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Hoge: Mock NCAA Tournament Bracket Revealed

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By Adam Hoge-

Editor’s note: Adam is among 20 members of the media from across the country who were part of  a mock NCAA Tournament selection committee at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. The committee simulated the five-day selection process in a condensed two-day session. For an in-depth look at the seeding process, check out Adam’s recap from Day 1 of the seminar

INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) The bracket is set.

After a two-day seminar, our mock selection committee produced a full NCAA Tournament bracket Friday afternoon at the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis.

I’ll let you go through the bracket to check out the specifics, but I will go through the bubble and pass along some important nuggets about the bracketing specifics.

(A couple of disclaimers: The automatic-qualifers (conference champions) were decided for us by the NCAA and for time purposes, the NCAA also determined the 6-11 seeds.)

Bubble Watch

The last four teams in the field were (in order): Baylor, California, Virginia and Iowa State.

The first four teams out of the field were (in order): North Carolina, Charlotte, Villanova and Kentucky.

In other words, Iowa State was the last team to get into the tournament and North Carolina was the first team that did not make it. The Tar Heels were actually originally voted in, but were bumped out when the NCAA threw us a curveball and revealed that Alabama upset Florida in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama wasn’t going to otherwise make the field as an at-large berth, so the Crimson Tide pushed North Carolina out. This is something that happens almost every year during selection weekend.

Other curveballs included St. John’s winning the Big East Tournament and Temple winning the Atlantic-10 Tournament. Both of those results also impacted the bubble.

Bracketing Process

There are a number of misconceptions regarding the bracketing process. In fact, it is the most misunderstood part of putting the field together. Here are some important revelations from the mock selection process:

- There really are no conspiracy theories. Fans and media tend to think the NCAA and CBS like to create dream matchups for TV ratings, but the truth is, there just isn’t enough time for that. The bracketing process usually doesn’t start until about 1:30 ET on Selection Sunday and that’s on a good year. Most of the time is spent on determining the seeding list 1-68. The bracket is the last thing the committee does and it’s extremely complicated.

There are a number of rules involving teams from the same conference playing each other, as well as an effort to avoid regular season and even recent NCAA Tournament rematches.

- The NCAA does not use an S-curve. In other words, Indiana was our No. 1 overall seed, but that doesn’t mean the No. 16 overall seed (the last 4-seed) gets put in their half of the region.

- Instead, geography is the biggest and most important factor when determining the bracket. The NCAA makes every effort possible to keep the top four lines (1-16 overall teams) close to home. That said, each line is different. Michigan ended up in the West because they were the No. 4 overall team and then the last No. 1 seed put in a region.

- Once our entire seed list is figured out from 1-68, conference affiliation no longer matters. The committee spends four and half days putting together that list and that’s how they’ve determined the teams stack up against each other. You may have noticed that we had three perceived “mid-majors” (Gonzaga, Butler and New Mexico) in our top 16 and they all ended up in the same region. Reporters and fans will jump on that right away, but it really shouldn’t matter. The committee determined that they were among the top 16 teams in the country regardless of conference and the bracketing process just happened to put them in the same region.

The discussions from the two-day seminar in Indianapolis could go on forever and they inevitably will. I look forward to applying all of this information in our conversations with you over the next month as we get closer to Selection Sunday.