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March 11, 2018

Bruce Rasmussen

Indianapolis, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone, and thank you for your patience tonight. We appreciate you joining the call with Bruce Rasmussen, the director of athletics at Creighton University and chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee. We'll jump right into questions.

Q. I'm wondering what your discussion in the room was like about Louisville. I know they weren't in the first four out. I wondered where they ended up in your pecking order and what was it that cost them the bid?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: First of all, Louisville has a very good team. They weren't in the first four out but they certainly were discussed a great deal by the committee, along with about 15 other teams. And we knew there were only a very few spots available. In reality, we looked at who did you play, where did you play them, how did you do?

Louisville had the majority of their wins against teams in the third and fourth quadrants. They had five wins against teams in the first two quadrants. They had a lot of opportunities.

So we just didn't feel like with the opportunities they had -- they had 13 opportunities in quadrant one, they had three wins. They had two wins in quadrant two. And we just didn't -- Louisville is a very good team -- we just didn't think there was enough there to put them in ahead of teams that made it.

Q. On the last call I know you said that the committee would not be discussing the extracurricular stuff, the stuff that was implicated in the federal complaints from last year. Can you tell us now that the press has actually played out, that that stuff indeed didn't come up? And relatedly, I guess, you know there were three teams all on the bubble, none of which made it. Can you tell us that that had nothing to do with it?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: It had absolutely nothing to do with it. There was no discussion at all in the committee about that. That's outside of our purview.

Q. I'm just wondering, Middle Tennessee and Vermont had excellent conference records. Vermont dominated its conference. And Syracuse, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona State all finished below .500 in their respective conferences. Is there any thought about requiring teams to at least finish .500 in their league in order to be eligible for a tournament? Would that be an easily quantifiable point the committee could use and the teams would understand?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Well, it's been discussed in the past. But as conferences have gotten larger, as there's been more uneven scheduling, it's something that has not generated enough interest to be a policy at this point.

Q. I had a technical question about how some of the teams ended up at specific sites. I know you've got Cincinnati and Xavier in Nashville, which if I'm not mistaken is technically their second closest site -- I know they're a little bit closer to Detroit. Could you say if there was a rationale behind that and if getting Michigan State to play in Detroit played any role in that at all?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: We had a discussion as a committee and those sites were very close to each other. And really pretty much the same distance from each other. Maybe just a few miles. And so we went by the seeding principles where the better seeded team on each line got the geographic preference. And that's the way it worked out.

Q. With regards to Arizona, being as they were a No. 4, I was wondering, was there consideration putting them in San Diego and why did it become Boise? And secondarily I was wondering if any of the injuries, and they had a key player injured and another key player suspended for a couple of games, if those factored in at all?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: We discussed player availability concerning every team. And unfortunately this year I think for a lot of teams there were a lot of players that were not available. So we take the resumé as it appears.

Arizona was the fourth No. 4 seed and so they had to go where the slot was left. And that's why they ended up where they ended up.

Q. I was curious on the overall seeding list, Michigan State ended up 9, Michigan 11. Wondering how close they really were to each other. And just back again on the Detroit thing, were Xavier and Cincinnati actually closer to Nashville? I know they were pretty close. We're just trying to get some clarification on how teams ended up in Detroit, I guess.
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Again, as I said before the difference -- the difference in distance between those two sites is very small. And Cincinnati feels a lot of ways more like Indiana. But the reality is that we took the teams in the order that they were bracketed, and we tried to put them in what seemed to be the closest geographic area. And there might have been a few miles difference but not very much.

Q. Can you go over where USC was in terms of their profile and what (indiscernible) in terms of getting the bid?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Southern Cal had a nice year. When you look at their resumé, they only had two wins against teams in the tournament field. One was New Mexico State, which was 48th overall on the seed list, and the other was Cal State Fullerton.

So when you look at Southern Cal's resumé, they had a lot of wins, when we are trying to determine who should be in the tournament we had a lot of teams that were in that area. Southern Cal had a lot of discussion. They had a lot of intense discussion.

