Each an every year, the actual process of seeding and bracketing the Big Dance comes under some form of scrutiny. The reason is that the Selection Committee is reluctant to explain themselves past the obvious. This year, all that Chairman Scott Barnes (Utah State Athletic Director) would agree to reveal was that undefeated Kentucky was the unanimous overall #1 Seed.
When questioned about which “bubble team” was included or excluded, and why, he provided more circumlocution than a youngster caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar.
To be faire, this year’s Field of 64 (68 if you include the play-in games) gave media types only a few glaring questions. The more overt questions were when and where teams were bracketed. It was surely obvious that the committee only considered the various fan bases in the preliminary games.
Of course, part of any criticism about Regional venues has to be assigned to the NCAA, who has made no bones about wanting only the largest arenas. For instance, Duke and Gonzaga – the #1 and #2 Seeds respectively – would each halve the country to Houston for their South Regional contests. Few fans have the ability to travel that distance and incur the expense of doing so. That violates the spirit of the event and college basketball itself !!!
The annual question about the Selection Committee is about it’s composition. This year, 9 members are Athletic Directors, and the tenth member is Judy MacLeod, Conference USA Associate Commissioner. The overwhelming question is:
- What do any of these people know about playing and/or coaching college basketball ??? These people are administrators over a wide palette of sports.
- How much quality time can these people dedicate to watching and understanding the yearly changing nuances of college basketball without ethically being distracted from their REAL jobs ???
The answers to both questions is a resounding ZERO !!!
This year, the Selection Committee had a very obvious agenda. They made a ethical judgement on Bill Self refusing to schedule Wichita State. They purposely put Xavier in their former coach’s region, practically assuring a match up with Arizona. They set up a meeting between West Virginia and Kentucky and, of course they say their prayers every hour for Kentucky to meet Duke in recollection of another version of the greatest college basketball game of all time.
These are not what the Big Dance was originally envisioned. The idea was to have match-ups of teams who would not usually meet. The idea was to do so to prove who was the best yearly team.
When one considers the plethora of former and retired coaches in college basketball, the REAL question has to be asked:
Why are there not more “Basketball People” on the Selection Committee ???
“Basketball People” understand what Athletic Directors and Conference Commissioners can’t because of the relative focuses of their jobs. So, please consider this:
- “Basketball People” understand recruiting, the management of their players, and not only getting the best of them, but also getting them to play their respective roles effectively. This can change form opponent to opponent.
- “Basketball People” understand the important challenges and differences of pre-conference season vs. conference season vs. conference tournaments as they each contribute to readiness for a positive Big Dance performance.
- “Basketball People” understand the differences of the traditional questions like “Who did you play ???” or “Who did you beat ???” or “Who did you lose to and why ???” For instance, some teams mature to the point that they are nothing like who they were in the pre-season. The best example this year is the increased prowess of teams like Michigan State and Arizona.
- “Basketball People” understand the nuances of the game, and don’t care about creating potential match-ups simply to make“Good TV”
The point is that with all the great, retired basketball people available to comprise at least half of the Selection Committee, they need to change who sits on it and include them.
If you’re constantly changing the criteria for college basketball coaches, then, you need to have the only people who understand their pressures – former coaches.
This fraternity of retired coaches can relate to each and every dribble, each and every twist or turn of competition. This includes the“hatching” of an infantine team in the non-conference season to their“coming into their own” for conference competition. They all understand winning, and what it takes to deserve to make it to and succeed in the Big Dance !!!
The “Big Dance” is, without a doubt, the BEST annual sporting event in America.
Why, then, should it not be run by the absolute BEST people in college basketball ??? Those BEST people are “Basketball People” !!!
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