentiation between those teams that are gridlocked in those relative positions, as I said, near the top or the middle of the conferences.
The imbalance in scheduling, the imbalance conference scheduling, means that teams in the same conference that might have the same record aren't necessarily playing the same schedule, that is the composition of conference schedules for two teams in the same conference might not be, comparatively speaking, the same.
We have situations where in some conferences there are non-plays among conference members. There's always the question of how many teams from different leagues are going to get in. I can assure you, as in the past, the committee never considers that, but certainly it's something that the public is fixed on.
Then finally, it's the question and the perception that a .500 record in the league is a threshold that some believe is the key for teams to get strong at-large consideration. Again, this is a challenge because, again, with unbalanced scheduling, with teams that are either playing in the same conference only one time or possibly not playing at all, it does create some particularly difficult challenges.
But we understand what our goal is as a committee, and that is to select the 34 best at-large teams, alternately to then seed the entire 65-team field, then finally to put together and deliver a geographically and a competitively balanced national tournament spread out over the four regions. That's what we have been thinking about over the course of the entire regular season, but in particular the last few weeks as we gear up to bring the regular season to conclusion. We know that we're going to have a number of very, very good basketball teams to consider for inclusion in this year's tournament.
So with that statement, I'll open it up to questions.
DAVID WORLOCK: Thank you, Craig.
Q. I cover Kentucky's team. They seem to be on the bubble, at least certainly by Kentucky standards right now. It's a possibility they could finish 8-8 in their league and not beat a team in the league that has a .500 or better than .500 record in the league. I'm wondering how closely something like that would be watched and how that might impact things.
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, I think that sort of situation is probably going to play out in a number of leagues. I think what the committee will have to do is even further scrutinize the team's total schedule in terms of who the teams have played in the non-conference portion of their schedule, that is who these different teams have chosen to play, where they've played the games, how they've done in those games. So where the conference record, where the conference schedule has not helped us differentiate these sorts of teams, and there's probably half a dozen or more teams like this, maybe the non-conference schedule, who they've chosen to play, how they've done against those teams, will allow us to make the call on teams with that sort of profile.
Q. Just with regard to your issue about the imbalanced schedules, it's always been my understanding that the teams are evaluated individually. Why would an imbalanced schedule matter so much? Wouldn't it be just the same as comparing a team from one conference to another?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, every team is going to be evaluated on the basis of what it has done, and that's without regard -- when you really get down to it, it will be without regard to what conference they're in. We do quite a bit in terms of research. We do quite a bit in terms of review and evaluation.
But I think teams are bunched into conferences. Teams are affiliated by conferences, so we have to face the reality that teams will have conference records. But it's our job as a committee to dig beneath the surface of what those conference records mean because an 8-8 record among two teams in the same conference might not be indicative of the true quality of those respective teams.
I think that the question is accurate. It's our job then to dig beneath the surface, even among the teams with common records in the same conferences. It's our job to clearly evaluate what they've done in that schedule that they've played both in-conference as well as out-of-conference.
Q. Could you tell me a little bit about how you'll handle injury situations or guys who missed, say, a semester for academic purposes. How do you count games when a guy hasn't been there in terms of evaluating a team's body of work with regard to also whether that guy is playing or not in the tournament?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, there's not a set answer in terms of what impact it might have. But it is a factor that will be considered at the point in time that a particular school would be under evaluation and discussed by the committee.
I think it's really two different situations. On the one hand, when you have an academic situation, a conduct situation that leads to suspension, usually that player is going to be returning to the team and returning to the team in good health.
On the other hand, when a player is injured, particularly when that injury occurs late in the year, right at the end of the regular season or possibly in the conference tournament, there is always the looming question of when that player will be returning and to what degree of health that player might return to the lineup.
In both cases, it's a difficult scenario. The injuries are a little bit more difficult to factor into our discussions than when a player does return because of some of these circumstances that were mentioned. It's factored in, but there's not any sort of set parameters to what degree that might mitigate a team's resume and their evaluation as far as at-large.
Q. The RPI, there's a lot of talk out here because Arizona is not that good, but the RPI is strong. How much is it considered and has that changed over the years, more or less looked at what you're evaluating teams?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: I would say you would have to recognize that the committee is comprised of 10 people, each of whom has a different personality. As a result, they have certain things that are preferences versus another.
