Bracketology Trip: NCAA Mock Selection Committee: Part One

February 15th, 2012

In a few minutes I'll be heading out towards the airport to catch a flight to Indianapolis (via a changeover in Philadelphia unfortunately). There, I'll be meeting with members of the media (paper, tv, internet) for the NCAA's yearly Mock Selection Committee. The NCAA started this conference in 2007 to give members of the media a closer look at the selection process, so that they'd have a better understanding of how it works (and thus erase what ever misconceptions existed.)


As someone who spends a lot of time projecting the NCAA Tournament field (in my weekly Bracketology projections), I have a ton of questions. I've also received interesting reader questions on Twitter (@collegehoopsnet) that I'm going to try and answer. These include questions about individual teams (what would the committee do if Murray St lost the OVC tournament, how will the committee treat struggling Big East teams like UCONN and Seton Hall) and questions about the process (can 2 teams from the same conference play in the play-in game, does the committee really not pay attention to the last 10-12 games).


For whatever reason, I've had a knack at nailing the tournament fields better than the major media players (Joe Lunardi, etc.) I wonder if being part of the Mock process might actually make my projections worse. My normal seeding process is quite simple really: rank the teams in the order that seems right based on the RPI, human polls, and intuition.. and then adjust for the committee's historical biases. My guess is that part of the process will aim to show that the committee is not biased towards power-conference teams over mid-majors. I hope this doesn't fool me into changing my picks come March.


Over the last 6 years, the 5 highest RPI teams not to make the NCAA Tournament were from mid-majors. I wrote an article on this last year (called A Brief History of Mid-Major Bias) and tend to update it in a few weeks. This is more than a statistical coincidence. There is something about the selection process that (either wittingly or unwittingly) is predisposed towards favoring power conference teams. I hope to learn more about why this is.


I'll be checking back throughout the next few days with more thoughts on the trip and answers to reader questions. If you have a question about the NCAA Selection Process, drop a note @collegehoopsnet.