A Word To Selection Committee Members


I wouldn't want to be in your shoes as a member of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament selection committee.

It might be the toughest job this side of the presidency.

The task? Choose the 34 from the hundreds of college teams that are most worthy for the remaining slots after conference tournament play ends.

Then decide where all 65 teams -- including the 31 who earned automatic bids -- should be seeded in the tournament.

I'd like to offer a word of advice to the 10 members of the committee: Have confidence in your ability and don't fret. If you make a mistake and put in a questionable team, it isn't that big of a deal. It's only the biggest tournament in sports.

It's so big, there's even a day set aside specifically for the selection results -- Selection Sunday.

Thousands of computer printers around the country were primed to spit out the brackets as soon as you whittled down your selections.

No pressure. Really.

There are hundreds of analysts, reporters, fans, coaches and players already roaring their disapproval and critiquing your choices.

I'm going to try and refrain from being one of them.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the upcoming tournament, which has all the makings to be one of the best in a decade.

Consider the facts:

This year, 104 teams won 20 or more games -- smashing the previous record of 78 teams winning 20 or more in a season.

The two tournament teams with the best overall record are Ohio State and Memphis with 30 wins, three losses and they're in the same region in the tournament. Only one of them will possibly make the Final Four.

Duke has an uncharacteristically low No. 6 seed in the West region. That's right. Duke has a No. 6 seed. I just wanted to say it again because, well, it's Duke.

The Florida Gators earned the overall No. 1 seed, despite losing five games this year. That's how good teams have been this season.

Only six mid-major conferences had teams make it to the Big Dance -- down from eight last year and 12 a couple of years ago.

The beauty of this tournament lies in the fact that -- despite seeding, records and what happened throughout the season -- every team has a chance. Just ask 11th-seeded George Mason about last year.

It takes a bit of luck and usually a player who will defy logic with his remarkable performance.

Keep an eye out for these playmakers. All of them have the hunger it takes to lead their teams to a national championship run.

North Carolina's masked man, Tyler Hansbrough, fresh off a broken nose in conference tournament play, will be a force to behold.

Texas A&M's Acie Law IV is hot right now, just at the right time.

Kevin Durant, who should be the national player of the year, scored 37 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in an overtime loss to Kansas in the Big 12 championship game on Sunday. The announcers for the game repeatedly complimented Kansas' Brandon Rush for his ability to guard Durant. That's how good Durant is.

It would probably be sacrilegious not to mention Greg Oden of Ohio State, even though I think he's a bit overrated. Nevertheless, he is a force to be reckoned with.

Play begins tonight, Tuesday, when Florida A&M takes on Niagara and continues with first-round games all day Thursday and Friday.

My level of excitement is almost uncontainable.

So, I say to selection committee members -- a job well done.

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