For me, a person that played college basketball, was an assistant coach and a head coach, that might look at the game in a certain way, I might rely more on qualitative and subjective sorts of evaluation tools, what I see, what I hear in talking to coaches and others that watch games. Whereas another person on the committee might prefer the quantitative measurements, statistical evaluations, rankings and RPIs, et cetera.
I think the beauty of the work of the committee is that our votes and our considerations of teams is always a composite of all this range of preferences from among the committee. So whereas one person might put a little bit more weight and give credibility to the RPI, someone else might rely more on some of these other objective or subjective analyses in terms of what they see, what they hear, what they feel as they look at teams.
Q. For protected seeds, is that protection only provided for the first round? There's an assumption in Philadelphia that the committee won't have any qualms about putting a school such as Villanova right in Philadelphia for the first round. Is that a correct assumption or not?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: The policies and procedures in terms of site assignments are pretty well-established in terms of whether a team is able to participate in a certain site or not. The definition, three games or less at a particular site, and in the case of Villanova, in the case of any school that does not play more than three games at a site, they certainly would have the opportunity to be considered for placement in one of these sites.
Q. How much weight, if any, do you put on an injury that occurred to a player at the start of a season, say a starting point guard that's so crucial, and results in early losses that teams might not normally have?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, obviously when we start to look at the range of different things that the committee will consider in terms of information, in terms of tools to evaluate, we look at and we put a great deal of weight in the team's last 10 games of the season, the second half of the season. The reason for that is that the team that plays in the last 10 games, the team that plays in the last month of the season, the team that plays in its conference, is the team that's going to be entering the tournament should that team be selected, and will be under consideration as we are looking at which teams will be selected for the tournament.
So the fact that somebody gets hurt early and might result in losses to that team is something that will be considered. It doesn't have to be something that's mortal in terms of its impact. But particularly if that team has done in its non-conference schedule what the committee has encouraged teams to do, which is to play a good balanced and challenging non-conference schedule.
The reality is, when you play that kind of schedule, you're going to win some games and you're going to lose some games. The committee understands that. But we'd like to see the teams around the country do what they can to challenge themselves both at home and on the road in their non-conference schedule against good-quality opponents.
Q. Any inclination away from a team that might be in the lower half of its league or with a slightly under .500 record in its league?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: The record itself, the net record in the league, is not going to be a consideration. Again, it's all about who you've played. A team that has quality wins in their conference, that has quality wins in their non-conference, will get strong consideration. So a 7-9 record I think is what you proposed, that at face value might not look very good. But if those losses were to teams in the top 25 and the wins were against some teams in the top 50, that might be worth strong consideration.
Q. When you guys do your first ballot, any idea as in terms of how low your locks could be? Usually it's 20 something. Do you see this as maybe a record low as far as locks in that first ballot because of how large the bubble is?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, I think the answer is that there could be a lower number. When we did our brief go-around here at our orientation a couple weeks ago, I think we did have a lower number than usual. You know, it was a very preliminary view at that point in time, though, given the fact we were looking at this in early February. We were trying to cast votes at that point in time based on what we had seen. Certainly in the two and a half weeks since then, a lot of things have changed. In the last two weeks of the regular season or the last week of the regular season for some conferences, there's still a lot yet to be determined.
It is still yet to be seen just how many locks, if you will, there are. But probably right now there's a smaller number than we've had before. I think that's a reflection of the kind of gridlock we talked about before with teams bunched either at the high end or in the middle of the their respective conferences.
Q. Arkansas has had six conference losses by a total of 16 points. I know ultimately teams have to win games to get in. Is there differentiation in types of losses and how closely do you look at those?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: We have something that the committee calls good losses, bad losses, good wins, et cetera. And certainly that's a subjective part of the evaluation, that there's not a real, real specific answer to.
If those losses that a team like that has are to quality teams, in some cases if those losses are on the road, it doesn't necessarily hurt a team dramatically to have lost a game to a quality opponent, a close game that's on the road in particular but maybe even at home.
