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NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 11, 2012
DAVE WORLOCK: Good evening, everyone. It's been an exciting week here in Indianapolis. The Division I Men's Basketball Committee has just completed the selection, seeding and bracketing process for the 2012 championships, which will begin Tuesday night in Dayton with two games in the First Four and will continue Wednesday with the final two games of the First Four, then continues on Thursday, Friday with second‑round sites at eight cities across the nation.
Joining me this evening is Greg Shaheen, the executive vice president for championships and alliances for the NCAA. I'll turn the ball over to Greg.
GREG SHAHEEN: Good evening, everybody. Pleasure to be with you. Our goal this evening and this year has been to move the needle regarding the kinds of information that we provide. We want this call to be part of that. Earlier tonight you heard the selection show. Those of you who tuned in also may have seen hardcore brackets in which Chair Hathaway and Mike Babinski answered questions in an interview format.
The goal there is for us to begin with that show and continue to evolve it in a way that provides more insight in terms of how the week works.
The Committee met for more than 50 hours this week in session. They started today shortly before 9 a.m., and finished with the bracket just after 5:30 p.m. today, which is later than normal based on the activities of the day.
As the four championship games scheduled for today took place, or set up, if you will, braced on prior action, it became clear that today was going to be a later‑than‑normal circumstance. With that, we're prepared to answer as many questions as we can with background and detail regarding how the week came together.
DAVE WORLOCK: Thank you, Greg.
We're now happy to take questions from members of the media.
Q. My first question deals with Gonzaga and West Virginia. This is the second time in four years that this has happened to Gonzaga. I wanted to hear the rationale that West Virginia, as a 10, is an hour away in Pittsburgh, and Gonzaga as a 7, obviously has to go across the country? It happened in 2008, they played Davidson in Raleigh in the state of North Carolina.
GREG SHAHEEN: As you know, we work to protect the first four or five lines in the tournament in terms of their first game, which would be the second round in that circumstance. So a 7‑10 game doesn't apply in that situation. Certainly as the Committee went through the seed list, ultimately placed Gonzaga and West Virginia in the bracket, they also would not have looked at history, as you cited I believe, four years ago. They would look at examining the past two years' brackets to see both the travel patterns and also anything related to tournament rematches.
The Committee just isn't aware of matchups as they're putting those teams in the bracket. There's no way to look at that throughout, as you know. So as a result, that's where the matchup wound up.
Q. I was curious, with a 10 game somewhat protected there in Pittsburgh, when you stepped away and saw that, was that discussed at all? Maybe they couldn't do anything, but was it discussed as a 10, they're essentially in a home away from home market?
GREG SHAHEEN: I think as we went into that scenario, we're in a situation where, as I recall, two West Coast Conference teams were in the same vicinity, so it was the travel detail and rematches and separation conference‑wise that we had to work on, as well.
DAVE WORLOCK: The other thing is, West Virginia was one of nine Big East teams. Obviously, there are restrictions as you're trying to prevent Big East teams from playing until as late at possible within the bracket. You'll notice that Syracuse, West Virginia and Cincinnati are within the same region. We do have a situation where West Virginia could potentially play Cincinnati in a regional semifinal. That's a result of a 9 team from the Big East being selected to the field.
One of the things the Committee considered there was the fact that West Virginia and Cincinnati was a 1 play this year, and the game took place the third week of January. So that was a consideration.
As Greg alluded to, there were three teams in the West Coast Conference that had to be separated into different regions. The other factor is BYU having to play at a Thursday/Saturday site.
A lot of factors went into that decision making. As Greg alluded to, the Committee is only protecting the top five lines on the seed list, and obviously West Virginia does not fall into that category, nor does Gonzaga. That was the matchup that materialized.
Q. The game between BYU and Iona, if you can help me, historically is that the lowest number at‑large that we've had of a 14, and why they were put in a 14 line?
DAVE WORLOCK: That is the lowest number. Quite honestly, what I alluded to earlier actually affected that because of BYU having to play at a Thursday/Saturday site, the teams ended up having to drop a little bit to protect against that.
We also had to make a switch on the 7 line involving Florida and Saint Mary's there so that we could separate the West Coast Conference teams.
That rule involving BYU, as is usually the case when BYU is part of the tournament field, had an impact on the rest of the field and resulted in an Iona/BYU matchup on the 14 line.
GREG SHAHEEN: Additionally, it's important to point out, getting into the mechanics for a second, those of you who may enjoy bracketing at home, keep in mind that the layout, the geographic layout, of teams as you get into the seed list, dictates a lot of what happens.
As you look at the top 16 teams of the field, you have teams that are not west, yet we still have Portland and Albuquerque that way. What that generally means is it causes compression in the site assignments.
Again, look at the bracket and understand that you have the 4 and the 5 in each one of the regions, then you have to bring the 12 and 13 with them. So two lines in a row with only those second and third round sites.
