Dog ate your car keys. Foot caught in bear trap. Get an excuse ready, because it's time to play hooky. The NCAA tournament, better known as March Madness, is nearly upon us. While millions of hoops fans will fill out brackets and hope for the best, the group that decides which teams go to the Big Dance (and who they'll play) is very exclusive indeed.
Ten members make up the NCAA Selection Committee, each serving a term of five years. The group changes yearly, with anywhere from one to three members rotating out. The committee is balanced geographically, with no fewer than two members representing the East, Midwest, South and West regions at any one time."
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According to Jim Kleinpeter of the Times-Picayune, the current members are LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes, Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe, Xavier University Athletic Director Mike Bobinski, Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton, University of Connecticut Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway, Texas-San Antonio Athletic Director Lynn Hickey, SMU Athletic Director Steve Orsini, Wake Forest Athletic Director Ron Wellman, and West Coast Conference Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich.
But, really, it's not as though the committee has to invite all 68 teams from scratch. Thirty-one of the invitations are automatic, thanks to a team's conference prowess. That means it's up to Hathaway and company to fill the 37 at-large berths. That's where things can get a little crazy.
The methods the committee uses to pick the teams are a complex mix of art and science. A team's RPI (rating percentage index, which is a lot like strength of schedule), margins of victory and how it did in head-to-head matchups are all taken into account.
The NCAA doesn't go out of its way to publicize the names of the committee members. And that's probably a good thing. Fans of teams who get snubbed (and every year, there are at least a couple) aren't known for being understanding.
And, by the way, with so many people filling out brackets, you may be wondering how many brackets a person would have to fill out in order to take every possibility into account. With 67 games in the tournament, you take two and multiply it by itself 67 times. The answer: 147,573,952,589,676,412,928 brackets. Even if everybody on earth filled out a bracket, the chances that somebody (anybody!) would do it perfectly are still microscopic. So, yeah, good luck.
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