Q. The Big East is obviously one of the leagues with the gridlock that you talked about. Does the overall strength of the league mitigate some of those problems at all for some of those teams bunched in the middle?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Again, the overall strength of the league is a subjective part of evaluation. When we go into the room, we're not concerned about league affiliations. Which league a team is in is not going to necessarily get a team in. It's what the team does in terms of the entire regular season and their post-season conference tournaments that are going to be the determining factors, how they did in the games that they played.
There's really not any sort of imputative value, if you will, on the bases of they're in one conference versus the other, that that's going to help their case to any degree.
Q. If you talk to some mid-major coaches, they feel like in order to get a little more respect from the committee, they need to do a little better in the tournament, which is understandable. One of the ways to do that is to get a little better seed, you're seeded a little higher, maybe you don't have to play a team from a power conference on a pseudo home court. I know someone asked about Villanova in Philadelphia. Even though that's not technically a home court, I think all would agree they have an advantage. Have we reached a point with the Missouri Valley, these mid-majors, are going to this year get a the more respect or get seeded a little higher than in past years?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: That's hard to say. I personally would tell you from my point of view, all the conferences have gotten a great deal of respect, that is that every conference is assigned a member of the committee that's responsible season-long for knowing the teams, knowing the coaches, knowing the ebb and flow of the given games that are being played by those teams. Those discussions, that information that's gathered, goes into our deliberations and is factored into how the teams ultimately are seeded and then bracketed.
The perception that they don't get that respect, I don't necessarily feel that that's an accurate one. On the other hand, I feel as though based on the hard work of the committee, reaching out to commissioners, reaching out to coaches, going to games of some of the conferences to which you refer, really does put a personal touch from the standpoint of the visibility of the committee with coaches around the country, with teams around the country, and with the commissioners as well.
Q. All things being equal, what advantage, if any, does a team with a long tournament history have over a team with little or no tournament history?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: It would have no impact. Past results are no indication of future expectations. It's on the basis of what the team has done this year.
Q. What would a team that has a pretty good RPI, pretty good strength of schedule, but only one win against a team in the RPI of 26 to 50 range, no victories against teams in the protected top 25 of the RPI, need to do with a couple weeks left if they're about .500 in conference right now?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, it's very difficult to do very much between now and the end of the schedule, but I think it would also be a factor of who else is in the mix, at what stage this profiled team might be considered.
I think that's a difficult one to answer because there's just too many variables there. But we're looking at what the teams have done season long, what they've done as they've come down the homestretch of the regular season and possibly in their post-season tournaments, who they've played, where they've played, who they've chosen to play, that is their non-conference schedule, how they did in those games. If they've taken care of business, that is if they've put together a good solid, competitive non-conference schedule, they've done a good job in their conference, they will be worthy of consideration if they've presented a pretty good resume.
Q. You mentioned earlier about bad losses as part of your consideration. How much weight would those be given, say Wisconsin's earlier loss or West Virginia's loss, as compared to a good win?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: I think it's a matter of being able to mitigate a "bad loss" by having a history of good wins, competitive games against quality opponents. But, again, there's no specific answer to that as to how much it might hurt or how much a great win might offset that to some degree. But certainly over the course of the year there are going to be upsets. This has been a year where there have been some supposed mid-majors that have taken on schools from bigger conferences and have won those games. But those are not fatal losses in most cases, particularly when schools have balanced that by playing good schedules, non-conference, and winning some of those games.
Q. In light of the gridlock you're talking about, especially in the middle of conferences, do you see more of a challenge this year in the seeding, especially on the eight or nine line?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: I would agree that the seeding will be a difficult challenge. As I almost daily kind of go through a seeding sort of process here on my own, based on the results, teams are moving up and down, teams are moving horizontally based on the fact that there are very few teams that are running the table, if you will, or having sustained success with a few bumps along the way.
I would say it's not only going to be in that eight, nine category, but it's probably also going to be in the two, three, four lines.
