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NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 14, 2010
DAVE WORLOCK: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the teleconference with committee chair Dan Guerrero, the athletics director at UCLA. A reminder that tomorrow at 3 p.m. eastern time, we'll have another teleconference with Dan. If we do not get to your question this evening, you will have another opportunity for tomorrow. If you need the pass code for tomorrow's call, email me at email@example.com.
Let's go ahead and get right to our first caller for Chair Guerrero.
Q. Question about the Big East. I know one of the rules is that you're not supposed to meet until the regional final unless you can't avoid it. You have two scenarios where Marquette could meet Notre Dame, Villanova in the Sweet 16. Can you explain how the committee dealt with that earlier than the rules allow?
DAN GUERRERO: The committee did everything that they could to separate those teams as much as possible. As you well know having sat through the mock selection process, once you get into the bracketing scenario, it can be pretty complicated and sometimes very challenging.
But we made every effort to avoid a fourth rematch considering the conference tournament. Just happened to go that route. In some respects, we also looked at the fact that we tried to match up teams that only played once during the regular season. In essence, that's where we wound up.
Q. Mr. Guerrero, I wanted to ask you about Duke being on the No. 1 line. What put them ahead of Syracuse on the 1 line, and maybe even West Virginia, I thought West Virginia would merit consideration for the 1 line.
DAN GUERRERO: You know, you're right on in terms of your assumptions. We really deliberated for a considerable amount of time throughout the week relative to the 1's. All of the teams that obviously are on the 1 line are very strong, have tremendous rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©s.
West Virginia, as you indicated, also has a tremendous rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©. We deliberated quite a bit on the potential of them being moved up to that particular line.
In Duke's case, obviously they won 11 of their last 12 games. All of the teams that are on that line are deserving. They won their conference championship, going through quite a gauntlet with some great teams. And, of course, they went through the post-season tournament and won that as well.
The committee felt that there was some value certainly in that kind of a season.
As relates to Syracuse, a fabulous team. Obviously had a terrific year. They did lose their last two games. In the end, we just felt that the kind of season that Duke had, having gone through the year winning both the conference, having a great out-of-conference schedule, and winning the post-season tournament, carried the day.
Q. Could you walk us through the thought process as it pertains to Virginia Tech and what you saw on their rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©.
DAN GUERRERO: Was the question regarding Virginia Tech?
Q. Yes, the thought process in terms of Virginia Tech and examining their rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©.
DAN GUERRERO: Okay. Once again, when you go through the process of evaluating teams, and this year was particularly unique as it relates to the number of teams that the committee vetted out. During my entire five-year period, it was greater this year than during any other year. So we had to put a number of teams on the board and in the end make decisions that were very, very tough. It was certainly not an easy call for any one particular team.
In the end, as relates to Virginia Tech, we tried to distinguish between them and all of the other teams that we evaluated. We had more teams, as I indicated, on the board than in previous years. You know, there was one thing that I think stood out more than anything else. All the teams that we looked at were quality teams. They all had strengths. Many of them have blemishes. We deliberated at great length to make sure we peeled back the onion. There are certain things that ultimately will put someone in and certain things that ultimately will put someone out.
The bottom line is, as you start to peel back the onion, you start to look at certain criteria that make the difference. One of the things that allows us to distinguish between one team and another, as you know, is strength of schedule, especially non-conference strength of schedule. That was an area that really hurt Virginia Tech as we talked about whether they made the cut or not.
Q. In that same vein, when you talk about strength of schedule, what about head-to-head competition? I'm thinking of Wake Forest got a 9 seed after losing I believe five of their last six games, including one to Virginia Tech. That was a rather weak finish on their part. Why did they get in ahead of Virginia Tech there?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, when you talk about Wake Forest, we looked at the quality of the victories that they, in fact, had in conference as being a real plus. They had six top-50 wins, including nine conference wins over Xavier, Richmond and Gonzaga. When you have a conference that has an unbalanced schedule, certainly schools sometimes don't have the opportunity to dictate who they're going to play.
