Vol. 47, No. 3 • March 2010 • .pdf version
• Steve Carp: USBWA led to more than imagined
• Joe Mitch: Breakfasts to be a Final Four highlight
• John Bohnenkamp: A head-spinning two days
• John Akers: Got a beef? Calm down and make the call
• Byers, Myslenski, Withers enter USBWA's Hall of Fame
• NIT's Chris Fallon wins prestigious Katha Quinn Award
• Putting on a 'Full Court Press'


Mock brackets present an informative, head-spinning two days

By JOHN BOHNENKAMP / Burlington Hawk-Eye
USBWA Member

INDIANAPOLIS – I tried listening to the radio on the way home, but the numbers and names were swirling through my head.

Road record. Top 50 wins. RPI. Record vs. tournament teams. I couldn't listen to any music on or any sports talk. My head was hurting and there was still too much to process after the United States Basketball Writers Association mock selection seminar with the NCAA.

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The 10 two-person teams – each team representing a member of the NCAA Division I men's basketball selection committee – put together a 65-team bracket in about 12 hours' worth of work. That's considerably less time than what the committee gets on selection week in March, so we crammed in a lot of information, debate and voting in a short amount of time.

Which was why my head was still overloaded with information as I headed west on Interstate 74 for my drive home.

I'm not sure I can tell you Illinois' strength of schedule at the moment, or Northern Iowa's record against the top 25 teams in the RPI, but I know I saw it at some point during the process. It should come spilling out at some point.

During my weekly work on The Associated Press poll, it's been tough in the last few weeks to fill in those last three or four spots, because every team I looked at had some sort of bad mark that had me thinking this school or that school shouldn't be in the Top 25. So I had a good idea that what we would go through in the NCAA conference room would be about 20 times worse.

I was wrong. It was 50 times more complicated.

Once we filled in the first 31 teams as at-large selections, coming up with the final few to fill open spots was extremely difficult. You would look at a team's RPI (California, 25) and think that team was worthy. Then you'd look at the teams played, and where the wins and losses came, and suddenly that team was no longer attractive.

You would look at a team's overall record (Virginia Tech, 19-4) and think that it was worthy of consideration, and then you would look at the strength of the non-conference schedule (dead last among all Division I teams) and you moved on to someone else.

What we did in one long afternoon and evening, followed by a long morning and early afternoon, was scan resumιs, vote, rank, scan resumιs, vote, rank, and on and on. It was called Groundhog Day, after the Bill Murray movie where the same day keeps repeating. This was a little different – unlike the movie, this was fun.

We "peeled the onion," (another term used), slicing away at teams before putting together a bracket in a short amount of time. It wasn't perfect – when you listen to everyone complain in March, it never is – but it was our bracket.

I left with plenty of information jammed into my head, and the overload swirled the entire 4 1/2-hour drive home. I gained an appreciation for the process and realized all of the myths and speculation were just that. I t was a great experience.

Oh, UNI's record against the top 50 was 2-1, and Illinois' strength of schedule ranked 83rd. I knew it was in there somewhere.

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