Q. When you go for the first weekend at any one of the eight sites, does the on-site committee rep have use of a meeting room in a hotel, is there sort of a nerve center for an operation space at each of the eight sites?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: At the site of the first and second rounds, each committee member, each assigned committee member that's at a site, has an office, has a room set aside in the facility, in the actual playing facility, where they are able to watch games, be in telephone contact and/or Internet contact with other committee members, with the NCAA staff, with me. My role this year as chair will be in the command center in Indianapolis during the first and second rounds. Each committee member assigned to sites has their own room at the headquarter hotel in the city, but particularly on that first practice day when there are eight teams, and the committee member is in a that facility from about 9 a.m. to probably 9:30 p.m., they do have a place to get away for a few minutes while teams are practicing, and may want privacy, et cetera. But it's right in the facility, right in the playing facility of the arena.
Q. I'm wondering how the committee weighs a game where there is subsequently an acknowledged officiating mistake. For the team that loses, how do you judge that game?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Again, it's much like the question about injuries. It has to be considered. It has to be brought up. The committee member who has the monitoring assignment for that team and for that conference would be obliged to bring that to the attention of the committee.
I know at the University of Virginia, a number of years ago, we had such a game. We were a team that was on the bubble. The question that we had and the question that our local media had was whether that game, the fact we lost that game, going to hurt us in terms of our eventual review and evaluation as an at-large team, potential at-large team.
Again, those are factors that are considered. There's no sort of definitive weighting of how much that is going to impact one way or the other the affected teams.
It also has an impact on the team that wins. Would they have won that game but for this mistake, whether it's a timing mistake or some other sort of issue related to the administration of the game.
But it's something that is brought up. It's something that has to be discussed. It's something that has to be factored. But every one of the 10 people will give it a different level of consideration than the next person.
Q. About protecting seeds, you're trying to balance the field regionally as much as possible, but you also are trying to avoid putting higher seeds in positions where they face a home-court disadvantage against lower seeds. The question is, does that extend beyond the first round into the second round? I didn't understand the answer on that earlier.
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: You're talking about the lower seed playing in a geographically advantaged situation against a higher seed after the first round?
Q. Right. Let me give you an example. This is purely hypothetical. Say you put a three seeded Tennessee in Greensboro against sixth seeded North Carolina. Obviously, North Carolina would have a home-court advantage when they played in the second round. Is that something you're actively trying to avoid?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, I might need some help because I'd have to go actually to the written materials here that I'm not going to be able to go right to it in the policies and procedures. I believe it's just in the first round that the protection would be there.
Is there somebody on the call that would be able to help me with that, Dave?
GREG: You're right.
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: It's the first round only.
Q. They're talking about this maybe being a breakthrough year with the mid-majors. How is the Colonial looking on your radar, UNC Wilmington?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: It would be difficult to specify any one team, any one league now in terms of how I might feel as an individual committee member or the chair.
But I can say that it has been a very good year in terms of the overall competitiveness of games, games of mid-major teams against higher major teams. I was just thrilled to have the opportunity to watch 20 some odd games last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The bracket busters in particular was a tremendous opportunity to see teams that were competitively very evenly matched, to see how those teams from those different leagues that participated in the bracket busters did against each other.
Colonial has had a very good year, as well as Missouri Valley, Sunbelt, the Mid-American Conference, just to name a few. But I wouldn't be in a position right now to say any one team from any of those leagues has had the opportunity to complete the work they need to complete for inclusion in the tournament at this point in time. Still too early.
Q. I know when committee member's specific teams are under discussion, committee members will recuse themselves, whether the very makeup of the committee does tend to put any of its members in any sort of compromising or difficult position, at least from outside perspective, and how you might deal with that?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, I think that we always try to err on the side of preserving integrity and being able to at the end of the process stand up and feel good about what we did or what we did not do at a particular point in time.
Yes, if a committee member's institution is being discussed, that person will recuse themselves, in the case of a commissioner many times when we have situations of multiple teams from a particular league, that committee member might spend more of their time on a given day out of the room than they would in the room. I can think specifically in the past couple years, Commissioner Slive and Commissioner Wyberg, the years that they were on the committee with multiple teams under consideration, they were up and down, up and down, up and down over the course of Friday and early Saturday.
There is every attempt made to make sure there's no bias that's brought into the room as a result of current employment. The NCAA staff is there to keep us up to date. The technology that we have as we begin to cast votes will also help us as a safety net, that is it won't allow a person to vote for their own school or their own schools. So I think that everything is built to preserve the integrity of the committee, the integrity of the system that we have in place.
Q. The PAC-10 right now has an interesting situation in that Cal is tied for first place, a couple teams below them in the standings that seem to have substantially better overall resumes. I'm curious, is that a tough situation, you're in a position where a fourth place team looks like a better chance for the tournament than a second place team? Is that something that has to be reconciled?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: It's something that has to be reconciled. I think there have been a couple examples in past selections where teams with better records have been leapfrogged by teams below them in their conference standings. I guess the answer to that, as to why it happened, was because of the teams that that lower-ranked team in a particular league, the teams that it beat either in the conference or out of the conference, some other factor that might have justified that particular decision.
Again, I can think back to a situation from my own institution, University of Virginia, a number of years ago, I believe we finished 9-7 in the league, finished ahead of the league or tied with North Carolina, whom we beat twice during the regular season. They were selected and we weren't.
That situation can happen. I don't know if that will be the case this year because the PAC-10 does have still in some cases two or three or four games remaining to play. Hopefully it won't come down to that kind of decision. If it does happen, I'm sure we'll be prepared to deal with it.
Q. Even though the committee has the luxury of allowing regular season rematches, will the committee try to prevent those for as long as possible?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: In an ideal world, we would like to avoid those sorts of repeats, the rematches, if you will, that have taken place in the regular season. It does become a little bit more challenging with some of the dynamics of the conference realignments, et cetera, that we talked about before. To the degree that we can avoid doing that, we would like to do so.
We have a committee member, actually two committee members, whose other responsibility in our safety net procedures is to be on the lookout for that. Our technology does also help to flag those sorts of situations. We do want to try to avoid them if at all possible.
Q. You spoke of some of the success some of the mid-major conferences have been having this season. At the same time there's a lot of people who probably find the thought that a conference such as the Missouri Valley could get maybe three, four, five teams into the tournament. As a committee member, how would you answer any kind of criticism that would arise if the Valley would be worthy of that many spots?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, I would say, first of all, the committee is selecting teams on the basis of teams and what they've done, not on the basis of what conference they're in. It would be coincidental only that multiple teams, three, four, five, whatever the number is, would be selected from any conference.
I would say, again, and start with the justification of a complete and thorough review of what those teams did, who they did it against. That's the way we select them. We don't select them on the basis of the conference.
Q. I just want to clarify as far as the number of games that a team can play at a site and still be able to play there in a tournament. In a situation like the ACC tournament in Greensboro, the week before the first and second round games in Greensboro, any team from 5 through 12 who might happen to make the finals would play four games then, and Duke, which has already played a game there, if they reach the finals, they would play four games. Is that a factor or does the tournament only count at one game?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Greg, could you help me there?
GREG: The regular season, it's three games in the regular season, not including conference tournaments. That is what the limitation is at a particular venue. So in the case of the example that you've provided, that wouldn't apply.
Q. When we have the situation in the Big East where only 12 the 16 are making the conference tournament, how do you evaluate a team that doesn't make the conference tournament that potentially could have credentials for the NCAA tournament?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: We will look very closely, as was mentioned before, not only at who they played in-conference, but who they played out-of-conference. You may have a situation where a team does not make it but has played a very, very good and challenging non-conference schedule and has done well in that non-conference schedule.
Does it impact the resume? Certainly it impacts the resume. But we will take into consideration what they have done season-long and see exactly how it nets out in terms of what we feel as though they are in terms of an at-large nominee in comparison to other teams that might be similarly situated or that might look like them on paper.
Q. How might it hinder a team on the bubble to have a very poor record against the RPI top 50, including blowout losses on national TV?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, again, this sort of hypothetical, it's difficult to quantify it to say exactly with any sort of precision how much it's going to impact. It's a factor that would be taken into consideration. If there are factors that might strengthen it on the other hand in terms of good wins against quality opponents, that might be enough to carry the day. Again, there's no precise answer other than that the committee will provide due diligence and make sure that it takes into consideration the entire body of work, if you will, what they've done season-long and what they've done against all the opponents they've played.
