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NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 15, 2010
DAVE WORLOCK: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this afternoon's teleconference with Dan Guerrero. We're going to jump right into questions here in a moment.
Dan, you've probably been asked a couple hundred questions in the last 21 hours since the bracketing was first unveiled. We hope you've had some time to reflect on the process. How would you describe the process this year, when you were chair of the committee, as to your previous four years on the committee.
DAN GUERRERO: Thank you, David. It's a pleasure to be with you and everyone from the media. I would say the biggest difference is that I have the dubious distinction of being the representative that speaks to the media after the selections. That's a little bit different from previous years.
Generally once the seeding and selection and bracketing takes place, the committee members go down and have a very nice dinner. Of course, there I was in my suit dealing with a number of questions. But it's an honor to represent the committee in this entire process, and I'm glad to be here with the media.
A couple of things I'd like to say before I take questions. As you well know, when we get into this process, we select a field of 65: 31 AQs and 34 of the best at-large teams. There's no question when it's all said and done there are going to be second guessers and individuals out there that might have some concern relative to the field that was put out. I can assure you with the highest degree of confidence that the members of the committee worked hard all year long monitoring various conferences, watching games, doing the best job they could to put forth a field that we feel will be one of the best in recent memory.
So with that being said, I just finished driving down to Dayton where the tournament will actually begin tomorrow night. There are 64 games in this tournament. There are only a few that have full national television coverage. This is one of them. The opening round game will be a huge game for our champion of the SWAC, Arkansas Pinebluff and Winthrop. It's an interesting contrast between those two teams. If you think about it, Winthrop has enjoyed remarkable success in recent years. In fact, they have had nine tournament appearances in the last 12 years. There aren't very many teams in the country that can say they've been to nine of the last 12 tournaments.
In terms of Arkansas Pinebluff, you're talking about a team that played an incredibly tough schedule early on. In fact, they started out the year 0-11, only to rebound with 17 wins of the last 21 games. That earned the Golden Lions their first ever trip to the NCAA tournament. Two great stories, two contrasting teams, but we feel the opening-round game tomorrow in Dayton will be great. It will be televised nationally on ESPN.
DAVE WORLOCK: Thank you, Dan. With that, we're ready for our first caller.
Q. I wanted to ask you, last night your remarks about the availability of Syracuse's Arinze and those of Syracuse Jim Boeheim differed tremendously. How do you feel about that?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, we can only go with the information that we were provided. We were reasonably assured that he was going to be fine. In fact, at this point in time we still don't know what 'fine' means. Obviously it appears as though Syracuse has made a decision to sit him out, at least for the first game. I'm not sure if he will play in the second game this week, assuming that they advance.
So, you know, once again, we do the best we can to gather the information from the sports information office, from the athletic department at any university that has that kind of an issue, and we make decisions on the basis of the information provided to us.
Q. Does it bother you? Do you feel misled?
DAN GUERRERO: No, I don't feel misled. I believe they provided the information they felt was appropriate at the time. There's no reason for us to question anyone's integrity in that circumstance. They made the decision that they made to sit him. In fact, I don't even know at this point in time, to be honest with you, whether he could play if they needed him in the first game.
Q. It appears he's saying they're going to sit him likely for the weekend.
DAN GUERRERO: I mean, that could be a determination that they made after the analysis of who their first two opponents are. I couldn't tell you any more than that.
Q. Who do you get the updates from from the school, in this case Syracuse?
DAN GUERRERO: The updates are provided by the university, generally speaking through their media relations department. I would say that's usually done in consultation with their medical staff.
Q. I know Maryland didn't have a problem with being a 4 seed. Is there consideration to keeping a higher seeded team like that closer to home where it's easier for fans and family to attend?
DAN GUERRERO: Sure, there always is an attempt by the committee to place teams, especially in the top lines, as close to home as reasonably possible.
One of the things that comes into play, however, and we've spoken about this on many occasions, is the whole principle and procedures policy that we must follow.
When you have multiple teams from any one conference in the field, especially when they're at the higher seeds, it really impacts the kind of thing that you can do from a bracketing standpoint.
But in answer to your question, we will make every attempt to try to keep teams, especially in those type lines, as close to home as possible.
Q. Do you consider where a team was last year? Last year Maryland was out in Kansas City. Are you able to look back and say, We don't want to send a team too far two seasons in a row, or is that not a factor?
DAN GUERRERO: We actually do look at that. We look at the history of the last several years to determine if, in fact, a team has been, for lack of a better word, disenfranchised. Not consciously. It happens, once again, just because of how the bracketing scenario takes place and where teams are seeded.
The bottom line is I know Maryland also played in Washington, D.C., a few years ago. It just so happened that that is the way it happened out in this particular year.
