Whether the wide-open college basketball season has been good or bad for the game itself matters little to the NCAA Selection Committee. It will, however, make its job of putting together the NCAA tournament bracket very difficult over the coming days.
"There may be a few more teams in the conversation for the one line than last year," Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski, the committee chairman, said in a conference call Wednesday.
The one line is where the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament reside, with each successive group of four teams a line below them, in essence, making up the next numbered seed. Ultimately, the designations could be as arbitrary as they ever have been.
"I'll take it a step further," ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said in his own conference call. "There are more teams on the first three or four lines of the bracket than can legitimately win the championship. I say that because there's not a lot of difference between them right now. Look how wide open the top line has been all season long in our projections."
It means that while Duke is presumed to be the top overall seed heading into the weekend, an ACC final loss to Miami could rearrange the balance of an entire region of the bracket. It means that Louisville and Georgetown could play for more than a Big East tournament title if they each reach the final.
Further down the line, whether it's "mediocrity or parity," as described on Lunardi's call by former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg, it also means Bobinski and his cohorts could be in for some heated discussions. Bobinski, who favors good wins over bad losses -- and jokingly, ugly uniforms -- said one game shouldn't decide whether a team receives an at-large bid. It's hard to believe it that it won't be the case.
"This year perhaps the seeding process, when we get to the middle of the field, will be as sticky or just as fine of distinctions as we've ever been asked to make," Bobinski said. "That probably feels a little different than years gone by."
- Craig Stouffer