Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jay Bilas on how to select teams for NCAA Tournament

Puzzled why mediocre teams from power conferences (I'm talking about you Vanderbilt and Syracuse) get into the NCAA men's basketball tournament while deserving teams from smaller conferences have no chance of getting in if they lose a game in their conference tournament?  

Jay Bilas, Duke alum and ESPN announcer/analyst has a plan:
  • Tournament selection committee would meet prior to the conference tournaments and rank the top 68 at-large teams. 
  • Teams that win conference tournaments receive automatic bids. If that team is not one of the 68 teams, the lowest-ranked team in the field of 68 is knocked out.
In practice this would help the best of the smaller conference teams.  Using RPI as a measure of overall team quality, they placed 28 teams in the top 68, with 40 from the power conferences.  There are about 20-25 teams that get into the conference as automatic qualifiers that would not be in the top 68 and the displaced teams would come almost equally from the big name and smaller conferences.   

Additional advantages of this approach would be (1) enhanced transparency and (2) greater emphasis on the regular season.  As a Kentucky fan who is still trying to figure out why his team could beat Texas A&M and then be seeded behind them, let's just say I am open to suggestions for improvement.    

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