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March 7, 2018

Bruce Rasmussen

Indianapolis, Indiana

DAVE WORLOCK: Hello, everyone. Welcome to today's teleconference with Bruce Rasmussen, the director of athletics at Creighton University and the chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee.

The 2018 March Madness Selection Show will be on TBS for the first time ever. The two-hour broadcast will air at 6 p.m. eastern on Sunday.

Ahead of the show, Turner Sports and CBS Sports will produce a special four-hour social media preshow running exclusively on official NCAA March Madness handles across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook along with NCAA.com and Bleacher Report beginning at 2 p.m. eastern on Sunday.

Finally I'd like to remind everyone that Mr. Rasmussen will conduct another media teleconference at 9 p.m. eastern on Sunday after the bracket has been announced.

With that, I'll now turn it over to Bruce for his opening remarks.

BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Thank you, David.

Good afternoon, everyone. I'm speaking with you today from the Marriott Marquis on Times Square in snowy New York City, where for the third consecutive year the Men's Basketball Committee is conducting its selection meeting.

In fact, this teleconference is the only thing standing between us and the meeting getting underway, but I'll gladly answer any questions you might have as my colleagues and I get ready to spend the next handful of days selecting, seeding and bracketing a 68-team field.

As you know, Murray State, Radford, Loyola Chicago, Lipscomb, Michigan, Iona, North Carolina Greensboro, College of Charleston, Wright State, LIU Brooklyn, Gonzaga and South Dakota State are the first dozen teams into the field, as all have won the automatic qualifiers for their respective leagues. Congratulations to the coaches, players, administrators and fans of those 12 teams.

Soon after this teleconference concludes, all 10 of us on the committee will cast our initial ballot which will frame much of the discussion for the week. For those of you who don't know, any team receiving all but two eligible votes as an at-large team will be in the field. Most teams require eight votes to be voted in, however, because committee members can't vote for their own schools, those teams only require seven of a possible nine votes to make the field. Typically we have anywhere between 20 and 25 schools voted into the field after that initial ballot.

Any team receiving at least three votes, either as an at-large or under consideration team, qualifies to be on the under consideration board. Regular-season champions who do not get enough votes to qualify for either of those boards are added to the under consideration list.

So, for example, Florida Gulf Coast will be under consideration regardless of the outcome of the initial ballot.

A typical year sees roughly 40 to 45 teams voted to the under consideration board. From there, we will go back and forth selecting and seeding teams through Saturday night and possibly into Sunday morning before starting the bracketing process as soon as we can on Sunday.

I mentioned in my interview on CBS on Sunday that we get the bracket finished in about an hour once we have selected the 68 teams. While that's true, I should also add that we always have to build contingency brackets based on possible outcomes or a combination of possible outcomes of Sunday's five conference championship games. A couple of years ago, we had 12 brackets based on those scenarios.

So while we don't start bracketing until Sunday morning, it's still a very detailed process done with these goals in mind:

First, we need to follow the bracketing principles pertaining to geography as we strive to get as many teams as we can to the closest site available.

Second, we take into consideration conference affiliation as we try avoiding matchups of teams from within the same league.

This is probably as good a time as any to remind everyone that the principles and procedures for selecting, seeding and bracketing is a public document that is available on NCAA.com.

With that, I'll gladly open up the call for any questions that you might have.

Q. I cover Kentucky. One of their key contributors, Jarred Vanderbilt, sustained an injury in practice yesterday. His status is day-to-day. We don't know what his status is at this point. How does the committee factor in a key injury to a key player?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: That's a great question. Player and coach availability is taken into consideration by the committee in the season-long team evaluation process. Every availability situation is unique and considered as such in evaluating a team roster for March.

It's important to stress that the results of all Division I games on a team's schedule are considered by the committee in team evaluations, and that no team's results are dismissed.

Q. What importance are conference tournaments, the results, when you're trying to do the evaluation of the whole body of work?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Again, as you just mentioned, we evaluate the whole body of work. All games have the same emphasis. However, when you're playing in a conference tournament, you have an opportunity to possibly play teams that are high RPI teams, and therefore you have an opportunity to maybe get another quality win or two, which could impact your seeding and selection.

Q. This is an odd year. We have a federal investigation hanging over this tournament. Several teams have been implicated in it. They're not automatic shoo-ins. What have you discussed about that with the committee?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: The committee will not discuss that at all. It's the purview of a different committee than us. We'll make decisions based on the performance of the team over the entire year.

Q. This is going to be a different tournament. You have to believe it's going to be part of the broadcast and the newscast as we go. What are your thoughts on that?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Our committee is intensely focused on selecting and seeding and bracketing the right 68 teams. We're not going to pay any attention to that because it's not in the purview of our committee.

Q. As an AD, somebody deeply involved in NCAA basketball, is this a hit you want to take?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: First of all, there are issues with men's basketball at this time. It's not perfect. It never has been perfect. It never will be perfect. But there are a lot of great things that are happening with Division I men's basketball. I would prefer to focus on those.

Q. I'm not sure how much you want to get into specific teams, but Virginia Tech played a rather uninspiring non-conference schedule, and then in the conference won at Virginia, beat Duke, beat UNC, beat Clemson. Is this enough for them to be in or would they be considered a so-called bubble team?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: I think it would be inappropriate for me at this time to comment on Virginia Tech. They've got games left to play.

We haven't had discussions on specific teams. They certainly have good wins. They certainly have played a good schedule, which the ACC demands. But it would not be appropriate for me at this point to comment on Virginia Tech's position.

Q. I'll reverse the question that was asked about the Kentucky injury. How do you factor in Notre Dame? They played for a good while without Bonzie Colson. He's back now. What impact does his return have on the discussion? Do they need to do some things in the ACC tournament to keep impressing the committee?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: There are many teams that have had injuries and players that are either not going to be available or players that are available that haven't been for a while.

Clearly the Bonzie Colson situation is unique from my five years on the committee. It will be a discussion item. Notre Dame has an opportunity, they still have games yet to play. We have seen Notre Dame with Bonzie Colson, we've seen them without. It certainly will be a discussion item.

Again, Notre Dame has an opportunity in the tournament to get some more quality wins.

Q. I want to take one more crack at the Kentucky injury situation, only in the sense of they could be one team with this player and a different team without him, a much better team with him. How does the committee square that circle?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Again, it will be a discussion. We don't try to project how a team will do with or without a player. We try to look at what they've done over the entire year and make a decision based upon that.

Q. I know the NCAA has moved away over the past decade from including the last 10 or 12 games as an explicit criteria. Do you think it should matter at all to the committee how a team finishes down the stretch and how it looks like it's playing heading into the NCAA tournament?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Certainly, again, we use the phrase 'full body of work'. We look at every game as being as important as any of the others.

However, I think it's human nature that committee members will look at how a team is doing here coming down the stretch. It may have an impact on seeding. I think every committee member looks at it a little bit differently.

You look at the availability of players, you look at the quality of the competition. I don't think you can just look at a one loss record. You have to look at specifics.

DAVE WORLOCK: We appreciate everyone's time today. We will talk to you Sunday night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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