Q. The at-large deal has been pretty roundly dissed as one of the worst since this field got up to 64. So the questions are: what do you think of that general consensus, and now that you've had a night to look at it again, would it have been any better if you would have maybe brought some more major conference teams in, and I'm talking obviously like Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and Illinois?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, first of all, I'm not real sure what the general consensus is. I know that anytime a field is put forward, there are always going to be teams that are elated when the process is completed and there are always going to be teams that are disappointed because they didn't make the cut.
When we go through the process of evaluating teams, and we evaluate one team versus another, we don't look at conference affiliation, we don't look at major conference, power conference, mid-major conference, whatever the case may be. We look at teams.
We made a choice to put in 34 teams that we thought were the best 34 teams based on a number of criteria. You named a few teams there. I can assure you with the highest degree of confidence that we looked at every one of those teams, their entire body of work, what they did recently, what their schedules were, what their overall record was, what they did on the road, what they did against top 50, if they were from conferences where there are unbalanced schedules, we looked at that. We looked at everything.
In the end, there are certain factors that will allow a team to move into the field and there are certain factors that keep a team out. There are 10 individuals that evaluate each of those teams and they vote, and in the end you have a field.
Once again, you're going to have teams that are very disappointed, whether they're power conference teams, if you will, or whether they're mid-major teams. We recognize they work hard all year long, their coaches, student-athletes, fans would all loved to have had an opportunity to get in. There were 34 at-large spots, there weren't 35, there weren't 36, there weren't 50.
As I reflect back, I feel good the work the committee did and the field we put out there and I can assure you it's going to be a fantastic tournament.
Q. A number of national analysts have criticized the way Duke, they perceive Duke has the easiest road to the Final Four, they're the No. 3 overall seed. There's been some criticism of that. Also one went as far as to suggest that this was done in order to raise TV ratings for CBS. Can you address those ideas.
DAN GUERRERO: Well, I can tell you that if we wanted to raise TV ratings, I would have put UCLA in the field (laughter). No, that clearly isn't an issue.
You know, I would strongly encourage all of you, if you have the opportunity, to go through the mock selection process that the NCAA has put in place for the last several years. It really gives you a glimpse of what the committee does and how they do it. Once you do that, you can see that there's no overt attempt, there's no attempt at all, to manufacture something that's going to be 'better TV' or things of that nature.
In fact, as we go through the bracketing process, which is the last thing that we do, we don't necessarily go through it quickly, but we do it such that it doesn't come out initially the way you see it when it's in the paper the next day, where it shows all the matchups and things of that nature. We do it in an S-curve by seed, and it's on the computer screen. Until such time as the bracket is actually printed out, and I actually received the bracket at 5:00 p.m. yesterday as I was walking out the door as I was going to do the CBS selection show, I really didn't even know what teams were matched up against who.
As I was driving in the car, I had a good chance to look at some of the matchups. I'm very intrigued, like all the fans in America, about how it all sorted out.
But that's what makes the tournament great. It's going to be fantastic. We provided the colors to the pallet, if you will, for CBS and ESPN to broadcast this great tournament. They're going to paint the picture. The coaches and the kids on the court are going to create the masterpiece. All we did was provide basically the tools for them to do that.
Once again, I can assure you, it's going to be a great tournament.
Q. There's a lot of talk out here in the Bay Area of Cal getting set out to Jacksonville, St. Mary's to Providence, opposite side of the country. Was there any talk of putting either of those teams or maybe both in the 6 and 11 slots? Also San Diego State and UCSB are getting shipped out pretty far. What is the rationale in sending those teams so far away? Does that take away their competitive balance?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, you know, one would love to have all of the teams stay as regionally close as possible. But if you did that, then you'd really be manipulating the seed lines. The way the bracket goes sometimes with multiple teams from one given conference, that in a lot of respect compromises your ability to have flexibility on bracketing, you wind up with situations where teams get sent out.
If you recall last year, my particular team had to go out east. I know exactly why that happened. I know that every year those kinds of things are gonna happen.
When you have two-thirds of the teams in the country that play basketball east of the Mississippi, you are always going to have situations where, you know, assignment of sites and assignments to particular regions are not always going to fall the way you want.
In this particular case, based on seed, based upon availability of sites, that's how it turned out for Cal.
Q. In terms of just the San Jose teams, the teams you put in there, there's eight teams there that aren't a great draw for the Bay Area for a number of factors. Is that something that you analyze and discuss, whether you're going to be able to get crowds into that arena to see those eight teams?
DAN GUERRERO: You know, most of the sites have their tickets sold well in advance. But if you think of the teams that are in any given region, and you're talking about San Jose in particular, you're talking about Marquette, Washington, a West Coast school, New Mexico, a West Coast school, Montana, a West Coast school, those are all teams that I think whose crowds will follow. You have Butler, UTEP, Vanderbilt, Murray State. Those are some great teams. College basketball fans in Northern California and on the West Coast should flock to go see those games because it's a great opportunity.