What that means then, to your question, is that there were no sites readily available where the Committee originally had BYU for that purpose. So there had to be a move.
Q. I heard on the truTV show, you mentioned Mississippi State at one of your last six out. I was wondering how they moved throughout the weekend and what were some of the reasons not including them in the field?
GREG SHAHEEN: I think Mississippi State was in the discussion throughout quite honestly. The Committee watched both their conference tournament games, then also looked at the depth of their résumé. They were in discussions as recently as this morning.
The Committee woke up this morning with an interest in kind of making sure that the last selections were exactly where they wanted to be. And Mississippi State was still in that discussion. David cited the fact, as you did in your question, that Mississippi State was there for the taking when the final field was set.
Certainly their résumé put them right there. Just as the conference tournament games turned out, we needed every slot we could get.
DAVE WORLOCK: And Mississippi State was a difficult one for the Committee because, as they did have some quality wins, they had a great first half against Kentucky a few weeks ago, had one of the players get injured, missed the second half, missed the next game against Alabama. All of that was factored into the consideration.
At the end of the day, however, Mississippi State was just on the outside of that 37 at‑large list.
Q. I wanted to ask about Colorado State and how close to not making it they might have been.
GREG SHAHEEN: Well, I don't know that we've had the question how close a team has been to not getting in.
Colorado State, we started Wednesday afternoon with conference monitoring. I remember Colorado State being a key part of the conversation then, and then throughout the week. Again, I think they resonated with the Committee, and they ultimately got their opportunity.
DAVE WORLOCK: Colorado State is obviously on the 11 line. We wouldn't say they were comfortably in, but it does mean that the Committee gave the Rams a lot of discussion throughout the course of the weekend and ultimately their strength of schedule, non‑conference strength of schedule, were certainly positives in their favor. Plus they had three wins over UNLV, SanDiego State and New Mexico. To win over the PAC‑12 tournament champions, Colorado, the Big Sky tournament Montana, Denver team out of the Sunbelt, they had a good résumé and that's why they're part of this field.
Q. Was Jeff Hathaway allowed to participate in that decision as a former Colorado State athletic director or how does that work?
DAVE WORLOCK: That's a great question. He was. Only current affiliation determines. He was in the room for Colorado State. He was out of the room when there were nine Big East teams in the field and other teams in consideration. Jeff got his workout walking in and out of room throughout the weekend.
For Colorado State he would be allowed, as would all Committee members, with prior conferences and universities, allowed to stay in the room for discussions on those teams.
Q. How much discussion went into the injuries? You had injuries at North Carolina, a key guy at Indiana that went down. Talked about Mississippi State. How much did you talk about the injuries particularly this week and what effect that would have?
GREG SHAHEEN: Committee always looks at injuries. We need the most accurate information possible, both throughout the season, then as they prepare for selection weekend as they watch the conference tournaments.
Mindful of when a season‑ending ACL injury comes up, all the way to a slight sprain that may make a student‑athlete day‑to‑day. The goal is to try to get the updated information so the Committee can assess the player's ability overall.
DAVE WORLOCK: I think it's a combination of there probably were a greater number of injuries, it seems like especially late in the year. North Carolina had an injury, Indiana an injury, Michigan State a significant injury recently. But also throughout the season. Drexel and South Florida were teams considered heavily for this championship. There were player‑availability issues those teams back in the fall semester. It's always a topic.
I think the conference monitoring program that has been in place for a number of years now by the Committee really helps the Committee in terms of getting the most accurate information. When there is an injury, the Memphis player comes to mind, when there is an injury. In that case we're communicating with Conference USA, we're communicating with the ACC, trying to get the most accurate information.
Sometimes it's possible; sometimes it's not. Sometimes injuries happen soon enough where you can gauge how a team will perform despite an injury. Michigan State is a great example of that. They were able to win the Big Ten tournament championship despite losing a player recently.
There are other examples in the past, Kenyon Martin is the off‑sited example. Awaku a couple years ago, where you have an injury takes place in the conference tournament and you just don't know what to expect, what the extent of the injury is, and if the student‑athlete is going to return to the team, how effective he's going to be, and if he's not going to return to the team, how does that impact the team's performance. The Committee is certainly confident they're getting the best information in a timely manner best to the membership.
Q. How many calls were made to the ACC this weekend about what happened down at North Carolina?
DAVE WORLOCK: With the ACC, there were actually news releases going out. I know today, in fact, the Associated Press was running a story about Henson's availability based upon an emergency only. Obviously he did not play. North Carolina still ended up on the 1 seed. That was a reflection of their great season and the information that the Committee has leads to indicate that Henson will be available for North Carolina when they open up play in Greensboro.
Q. Jeff, what was the determining factor that eliminated Washington from the field?
GREG SHAHEEN: It's Greg Shaheen and Dave Worlock.
Ultimately when the Committee looked in terms of lack of top‑50 wins really is where it started. Overall the Committee had Washington on the board, had a lot of discussions. I think the scenario in the conference tournament obviously didn't help with the game against Oregon State. But the difficulty of the schedule, the top 50 without wins, really kind of set the tone for Washington.