But in terms of Wake Forest, they had a formidable schedule in their particular conference, and the committee felt that they did reasonably well with that. The other thing is when you're evaluating teams, you're not just evaluating, for example, a Wake Forest versus Virginia Tech, you're evaluating both those teams against all the other teams that are potentially in the field. So no one game gets a team in, no one game puts you out. Head-to-head certainly does have some bearing, but you have to look at the entire body of work before you say that's the final criteria.
Q. I noticed that New Mexico is the only top four seed not from a power conference. How close were teams like Butler and Temple moving from the 5 line up to the 4?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, it's real hard to say, you know, how close any one team was from any particular seed. All teams get a very serious look as we go through the process of seeding. And we compare one team versus another.
We'll do an initial seed list. We'll put them on the board, and then we spend a lot of time scrubbing that list. Don't worry about conference affiliation or anything of that nature. It's simply going down the seed list and when you're comparing one team versus another. We talk through each of those situations. We do that early in the process as we first start to put teams in, and then we continue to do that throughout the entire weekend.
Obviously, the key is to put the best 34 teams out there and to seed them in a manner that we feel is appropriate. And when it's all said and done, the field that we put forward with the seeds, with the teams on their respective lines, is exactly what we thought was best for the tournament.
Q. The Arinze Onuaku injury in Syracuse, how much of a factor did that play with Syracuse falling behind Duke on that 1 line?
DAN GUERRERO: Whenever there's an injury, especially one of that magnitude, we make certainly that we endeavor to get as much information as we can to ascertain whether an individual player can play, whether they continue, whether they can be at full speed, certainly to the best of our abilities.
In that particular case, the reports that we received back from Syracuse were very positive in that regard. You know, you hate to see a student-athlete hurt, and you hate to see that have an impact on any aspect of this tournament. But it is a factor.
You know, we still thought that Syracuse would be able to play with him in there. We feel that he's going to be able to come back, based on the information that we have. They've earned a No. 1 seed. They are going to be able to play close to home. Hopefully they'll be able to do that with that young man in the lineup.
Q. I was curious about Notre Dame getting a 6 seed. I was wondering if you could take us through that. Was primarily what helped them out most how they fared in the Big East tournament?
DAN GUERRERO: That certainly enhanced their rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©. We talk a lot about the entire body of work. There's a lot of talk about last 12 games, those kinds of things. We evaluate each time based on what they do in November and December and January, and certainly February and March.
In this particular case, Notre Dame is a good example of a team that, you know, kind of put it all together there at the end. It certainly enhanced their rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©, not just the fact that they won some games, but the magnitude of the games that they won were considerably of a strong stature. They certainly played well down the stretch.
As we evaluated where to place them on the seed list, you know, we wanted to make certain that we were thoughtful about their entire season, but also giving them the opportunity to, you know, merit a good seed based on what they've done of late.
Q. In regard to Illinois, there were a lot of pros and cons tossed around about them in the last week. Ultimately, was it just 14 losses and the 75 RPI too much of a combination to overcome or did was it a cumulative thing with them?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, you know, Illinois is certainly one of those teams that merited strong, strong consideration. They were on the board for a long time. We certainly talked and deliberated about them in comparison to many of the other teams.
You know, in the end, you talk about their RPI. We really don't reflect so much on RPI. That's reflective of certain things. You know, they did impress to some degree, obviously in their performance in the Big Ten tournament. But when you look at the entire body of work in a general sense, they had some situations where they lost to some teams below 100 on the RPI. They were below, you know, .500 versus teams in the top 100. Their conference strength schedule was not the strongest.
But that's taken into consideration with a number of other factors that we compare with other teams. And, you know, the deliberation that we had relative to Illinois and other teams that didn't get in, probably the best conversation we've had since I've been on the committee, a lot of robust dialogue, going over every aspect of these teams, 10 individuals with different perspectives.
You know, in the end, Illinois didn't make the cut. That's very unfortunate because we know that getting an opportunity to play in the Big Dance is a big thing for the coaches and the student-athletes and certainly their fans. But in this particular case, we just didn't feel that they were strong enough to make the field.