I know San Jose has done a great job in getting ready for this tournament. They're excited about what they're going to be able to do to create a great experience for the people to go there.
You know what, a national championship could be won by one of those teams that's at that particular site. So I think fans should go out there and support the City of San Jose.
Q. You mentioned the S-curve for seeding. I've been through the mock bracket process. I notice that on the 2 line, West Virginia goes behind Villanova. Villanova got the better No. 2 seed. They're from the same conference. It seems that West Virginia had such a stronger rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ© than Villanova, yet got the worst between them, the worst No. 2 seed. Can you explain that?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, you know, I don't know why you're extrapolating that particular situation. The reality is, if you look at the teams on the 2 line, the team that is closest to their first and second round site happens to be West Virginia. They're going to Buffalo. I believe that's about 200 miles away from their university. And they're assigned to the east region. That's really the way it kind of shook down based on the S-curve.
Q. Just seems like they would have a tougher matchup against Kentucky.
DAN GUERRERO: You know, when you think about it, it's really how it all sorts out. Once again, we go through the S-curve. When you get to the second line, it's the first team that has the opportunity to be assigned closest to their university and closest to the region.
Once again, all four No. 1's are special teams, and so are the No. 2 seeds. Every one of them has an opportunity to win this championship. We don't really look at matchups, if you will.
Q. I have a broader question. Through your experience with the selection committee, being around the tournament, what is it about this tournament that captivates this country? If you look at television ratings, people are interested in college basketball, but certainly not to the extent they're going to be in the next week or two. Is it the aura of the bracket? Is there something about David and Goliath playing together? Is there something else at work here? What is going on here that has this nation enthralled with this event?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, first of all, as a foundational point, it's the game of college basketball in a general sense. You have the passion of fans who love their universities. You have student-athletes who work so hard to represent their teams, families, to play for each other, loyalty to their alma maters, trying to put their best foot forward, and just the opportunity to chase a ring, if you will.
We're in this business because we're competitive and we all want to do well. So when you get into a tournament of this magnitude, you alluded to it earlier, David versus Goliath, this is a tournament when where you start, it's a clean canvas and anyone win this thing. You have seen some teams that weren't expected to do well in this tournament advance to the Final Four and captivate not only their respective universities and communities but the entire country. That story could be told again this year.
As you saw, there are some teams that have been traditional powers that have always been in this tournament or certainly on a pretty regular basis and have even won this tournament not being a part of it this year. My school is one. We can cite many of the others. The fact that they're not in allows other teams the opportunity to get in and to maybe create something very special for themselves and for the university.
I think America, I think the world, because this is now a global tournament because of the different kinds of delivery systems that exist, you know, everyone will be able to see this tournament wherever they are. It's one of the great sporting events in all the world. I think the story that will be told this year will be special, just like the other ones are.
Q. I'm wondering, with the play-in game, with Duke playing the winner of the play-in game, I think there's a perception that the overall No. 1 seed is going to play the winner of the play-in game. Can you explain how it's determined which of the No. 1 seeds gets the winner of the play-in game?
DAN GUERRERO: Yeah. I'd like to just say there's no guarantee that the No. 1 seed will be locked in with the opening-round opponent. It's a policy that this particular game has to be at a Friday/Sunday site. Consequently, the committee placed it in the particular bracket that it did. But it's not necessarily because it's a true No. 1.
Q. It sounds like you're saying the priority is kind of a fairness thing so the team that plays on Tuesday has at least a little bit of recovery time?
DAN GUERRERO: And travel as well.
Q. You've worked with Gene Smith for four years now. What kind of committee chairman do you think he'll be next year?
DAN GUERRERO: He's going to be the best. I say that with great admiration for the kind of leader that he is. He's one of the great athletic directors in this country. I've had the pleasure of working with Gene both at Arizona State when he was the athletic director there in the PAC-10, and of course as he's moved on to the Ohio State University. I've had the opportunity to work with him on numerous committees, and of course on this particular committee.
He is smart. He's articulate. He knows the game very, very well. He's a hard worker. He'll be a great representative for the NCAA.
Q. He could be overseeing an expanded tournament. How much of a greater challenge could that be if it is 96, say?
DAN GUERRERO: It's an evergreen matter for us. It's heating up now because of the timing more than anything else. The NCAA is doing exactly what it should be doing. It has the opportunity to see what the future might look like. We keep an open mind about that possibility. The tournament is as it stands a great tournament. I alluded to that earlier in this teleconference. I think we all know that.
But that doesn't mean that the future of the tournament might be a different format. I think we all, once again, reserve the right to keep an open mind about it. Until such time as we get a better understanding of what that would mean, you know, the bottom line is this is about student-athletes. Every one of the student-athletes on the team, the 65 teams that play, have a chance to chase that ring. It's intriguing have the possibility of having more student-athletes with that possibility.