But we look at how teams did against tournament-caliber teams, either teams in the tournament or teams we feel are tournament-caliber teams. And they had two wins against teams in the field. One was New Mexico State. One was Cal State Fullerton.

They also had eight opportunities against tournament teams with three of those at home and those are the only two wins that they had.

Q. I know Oklahoma State's selling point was they had eight wins against, I think, the top 40 teams in your field. What did you feel was missing from their resumé when you evaluated them?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Again, Oklahoma State was really close to getting in. I know that doesn't make people feel any better. They had a very good year. But as we looked at the resumés of teams, Oklahoma State had 17 opportunities against teams that we look at in Quadrant 1. They won five of those.

We also felt that in looking at games outside the conference, they had a lot of wins but they had a lot of games against teams that really were in the bottom 100 in the RPI.

And I think a couple of things that we continued to talk about in the committee: Who did you play? Where did you play them? And how did you do? And I think a message that a lot of people are seeing is that we like to see teams that schedule, especially in the non-conference, that schedule games, that allow the committee to take a look at whether or not they're worthy of consideration of the tournament, even if they don't win their conference.

We just didn't feel like Oklahoma State had quite the schedule that we would have liked to have seen when you compared them to other teams that were really in that same conversation.

Q. In general, what got Syracuse into the field, I guess, with the last bid, the at-large bid? And specifically Syracuse versus Notre Dame, when Notre Dame beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, how did the committee square that head-to-head matchup with putting Syracuse in and leaving Notre Dame out?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: That was one game of 33 that Syracuse played. And I would imagine Notre Dame, they had 34 games. So it was one game out of 34. And when you look at Syracuse's overall resumé, and we talk about how did you do against tournament-caliber teams, how did you schedule with your non-conference schedule, Syracuse had four wins in the first quadrant and wins against Clemson, wins against Buffalo who is in the tournament, at Miami, at Louisville. And when you look at the back end of their schedule, they really didn't have any games against teams in the bottom 100 of the RPI.

And so Syracuse's resumé, when compared to Notre Dame's, and Notre Dame obviously had a unique situation where they had Bonzie Colson in and out of the lineup, but we had a chance to see Notre Dame's resumé and how they did with Bonzie, how they did without him.

And they had a couple of losses at home against Ball State, and they had a neutral site loss against Indiana that were tough losses. And those occurred with Bonzie Colson healthy.

Q. I'm wondering, with Rhode Island playing this afternoon, their loss, did it shift them very much? And was Davidson always slotted into the spot where they ended up?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Rhode Island might have dropped one spot because of the loss. I'd have to go back and look at my notes. I can't remember what we did.

I know we had two different brackets. One with Rhode Island winning, one with Davidson winning. And I think that the loss that Rhode Island had might have cost them one spot.

The Davidson win knocked Notre Dame out of the tournament and they took that spot.

Q. I'm also curious how you squared the middle of the Big East after obviously Villanova and Xavier. They were all bunched pretty tightly on your seed list.
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: And you're right. There were a number of teams in the Big East that were really in that 8, 9 area seed line. And it creates some issues when it comes to bracketing, because they can't -- obviously we had two No. 1 seeds, so they can't play against the No. 1s. So we had to drop Butler down a line. We had Providence that we had to drop a line, and it allowed us to be able to bracket and not have the Big East teams play against each other in the second round.

Q. Just wondered if you would discuss the ultimate factors that resulted in Oklahoma getting in, and if you kind of view OU as kind of the ultimate example of November and December counting as much as February?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Thank you for the question. And you're accurate. Every game on the schedule counts the same as far as the committee's concerned. Oklahoma had some great wins early. They had six Quadrant 1 wins, all in the top 35 RPI, and while they didn't play well down the stretch, and it did cost them in seeding, there was enough on the resumé to put them into the tournament.

Q. Going back to Davidson/Rhode Island, Rhode Island was in whether they won the conference tournament or not. Did Davidson have to win the conference tournament to get in?
BRUCE RASMUSSEN: That is correct accurate, yes.


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