Q. You talked about Illinois. Could you talk a little bit about Minnesota, a bubble team.
DAN GUERRERO: Well, we thought that Minnesota obviously had a great showing down the stretch. They did have five top-50 wins, as well, obviously in the top 50. Nice win over Butler. We just thought that they were a pretty strong team.
Obviously they did beat, even though we're not just comparing them to, for example, Illinois, they did beat them in a head-to-head situation, had some quality wins over Purdue and Wisconsin and Ohio State, Michigan State, clearly the class of their conference. Reasonably strong strength of schedule, both overall and in non-conference. As a result of that, with their 21 wins, we felt they deserved being in.
Q. Ohio State is in the same region as overall No. 1 Kansas. Does that mean that Ohio State is the No. 8 overall seed? If not, why have them play the No. 1 overall seed in the same regional?
DAN GUERRERO: No, that's not necessarily what that means. The principles and procedures often dictate what we can do as it relate is to placement and bracketing and things of that nature. It's sort of the road map that allows us to do our jobs when we get to that part of the equation.
So in answer to your question, that isn't necessarily the case.
Q. The fact that I think Virginia Tech had I think more top-50 wins than UTEP or Utah State, does that indicate that's not as important a factor as people think or is that more in Virginia Tech's case the fact that the you're more looking at who the wins came against because of unbalanced schedules these days?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, that certainly happened to be part of the equation in that particular situation. When you talk about, you know, a team like Utah State and UTEP, these are teams that had outstanding road records. One had 10 top 100 wins, the other had eight top 100 wins. They obviously don't have the opportunity to play the same caliber of competition in conference. But in both cases, their strength of schedules overall, non-conference strength of schedules, were clearly superior to Virginia Tech's.
Once again, you're splitting hairs on a number of issues. But all teams have the opportunity to show the committee, you know, how they match up against other teams in the field by what they do in their non-conference. In the case of both of those teams that you just mentioned, they did a better job.
Q. Is the lesson to be learned, you need to be more efficient in non-conference scheduling when you're Virginia Tech, you can't rest on your AC record, because the committee is looking at who the 10 wins came against?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, it certainly leaves a team at risk. You don't want to leave any stone unturned. You don't want to give the committee any reason to ding you, if you will, by not having a balanced schedule I guess is the best way I can say that.
In this particular case, just because a team plays in a quality conference, you know, doesn't necessarily mean that by running the table you're definitely going to get in. I think this year was a good example in that regard. Certainly a team that's in a quality conference that has good wins is going to merit strong consideration. I can assure you with the highest degree of confidence, we spent a lot of time, a lot of time, looking at all of those teams.
Q. I'm at the SEC tournament, where Mississippi State played top seed Kentucky down into overtime. Also did that in the regular season. Please tell me how close they came to making the field and what prevented them from making it.
DAN GUERRERO: Well, you know, obviously Mississippi State was definitely in the conversation. You know, we were all very excited to see them make that run there at the end. But, you know, it's the entire body of work in a general sense. We've said that all along.
You know, their strength of schedule, their non-conference strength of schedule, weren't that strong. 12 of their 15 non-conference games were against teams below 110, and they certainly had four losses to teams below 100.
That being said, Mississippi State was a quality team. You know, sometimes you have a tendency to want to do some impulse buying based on a great run in a tournament as Mississippi State just had. But in the end, that in and of itself wasn't enough to get them into the field.
Q. After doing the mock bracket last month, I think a lot of us got a real appreciation to how thin the line is to sort out the bubble teams. When did the committee finalize the order of at-larges and were there a couple teams similar to Syracuse where you went round and round and really chewed the fat on them?
DAN GUERRERO: Yeah, we actually finished everything late last night, but it wasn't finalized until today. We voted on the final sequence of at-large teams, you know, last night. Came into the room this morning really scrubbing the at-large field, allowing everyone to sleep on it and to bring up any issues, any concerns that anyone may have had.