That being said, we need to sit back and evaluate and see what an expanded tournament might look like.
Q. You talked before the about the specialness of the tournament, how it's become a global phenomenon now. Do you have concerns if there would be another 32 teams worthy of being added to the tournament without cheapening it, or do you have some fears that would compromise what is one of the best sporting events around?
DAN GUERRERO: You know, that's a very good question. When you really evaluate the college basketball post-season landscape, there are 129 teams playing in different post-season events, including the NIT and some of the others that have been established recently.
It's pretty interesting. I was listening to a conversation yesterday. There are about 110 teams this year alone out of a little over 330 in the potential eligibility pool that have won over 20 games this year or at least 20 games this year. While that's not a benchmark anymore for any guaranteed post-season success, it's indicative there are a number of schools out there that are pretty good teams, and they're all playing, as I indicated, in post-season tournaments.
Who knows what a field could look like in an expanded tournament and what that might mean for all of those kids that are playing in their respective programs.
Does it cheapen it? I'm not going to say that it does at all, because I certainly don't know that. But the possibilities are sort of intriguing if you think about, you know, regular-season champions possibly getting into the field in addition to post-season tournament champions. That wouldn't cheapen the regular season. In fact, that would make it a little more exciting much. That's not to say that's what's going to happen. I think there's an opportunity to evaluate all those things and see what the impacts might be.
Q. I'm looking at this from the University of Northern Iowa standpoint, Missouri Valley Conference. Can you shed light how the Missouri Valley Conference outright champion and post-season tournament champion with a 17 RPI and a 28-4 record, nine road wins, 4-1 against top 50, 10-1 against top 100 gets on the 9 line, and then you see teams like Marquette with a 50 RPI gets a 6 seed, Oklahoma State, seventh place team in the Big 12 gets a 7 seed, and three teams out of the eight 10 are seeded 5, 6 and 7 who beat Old Dominion and Siena in the field and did the same thing in their mid-major conference.
DAN GUERRERO: Well, it sounds like you did a little bit of your homework there.
I would say it's because how each team looks against any of the others in the field. When you have 10 people evaluating it and coming up with that particular conclusion, I think it's because we obviously evaluated all of the teams that were under consideration and decided that's where they felt that particular should be placed.
That's not to discount the merits of a great season. I mean, when you start throwing out individual teams, there are teams that are seeded well below that that had similar type of rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©s. Once again, it's how we evaluate one team versus another. Ultimately, that's where we decided that UNI should be placed.
Q. The S-curve had them in as a 7 seed. Did you have some reasoning how they go from that, looking at the S-curve as a 7 seed, and then teams that were kind of in that S-curve, teams like Marquette, Clemson, they jumped over UNI with what they accomplished on the court? If the criteria is RPI, wins, losses against the top 50, top 100, how those teams who don't beat UNI in that criteria with a 17 RPI compared to 49s and 50s get into a 6 seed? Is there something you can tell us on how those teams jump UNI in that seeding process?
DAN GUERRERO: I'll tell you this. The S-curve really isn't public. I don't know where you're getting the 7 line on the S-curve.
But I will say that as we go through the bracketing with the principles and procedures that are in place, sometimes there's a need to shift a team from one line to another to allow the thing to work. I'm not necessarily saying that's what happened in this particular case, but it's not unusual for there to be perhaps a 1-line shift in the true seed line.
Q. The air mileage calculator says Milwaukee is much closer to Lexington, Kentucky, yet they're going to New Orleans. Can you tell me why that is?
DAN GUERRERO: Can you repeat the question?
Q. Kentucky is going for the first weekend to New Orleans, but the air mileage calculator says Milwaukee is much closer to Lexington. Why is Kentucky heading to New Orleans as opposed to Milwaukee?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, you know, the mileage isn't necessarily an absolute. We looked at all the teams that were on that 1 line and we felt it was appropriate to make the decision that we did. I mean, when you're talking about a couple of hundred miles difference or whatever the case may be, the committee may not have viewed that as a major issue.
Q. Lagging ticket sales in New Orleans or anything like that is a non-starter?
DAN GUERRERO: No, not at all.
DAVE WORLOCK: Thank you, Dan, for your time today. We appreciate your time over the last day or so answering a lot of questions from the media. It's great for our championship. We appreciate your time. We appreciate the media for being so interested.
We want to wish everyone well and hope that you enjoy the tournament which begins tomorrow night with the opening-round game from Dayton, Ohio with Arkansas Pinebluff taking on Winthrop at 7:30 eastern tomorrow night on ESPN, and the first rounds will kick off Thursday on CBS. Enjoy the tournament, everyone, and we'll talk to you soon.
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