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NCAA Mock Tournament Madness

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For the second straight year, the NCAA has invited members of the media to participate in a mock NCAA Tournament selection at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis. Twenty sports writers spent all day yesterday going through the same routine that the NCAA Tournament selection committee will go through just about one month from now.

The first day of the event was live-blogged yesterday on "Double-A-Zone," the NCAA's "official blog." While I'm sure there are at least a handful of major differences between what took place yesterday and what will take place five weeks from now, I found the coverage from the first day fairly interesting and enjoyable despite some initial skepticism.

4:25 p.m. The committee just put up what they call the "rank eight." The teams will be ordered from 1-8 and the top four move over to join the 18 already on the "at-large list." The eight teams are:

Gonzaga
Kansas State
Louisville
Marquette
Mississippi
Notre Dame
Purdue
Texas A&M

4:27 p.m. The point was just raised that Louisville beat Marquette twice. Folks around the room are sharing thoughts about the teams on the board and are having some put up side-by-side to compare strength of schedule, record against common opponents, wins versus the top 50, RPI, etc.

4:43 p.m. The top four teams determined from the "rank eight" list were:

Kansas State
Louisville
Mississippi
Texas A&M

These four have moved from the "consideration list" to the "at-large list." The other four are holding.

9:07 p.m. The next group of eight has been selected as the committee looks at the No. 5 seeds:

Drake
Indiana
Kansas State
Louisville
Southern California
St. Mary's (California)
Texas A&M
Washington

9:10 p.m. Here are your No. 5 seeds:

Kansas State
Washington State
Louisville
Drake

Today, a group of 20 television broadcasters (and Joe Lunardi) have been assembled to go through the same process, and the events are being live-blogged once again.

10:50 a.m. Just like yesterday, teams of two will represent one committee member. Here's today's roster:
  • Steve Scheer (CBS)/Andy Katz (ESPN.com) - Tom O'Connor, committee chair
  • Tom Brennan (ESPN)/Adrian Branch (ESPN) - Chris Hill
  • Greg Johnson (NCAA Champion Magazine)/Doug Gottleib (ESPN) - Lynn Hickey
  • Jerry Palm (NCAA.com)/David Scott (NCAA.com) - Jeffrey Hathaway
  • Mark Adams (ESPN)/Ilan Ben-Hanan (ESPN) - Dan Guerrero
  • Steve Lappas (CSTV)/Pete Gillen (CSTV) - Gene Smith
  • Chuck Gerber (ESPN)/Mike Kelley (ESPN) - Laing Kennedy
  • Clark Kellogg (CBS)/Joe Lunardi (ESPN) - Mike Slive
  • Anthony Calhoun (WISH-TV)/Burke Magnus (ESPN) - Jon LeCrone
  • Lowell Galindo (ESPN)/Mike Freer (ESPN) - Stanley Morrison
12:50 p.m. Syracuse and West Virginia were the only two teams unanimously placed under consideration. Neither made yesterday's bracket, so this is an interesting turn of events.

There are 69 teams under consideration - 60 if you subtract those regular-season conference champions generated by the NCAA staff. Yesterday we had 58 teams on the consideration list, or 49 without the regular-season winners.

What!?!? Gottlieb (I love that they misspelled his name) is there and Syracuse was still a unanimous choice for at-large consideration?

I bet Clark Kellogg is like that kid in seventh grade whose classmates would cruelly goad him into sharing his homework answers because they were always so absurd. I can just see Adrian Branch and Tom Brennan confronting him now.

"So how's your at-large consideration list coming Clark?"

"Not bad, you guys?"

"Good. Good. Say though, we're having a little trouble coming up with one last team. Who do you have on your list that we should consider?"

"I don't really know. There are a lot of other guys here who probly have better lists than I do."

"Clark. C'mon. You know you're the best analyst here. We know you're the best analyst here. Just give us a break and throw us a couple of teams."

"Well, all right...Air Force?"

(Muffled laughter)

"Oh yeah. God how did we forget about the Falcons? That win at TCU was huge. Another one?"

"Um, Missouri just beat Kansas State."

(Brennan has to turn around, but Branch gathers himself just enough to spit out some words)

"One more?"

"OK. How 'bout Illinois."

(Brennan and Branch lose it)

"ILLINOIS?!?! Oh my God Clark, you really are the biggest idiot at this mock tournament selection. Do you know that? Oh and by the way, "RPI" stands for "Rating Percentage Index" not "Really Pretty Index," Myles was just trying to be nice to you. Just keep listening to Panic! At the Disco and shut up."

And, scene.  

UPDATE

I just checked back into the live blog, and simply couldn't bring myself to not post this.

1:23 p.m. Steve Lappas just asked if it matters if a team has a good player.

2:26 p.m. Steve Lappas just said he saw Syracuse play live on Saturday and he thinks the Orange are very good. Remember, Syracuse didn’t even make the field yesterday.

CSTV is never going to have a representative invited again.