There were obviously other games that were left to be played. In fact, when we put our heads on the pillow last night, you know, there was still one game being played out west. So as we build a bracket or as we start to look at the field in a general sense, we always have to put in contingencies based on outcomes of certain games. Good example is New Mexico State winning their post-season tournament. That threw a monkey wrench into some of the discussion we had for some teams that were on the bubble or primed to be part of the field. Then we had to see what happened today in some of those tournaments. The Mississippi State issue was another one that came into play.
But we scrubbed the list once again, the seed list, well into the afternoon to make certain that we were comfortable with our work. And when we got to that point, we basically said, Okay, let's start bracketing, we think we're done.
I actually got the final bracket, you know, about 5:00, something of that nature, and really had the first opportunity to take a look at it.
Q. I was wondering, in the past the committee chair has discussed who the first three or four teams out were. Are you willing to do that?
DAN GUERRERO: No. What I'll say is that the list that we were evaluating as it relates to at-larges or potential at-larges was much larger than ever before. I mean, you can put them on two hands, for crying out loud. We don't actually share the information in terms of who was the last four in or the last four out. That's more for the pundits out there to think through.
But, again, I can assure you that we had a number of teams that were in the mix that we were evaluating, that we measured their strengths and weaknesses against each other, and in the end we're comfortable with the field we produced.
Q. I was curious, with regard to Seton Hall, what the biggest deciding factor was. They didn't have bad losses. Was it lack of quality road wins that was the deciding factor?
DAN GUERRERO: Was the question regarding Seton Hall?
DAN GUERRERO: You know, I believe Seton Hall had a terrific year, there's no question about that. You know, a couple of things that you look at when you evaluate their rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ© is, you know, they certainly had a number of tough losses throughout the course of the year to some good teams. But in the end, you know, their strength of schedule, non-conference, was okay. It wasn't great. They had a lot of teams below 240 that they played. We felt even though they didn't have any real bad losses, and we considered them greatly, we just didn't think they had enough to be able to get in the field over the others that we selected.
Q. Could you tell me sort of the challenges, if there was, the PAC-10 teams, making the decision on the two that got in? Was there any third PAC-10 team that was involved in discussion towards the end or close to the end?
DAN GUERRERO: As you well know, the PAC-10 automatic qualifier was determined by the game that was played last night. That's how Washington got in. Cal, of course, was -- I talked about the number of teams that the committee reviewed. Certainly, you know, what benefited Cal is not only winning the conference championship, but their non-conference strength of schedule was one of the best in the country.
You know, the committee just in a general sense thought that the injuries that Cal had suffered at the very beginning of the year when they played both Syracuse and Ohio State factored into the mix when that decision was made.
In the end, the committee felt strongly about Cal entering the field, and actually seeded them on the 8 line, as you well know.
Q. A question regarding Gonzaga. There was speculation early about whether they could land in Spokane, which went out the window. Most people had projected them as maybe around the 5 line before the Saint Mary's loss. They end up on the 8 line. I'm wondering, were they a true 8 and what was your thought process there?
DAN GUERRERO: Obviously Gonzaga had a terrific year. We don't really release the true seeding in any way, shape or form.
You are correct that given placement in a certain line, they could have, in fact, played in Spokane. It obviously didn't work that way. As you know, when you get into the bracketing exercise, there are a number of things that come into play, especially when you have a number of teams from a particular region that get factored in. That's when the principles and procedures come into play. Sometimes things happen along the way as the bracketing takes place.
Q. I wanted to ask you how you arrived at a 4 seed for Purdue in light of the Hummel injury and how they finished up in the Big Ten tournament. Maybe talk about the field in general. You have a PAC-10 only getting two teams in, the Big Ten with five. Seems like there's more diversity with the mid-majors getting into the field these days.
DAN GUERRERO: I'll answer your Purdue question first.
Obviously the injury to Robbie Hummel was going to have some kind of an impact on Purdue from the time that he was injured. We had the benefit - when I say 'we', I mean the committee - of seeing several games after Robbie went down. On the basis of the evaluation of Purdue's performance, we obviously felt that they weren't the same team without him.
In order to have integrity in the bracket and make sure we were honest to everyone in the field, Purdue did slip. There's no question about that. I think everyone knows that Purdue is a fantastic team, especially with him in there. The seed obviously was impacted negatively by the fact he went out. They would have been, in my opinion, much higher than that.