Q. How many games have the members of the committee seen in person?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: I don't have that in front of me. I can tell you, because I had this question asked of me yesterday, I've seen in person, exclusive of our games at the University of Virginia, I believe the number was 14 or 15 games, predominantly in this region, the mid Atlantic region. And of the teams that I would say are teams that would be under consideration of at-large that we have played at home, in particular, I've seen probably another six games from those teams.
Last week alone I saw 20 some odd games on TV or videotaped, TiVo, et cetera. The trade-off of going out on a given day or a given evening when you might see one, possibly two games, on a Saturday or Sunday you might be able to see multiple games, as opposed to being able to stay home, with cable, Direct TV, VCRs, et cetera, be able to see multiple games.
It is something that since I've been on the committee I've tried to do mainly because I just like to watch basketball. I've gone to games when I've been on other trips, might have been on fund-raising trips, football trips, and I might have had spare time to go out and see a game. It might not have been a game from among top 20 teams. But we have encouraged the committee members to get out, to put a more public face on the committee, to make contact with coaches, ADs around the country. All the committee members have endeavored to do that. Again, the number personally was about 14 or 15 games I've seen in person, exclusive of UVA home games.
Q. You made a couple references to new technology, safety net technology, preventing rematches and so forth. Can you give me an idea of any new technological advances in the last couple years that help with the process?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: I'd say, yes, on a fundamental level, my first two years, the numerous votes that we made during selection weekend were all done on paper ballots, carbonless paper ballots. Now our system is in place where all of our votes are being cast electronically.
When we had votes, let's say, from among a list of let's say eight schools, we used to do it on a grease board or on a board where we have Velcro with the names of the teams, and we put those teams physically up on the board. Now, those teams appear on our laptop computers in the committee room during selection weekend. We have right there in front of us those schools that we might be voting on, ranking them one through eight, et cetera.
We also have not only the hard copies of the team sheets, that is the complete resume of the teams, their schedule, their last 10 games, the quadrants of schedules of games against top 50, top hundred, 101 to 200, 201 and above, we not only have those hard copies, but we also have access to all that information on the laptop as well. We're able to make actual comparisons one on top of the other.
Let's just say, for example, you have three teams that a committee member might have difficulty deserving and differentiating, that committee member might ask to have those three schools put up side by side, if you will, or one on top of the other, and we can compare them at one time on the computer screen and on overhead screen, their last 10 games, each of these three teams' games, success against the top 50, top 100, et cetera.
Those are just a few of the things that have been advances in the three previous years, and we continue to fine tune not only the technology but how the technology is implemented and used by each of the committee members.
Q. I'm sure you're aware the Big-10 has been playing an unbalanced schedule for several years dating back to when Penn State entered the league, then decided to go to a 16-game schedule. Since then, most people seem to agree this year, Michigan State, despite their talent, got a tough break on the schedule. They got a little tougher conference schedule than most of the other teams in the league. Can you take anything from looking at the Big-10 over the last several years and apply it to the situation you're facing today with the Big East and maybe some other conferences?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, unfortunately I cannot, mainly because the Big-10 is not one of the conferences that I've had responsibility for monitoring over the years. Again, I'll come back to the idea that it's about the teams, who they've played both in-conference and out-of-conference, and not necessarily just of the conference that they're in.
I'd have to maybe take a look at the Big-10 or the other leagues to be able to see if there's anything to be gleaned from lessons learned over time. As it relates specifically to the Big-10, I wouldn't be able to speak to that mainly because I've been more on the sidelines as a listener and observer and haven't really studied it as intently as those that have had the Big-10 as one of the conferences they were responsible for.
Q. You referred to the blockbuster weekend, the makeup of those games, the number of teams you got to see. Would a game like the Bucknell game at Northern Iowa, that they basically lost in the last three seconds with a bad in-bounce pass, does that qualify in those good losses category?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: In my opinion, it would. Once again, we're dealing with a somewhat subjective definition of a good loss, bad loss. We go through this when we have our selection orientation. Each committee member starts to talk about the teams in the different leagues. What for one committee member might be viewed as a good loss, for another committee member might be perceived as a bad loss.
