The NCAA just concluded its annual mock basketball selections Friday in Indianapolis, and while there’s nothing definitive or predictive about what a group of journalists did, it’s at least a fairly educated look at how the basketball committee might be judging things as we sit 30 days from Selection Sunday.
To back up, for the past seven or eight years, the NCAA has invited a collection of some 12-20 journalists for this event, which takes place over two days at an Indy hotel. It’s designed to give them a feel for what the committee actually goes through over five days in March, and the scribes then write about the experience, with the idea of bringing to readers some of the issues that must be understood in generating a fair bracket.
You can check out the “committee’s” work here.
Most of what they did relates to reality, with a twist or two. As usual, the writers were told they had to accommodate a surprise conference winner — in this case, Illinois — into the field, which, of course, swells the Big Ten qualifiers by one. (It’s pretty unrealistic to think Illinois or anybody else but a likely NCAA team is going to win the Big Ten tournament, but it’s done for sake of the argument. Besides, if it doesn’t happen in that league, it probably will happen somewhere else.)
The group seeded the teams in order, and two things caught my eye: Teams seeded Nos. 35-39 include four from the Pac-12, and in fact, you can pretty much throw a blanket over them — Cal, Arizona State, Stanford and Colorado. That means those four would be judged in the 9-10 seed range.
Gonzaga, meanwhile, was seeded only No. 33, which would equate to the first No. 9 seed in the bracket. And indeed, that’s where the Zags landed in the bracket formulated, playing No. 8 Xavier in San Diego, that winner figuring to play No. 1 Arizona. It’s certainly not a preferred position for the Zags, whose fans would no doubt prefer that they get off the 8-9 lines. They have road games at BYU and St. Mary’s remaining, plus the WCC tournament, so they have ample opportunity to do that — in one direction or another.
A No. 33 seed overall is an unflattering position for Gonzaga, which is ranked No. 21 in the RPI computer this week. But GU’s resume is not as strong as it has usually been.
There are six Pac-12 teams in the mock field, with Arizona ranked as the overall No. 2 seed behind Syracuse, and UCLA No. 22.