As far as the mid-major situation, how the field wound up, you know, irrespective of where a team is from, what conference they're from, what geographic area they're from, we don't really think in the context of power conferences, major, non-major, whatever the case may be. In fact, I didn't even know what the breakdown was of the teams we had in the field until I was getting ready to go to prepare for the CBS show about an hour ago.
So, once again, it's just a matter of the best 34 teams that we felt were deserving of being in the field. And it just so happened that that's the way it wound up this year.
Q. I wanted to ask you about I think in the past one of the official criteria for the committee had been how teams finish their final 10 games or 12 games. You talked about how Duke's finish was particularly impressive to the committee and that helped move them ahead of Syracuse on the 1 line. In other cases, the way a team finished did not seem to necessarily have such a big impact, whether it be they struggled down the stretch and got a good seed or played particularly well and wound up in the same area. Can you explain the committee's thinking and process on that particular criteria.
DAN GUERRERO: Sure. You know, the last 10 games or the last 12 games, you know, that whole issue as a means of criteria has sort of been misunderstood. We always have that information available to us on the team sheets that are provided, not so much in the form of a particular number, particular criteria. We can evaluate each schedule based on what is done in non-conference, what is done in conference. There are dates of each game. So that information is readily available to us.
What we eliminated was having the actual last 12 games spelled out for us on the team sheet because there was a misconception by many out there that if a team finished 11-1 versus a team a team that finished 7-5, that was going to be the tipping point for someone entering the field. And that isn't necessarily the case. A team that finishes 7-5 against better competition might have an edge over a team that finishes 11-1 or 10-2.
So we didn't want there to be a misunderstanding out there that that was an absolute or a deal maker or a deal breaker in any way, shape or form. It's one of several items that we evaluate, you know, just as we look at strength of schedule, top-50 games, both in conference, out of conference, the quality of your schedule, how many road games you played versus how many home games you played. All of those things factor into the mix.
As a team, as you indicated, maybe not finishing as strong, there may be other elements, other criteria that is on the rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ© that makes the difference as to whether they get in or even where they're seeded.
Q. According to the last 10 or 12 games played they're not more heavily weighted; it's based on the entire body of work. How does that affect you when you put a lot of emphasis on the eyeball test coming down to the end of the season?
DAN GUERRERO: I'm going to try to repeat your question because I had a little bit of trouble hearing it. I think you alluded to the last 10, 12 games again, that that could be a factor in our decision making. But in conjunction with that, you mentioned something about the eyeball test, and perhaps how do we factor that in, as well.
Q. How do you separate the two?
DAN GUERRERO: Okay. As we go through the entire season, and we start obviously in November, the 10 members of the committee are involved in what we call a conference monitoring program. Each committee member is assigned three or four conferences, and it's their responsibility to really dig deep throughout the course of the year on every one of those conferences.
Collectively the committee looks at all of the teams across the country, as well. We have access to them via, you know, television just like everyone else. Teams send us videos. We personally go to a number of games and watch them over the course of the year. I think that's where your eyeball test comes in. We get a lot of information from a number of good basketball people, great basketball people. There's a variety of information available to us, not only quantitatively, but qualitatively.
Obviously from our own perspectives as we watch games and as we talk to other coaches, legends of the game itself, there's a regional advisory committee comprised of 31 present-day coaches that are in each of the regions, and they provide us with input as who they feel are the strongest programs in the country.
So the collection of all that information and all that expertise, if you will, allows us to prepare when we get into this room.
In the end, when you talk about the eyeball test, as we're deliberate between one team and another, if we see teams, if we've actually watched them play against, for example, other teams that are being compared, that does have a bearing on decisions that we make.
And as it relates to the last 12 games, last 10 games, it can enhance a rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©, there's no question about it. I think you've probably seen in a couple of cases there are teams who finished pretty strong. If it didn't get them into the field, it certainly helped them with the seed.