If you look at the games that are yet to be played in leagues around the country, you might have a second or third place team in the league that's playing a team that's maybe one or two places from the bottom of that league. Particularly if that game is played on the home site of the lower place team in that league, the home team wins, that might not necessarily be a bad loss even though at face value you might say the team that should be favored lost the game.
There was a game, I can't remember which one it was, Evansville, Southern Illinois, for example, Southern Illinois went on the road at Evansville, just to give an example, just last night. Evansville is a heck of a ballclub and won that game. I wouldn't look at that as a bad loss, just to give you an example of how subjective that sort of analysis can be.
Q. How much of a challenge is it for a team like Southern Illinois that loses that game, for mid-major teams, getting upset in their conference can hurt their resume more than a team in a larger conference like Texas losing to Oklahoma State?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Rephrase your question, if you could. I'm not sure that I got your question.
Q. How much more of a challenge is it for a mid-major team getting upset in their conference can hurt their resume more?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Well, I think the mid-major team on the basis of their non-conference schedule can certainly help themselves. There are any number of examples of teams that have done that, that they've gone out and attempted to play good, balanced schedules so that those non-conference schedules have been more than able to compensate for maybe an upset game in the conference tournament or an upset in the regular season late in the year. But it is a challenge for those teams in particular, I would say.
Q. I was wondering about how rematches come into this, if a team loses one game against a team, then comes back and beats them, especially in those conferences without round-robin play, how do you look at that?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: Once again, I'm having difficulty understanding the question.
Q. We've talked about good losses and bad losses. If there's a bad loss but yet a team comes back and plays them again and beats them, how is that weighed, how are those looked at? Are they two separate games or a rematch taken into consideration?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: I would say they're two separate games for sure.
Q. You were talking about how you flagged the match-up possibilities. Do you worry at all about where the venues are if a team has already played a game in a certain venue?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: When we talk about the venue, are you talking about the assignment of a team to a venue?
Q. Yeah, like say Arizona, if they got Salt Lake.
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: We will know during selection weekend where teams have played during the regular season and whether they would potentially be going back to a site, whether that site would be defined as a home site for them on the basis of the number of games they played there. Yes, we would know that.
Q. Tongue in cheek, but how well do you know Tubby Smith and do you owe him any favors?
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE: The answer is that I owe no one favors. I know a number of coaches very well in Division I basketball, having spent 20 or so years as both an assistant and a head coach. I feel very comfortable that those with whom I've had relationships either competing against, recruiting against, working with, have all been extremely professional in all my dealings with them throughout the time I've been on the committee. At no time have I ever felt as though somebody was expecting favors from me. At the same time when I have spoken to coaches to ask them about their teams, I have as well, and they have very freely offered counsel and insights on other teams they have played in and out of their leagues.
Tubby and I have known each other since he was an assistant coach at VCU, I was an assistant coach at the University of Virginia 20 some odd years ago. Again, I began the answer to the question by saying there's nobody I owe any favors to.
I've enjoyed the opportunity to get together with you this afternoon, and appreciate what you all do year-round, but particularly during the months of February and March, to put focus on college basketball, the quality of play, the quality of the teams, our coaches. We are very enthused about what we have seen so far, look forward to a great finish to the regular season and, again, outstanding play in the tournaments, the respective tournaments that will take place around the country.
We endeavor to try to provide as much transparency as possible within reason as to how the committee works, why it does what it does. But, again, I want to thank you for the work that you do to promote the game and to promote the values we think are very important in terms of Division I college basketball.
DAVID WORLOCK: Thank you, Craig. Thanks, as well, to all those who listened and participated on this afternoon's call.
The principles and procedures document was cited a couple times during today's call. If you'd like to get some insight into some selecting, seeding and bracketing process, you can go to www.NCAAsports.com or email me at DWorlock@NCAA.org.
Finally I would like to remind you the second teleconference prior to Selection Sunday will take place two weeks from today, Wednesday, March 8, at 3:00 eastern time. Just email me if you need any of that information repeated.
If you need anything regarding the basketball championships, please don't hesitate to contact any member of our staff in Indianapolis. Again, we appreciate you joining us, look forward to visiting with you again on Wednesday, March 8.

End of FastScripts...

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