Selection Sunday draws near

Published 3:44 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Associated Press


Five weeks until Selection Sunday. Twenty-five more days in college basketball’s regular season. The season is winding down, and that means constant bubble talk and discussions about seeding.

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This NCAA Tournament is setting up to be a good one. Just ask the man who’s running the show.

“We have had six No. 1 teams already. It is deeper at the top,” Oklahoma athletic director and Selection Committee chairman Joe Castiglione said Wednesday. “How exciting and unpredictable March is setting up to be.”

The committee is meeting in Indianapolis, kind of a refresher course for the veterans and a chance for new members — Ohio University athletic director Jim Schaus and Duke athletic director Kevin White — to get a chance to see the process in action.

“We have been meeting and tomorrow morning, after we have evaluated all 336 eligible schools, we will conduct a mock draft before we adjourn,” Castiglione said before adding reasons this won’t be just another NCAA Tournament.

“Usually there are between nine and 11 conferences that could send multiple teams to the tournament,” Castiglione said. “This year I could make a case for 14 leagues to get multiple bids if a team doesn’t win the automatic berth, and that’s going to make for an exciting stretch run.

“Last year it was very obvious and at the start of the meeting we had eight teams locked in the top two lines, and that was unprecedented. That may not happen again next month. It just hasn’t been that type of season, and I view it as a good thing for the fans.”

Castiglione said the new emphasis on rules designed to open the game up has done just that.

“The pace of the game is better and scoring is up 8 percent and there are 6 percent more possessions and the games are a little shorter,” Castiglione said. “Last season there were 30 teams that averaged 75 points per game. This season there are 139 scoring at that rate and that’s significant. The changes have truly improved the game and that was our goal.”

The committee will meet in New York for the first time. and 32 conference champions will be joined by 36 at-large teams.

Castiglione said injuries, suspensions and midseason eligibles will all be considered when a team is discussed, and he said the suspensions include those of coaches.

Louisville and SMU are two teams that otherwise would be considered locks for the tournament had they not become ineligible because of NCAA rules violations. Having played them won’t hurt another team’s chances.

“Games against any of the teams not under consideration will be included in any and all metrics, just like any other team,” he said. “It’s valued just the same.”

Castiglione has one problem that seems to be a good one for an athletic director. The Sooners were ranked No. 1 for three weeks and are definitely in the running for a No. 1 seed.

The rule is anybody with a connection to the school being discussed must leave the room,

“I’ll be stepping out as the case warrants,” Castiglione said. “I would much rather step out of the room because my team is being discussed rather than sit in the room and not have my team mentioned.”