Q. UTEP and Utah State got in as at-larges, didn't have the non-conference body of work. How much did the committee respect them winning convincingly their regular season titles of their respective conferences? Secondly, I know you try to avoid a little bit of a home advantage in a first round. An 11 seeded Minnesota is playing in nearby Milwaukee.
DAN GUERRERO: You're right as it relates to Utah State and UTEP. Frankly, we felt that they were both outstanding teams. You know, they had great runs during their season; in fact, both of them had significant winning streaks. In fact, probably the longest winning streaks in the country till they both were upset in their conference tournaments.
But, once again, these are teams that had I think eight and 10 top-100 wins respectively. The committee had high respect not only for what they did in conference but certainly what they did on the road, which was significant, and that's why they got in.
As relates to Minnesota's group, you know, it just so happened that, once again, you've been in the mock selection process, so you understand how that works, the pod that they're in just created a situation that allowed them the opportunity to be sent there. You know, we protect only the first five lines, as you well know, in the first round. So this gave us an opportunity to put them where we did against Xavier as a 6 seed.
Q. Realizing that you protect only the first five lines, is it possible that the day can come when some of those inequities below can be minimized, especially in terms of long- or short-distance travel?
DAN GUERRERO: You know, we do our best to minimize, to the extent possible. But you have to realize that two-thirds of the membership is east of the Mississippi. I believe it's 16 of the 65 teams are going to play west no matter how you slice it or dice it.
Once again, as we start to look at the principles and procedures, where teams can be sent, especially when you have multiple teams, a significant number of teams for one particular conference, it obviously comes into play when you're doing the bracketing.
That being said, that's something we can certainly look at as we get together in the spring and the summer meetings. We're always looking to tweak things. The travel issue can be a very complicated one based on principles and procedures that are in place.
Q. Kentucky, it's not a big deal, but they were shooting for the overall No. 1 seed. Can you tell me what advantage Kansas had to get that?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, it's splitting hairs, as you well know. But, you know, we just felt that Kansas had a fantastic season during the course of the year. You know, they played a lot of away games in the top 50. They had no losses, obviously, in the top 50 as well. In fact, it's hard to beat the rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ© that Kansas put together.
DAVE WORLOCK: We'll turn the call over to a couple members of our media who are here for questions.
Q. The number of at-large teams, if it created a sense of confusion with the committee in discussing a great number of teams for those final few spots.
DAN GUERRERO: I mean, it's a great meeting in the sense that we did have an opportunity to talk about a significantly greater number of teams this year. I knew going in, and I think the committee knew going in, that the whole issue of parity was one that was going to jump up and get us. And certainly that was reflective of the teams that were in the mix.
We submitted our initial ballots, as you well know, on Wednesday afternoon. We also had our under consideration pool. Our under consideration pool was, frankly, a little bit larger than it normally was. When you have a larger under consideration pool, you're going to spend more time peeling back the onion, and that's what we did.
Q. (No microphone.)
DAN GUERRERO: Sure. As you well know, when you have teams that, for example, might be on the bubble playing for an AQ, if they happen to win that automatic qualifier, then someone gets bounced. It happened last night. I mean, New Mexico State wins the WAC. As a result of that, a team gets eliminated.
Q. The bracket doesn't include powerhouse teams like UCLA, Arizona, North Carolina, Connecticut.
DAN GUERRERO: You know, it is strange, because obviously those are formidable teams, with great traditions. But I believe it's reflective of the culture of college basketball this year. Believe me, every one of those teams would have loved to have been represented in this tournament, but it didn't happen.
As a result of that, there's an opportunity for other teams out there, maybe teams that wouldn't have gotten in if those teams were back in, to create their own great stories.
That's why this tournament is so fantastic. The opportunity for some teams that haven't been in in a long team gives someone an opportunity to possibly make some magic. That's why it's a good tournament.
DAVE WORLOCK: We want to thank everyone for participating on this evening's teleconference. This concludes the teleconference. Again, we'll remind you, tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. eastern Dan will be available for approximately one hour. If you need the information to call and participate on the teleconference, please he mail David Worlock at the NCAA staff. Thanks, everyone. Good night. Enjoy March Madness.
End of FastScripts