DAVE WORLOCK: Like we mentioned, Washington was certainly one of the teams that was in the discussion to the very end. As Greg alluded to, the lack of top‑50 wins offset some of the positive things they had. Certainly winning the regular‑season championship of the PAC‑12 was a positive. Sweeping Arizona, beating Stanford and Oregon were positives.
But I think the lack of quality wins towards the top of the RPI and the fact that their best non‑conference win was out of the top 100 was probably detrimental to Washington's at‑large chances. But they certainly were reviewed thoroughly by the Committee.
Q. Which team or seed was the most heated, not in a tense way, but maybe most intense conversation the last couple of days?
GREG SHAHEEN: That's easy. I'll take that. I think their vetting of the top two lines, the top eight true seeds, quite honestly conversation throughout, then the different scenarios as they played out with conference tournaments, then exactly what to do.
Those of us who don't have votes but have the honor of watching and observing their discussion are always fascinated as they get to the final decisions, especially as they're scrubbing with more and more conference tournament results exactly what to do.
The end of the 1 line, and I'd say the 5 true seed lines from 4 through 8 I think easily took the overwhelming majority of time as it relates to the week. I would say they spent hours on that. If I had to guess, I would guess they spent five or six hours on those slots alone.
DAVE WORLOCK: There was a certain consensus to 1 and 2 from the beginning of the week when the Committee got in Wednesday. They felt Kentucky was the No.1 seed and Syracuse was the No. 2 seed. Certainly when those two teams opened up conference tournament play with victories, I think the Committee had decided those teams were 1, 2. After that, 3 through 8 was pretty complicated for the Committee.
You have eight quality teams. You look at a team like Missouri, how talented it is, the fact they've won the Big 12 tournament, they're on the 8 line, probably represents more their non‑conference strength of schedule being lower than the Committee would like.
With North Carolina, they beat Michigan State, Duke beat Michigan State, but Michigan State beat Kansas. The non‑conference strength of schedules go along with those head‑to‑heads and do factor in which teams won at least a share of their regular‑season titles along with conference tournaments made it a difficult challenge for the Committee to get those in the appropriate order.
It's eight outstanding teams. Those aren't the only eight outstanding teams, but certainly those eight solidified themselves for those top two lines during the entire season, not just this week.
Q. Once Bonaventure won today. Are you at liberty to say which team fell out of the field?
GREG SHAHEEN: The Committee actually spent so much time this morning on the last position that they pooled the teams awaiting that eventuality. They held that list. So the list that's been described are the teams, and they were going to rank if that opening came.
Q. Rank them at what?
GREG SHAHEEN: They were going to rank them as the opening arose.
DAVE WORLOCK: It's part of the reason why it was a late afternoon, was because those games started at 1 p.m. eastern. All four games played today were relevant in the sense of the seeding, especially in the Atlantic‑10 Conference championship in terms of selection.
Q. I mean, if the 37 were selected, which is normal, somebody has to top in and somebody has to top out. Which team was that?
GREG SHAHEEN: Actually, that's not the case at this point. What we knew yesterday was that we needed at least three today. So the Committee debated that and then held the remainder for what would be a rank vote depending the outcome of the Atlantic‑10 game.
Q. Who was in that ranked vote?
DAVE WORLOCK: Let's see. It was Iona, Drexel, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, Nevada, and South Florida.
Q. So that's six teams, top two obviously went?
GREG SHAHEEN: What we did was we had these remaining teams. The Committee basically opted, depending on the outcome, if Xavier won, then we obviously would have an opening.
DAVE WORLOCK: Drexel was certainly part of that discussion as well.
GREG SHAHEEN: Just to tweak the answer a bit, it's Miami of Florida, not South Florida.
DAVE WORLOCK: Miami of Florida, right.
Q. So of that list, only Iona got in?
DAVE WORLOCK: Of that list.
GREG SHAHEEN: Iona wasn't on that list. Iona was in the field at that point.
DAVE WORLOCK: That just illustrates the point of all the teams that were being discussed as recently as this afternoon, a wide range of teams, some of which ended up in the field. Obviously the last four teams are the four teams playing in Dayton.
GREG SHAHEEN: Let me do a reset.
Drexel, Miami of Florida, Oral Roberts, Seton Hall, Mississippi State and Nevada.
Q. Those six teams were discussed?
GREG SHAHEEN: They were discussed but a vote was not taken because of the outcome of the A‑10 game.
DAVE WORLOCK: But one of them would have been in the field had Xavier won the A‑10 championship today. That was not very clear on my part, sorry.
Q. Bonaventure took a spot from that group?
DAVE WORLOCK: That's correct.
Thanks, everyone, for your time tonight. We will send out a bracket later this evening with game times and networks. We'll send out the seed list along with that. Enjoy the tournament and we'll see you on the road.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports