First Things First - 2010 NCAA tournament

Mar 15, 2010

As one of the weakest at-large NCAA Tournament fields prepares to begin play, talk continues about expanding the tournament to 96 teams and adding another week of play. Money is the main motivation, of course. I'm against it; tell me why I'm right or wrong.

So I know where your heart is, but what is your head telling you about the Jayhawks chances? I'm worried about what I perceive is a lack of a killer instinct - they let teams get back in games.

Might as well start with this one. Thanks, everyone, for joining me.


Rock Chalk, I know just what you mean. They are not the team of 2008, certainly. I am hopeful that Aldrich will step up a bit and that they'll get in a groove and shake whatever it is that makes them start slow in just about every game. Because talent-wise, they are loaded.

Full disclosure: I'm a Richmond alum. I don't get how Richmond gets a 7 seed while Xavier gets a 6 when the Spiders beat Xavier two of three times -- blowing them out at Richmond, narrowly losing in 2 OTs at Xavier, and winning in OT on a neutral court in the conference semis.

I understand there are subjective elements to selection, but really? How much more objective can this one be? On a related note, the A-1o as a whole was under-seeded, with Temple only getting a 5 seed. It should been a 4 for Temple, 5 for Richmond, and a 6 for Xavier. I will now get off of my web covered soap box.

This is a good example of why the seedings sometimes stink. You are right about Richmond. Temple and Cornell are both under-seeded. I think your 4-5-6 trifecta is the right call. I nominate you for the committee!

How does it work that Spokane is hosting Midwest and South regional games on Friday and Sunday?

This is that wacky schedule thing again. They decided to keep the names Midwest, West, etc., but send teams to better locations geographically. Like Syracuse, in the West, playing its first two games in Buffalo. So you have these weird things like Midwest games in Spokane. It's so unbelievably confusing -- let's add 31 more teams!

And now onto one of the more poignant moments of yesterdays unveiling....Can you let CBS now that it really isn't necessary to play that cheesy "One Moment in Time" song during the selection show. Not only is it one of the worst songs ever (only beaten out by "Run for the Roses" by Dan Fogelberg), it isn't fitting. If just getting into the tournament--among the weakest fields ever--is your team's big 'Moment in Time', than maybe you shouldn't even be in the tournament.

Boy, I was thinking the same thing last night. Love Jennifer Hudson, but hate that song. And it's inappropriate for the selection show. All most of those guys did yesterday was get together, eat pizza and watch tv (not that there's anything wrong with it). But that's hardly a moment in time. Save it for the first Monday in April -- or June, if they expand the field.

MS looked amazing yesterday, and they have taken Kentucky to overtime twice. Weren't they dogged yesterday?

Yes, I didn't have any quibbles with most of the selections but thought Mississippi State had played their way in. And if they had won one of those OT games, they probably would have made it. Pity.

Tracee, you're absolutely right about the "field of 96" being an appallingly bad idea. Now on to the important stuff: Are you outraged at Kansas's draw, or are you taking it in stride? I think it's a little silly to be outraged by the depth of the region, because Kansas is going to have at least three tough games and it doesn't matter whether they end up playing OSU or GU or someone else in that regional final.

I'm not outraged, I guess, but I do wonder why we're the No. 1 overall seed but don't get the play-in game winner. Duke, to me, got the easiest draw and I don't think it earned that. The ACC compared to the Big 12, this season, is no comparison. And KU won the regular season and conference tournament outright. So where's the love? But no, saving the outrage because if Kansas is the top seed, it should be able to handle any draw. We'll see.

It looks like the geniuses at CBS/NCAA have again scheduled to have 4 games each day of the first and second rounds start at the same time so those same 4 games are ending at the same and CBS has to constantly switch back and forth to whichever game is closest or doesn't have a timeout at the moment. Can anyone explain the logic of this? Why not stagger the start times?

Well, stop making sense!  Truthfully, they do stagger then a little. I'd like to see them staggered a little more but that would mean starting the day a little earlier; otherwise the last games would be going off even later than they already are -- which is too darn late. I'm sure there's a rule somewhere that they can't start before noon, although frankly, it would be great if they started about 10 a.m. on Thursday. Just prolong the greatness that is First Thursday.

How is it that Kansas has been able to avoid the kind of falling-off, despite it's coaching changes, that Arizona, Indiana, UCLA, North Carolina and even Duke have suffered over the years? Also, could Duke possibly have been handed a more favorable bracket?

I think KU got very lucky in getting Bill Self; I really think that's the entire answer. We have great tradition at Kansas but so do those programs you mention; you can't recruit 17-year-olds on tradition. Self's just nothing but personality and obviously can coach. And no, Duke could not have been handed a more favorable bracket!

have their work cut out for them. What was the tournament committee thinking when they stacked the Midwest? Kentucky and Duke look like they have the easiest paths.

I do think the Midwest is the toughest bracket but I thought that was just my bias showing. I knew they'd stick Tennessee in with Kansas to see if they could wangle a rematch. Maybe they hoped to force a Maryland-Georgetown game? Beats me.

As the smallest school ever to make it to the dance, do the Terriers have any shot at notching a couple victories and making it past next weekend?

I really wanted to pick Wofford and almost did, in part because it would be great and in part because Wisconsin doesn't do it for me. I think Wofford does have a chance for one upset. I don't think the Terriers can get past Temple or Cornell. But they'll have a lot of rooters -- who won't be pulling for an underdog called the Terriers!?

Do teams like Syracuse and Maryland actually help themselves by losing early in their conference tournaments? Some teams are just toast after playing 3 or 4 games in 4 days and then just lose early in the NCAAs.

This is a good question. I wonder about this. When the Big 12 championship was held on Sunday, I was always torn between wanted KU to win it all and wanting them to go out in the first game and get some rest. However, when the committee rewards a team that wins a conference tournament (Duke) and penalizes a team that loses early (Syracuse), it sends a message that the conference tournament is important. I've always put more stock in the regular season title, personally. And they'll never do away with conference tournaments because of the money the conferences make on them.

Isn't it kind of bull anyway? Why pick the two "worst" teams and make them play into the field? They won their conference tournaments to qualify. Seems unfair to me. Instead, why not take the last 2 at-large bids and make them play in?

Yes, I have never liked the play-in. It sort of makes two teams second-class citizens. I think they should just have 64 teams and have done with it. But of course with expansion those poor teams will finally get a full berth in the dance. Unless they go with 97 teams and force another play-in game. ugh!

What does RPI stand for, and how is it calculated?

Ratings Percentage Index, and we'd need another half hour to explain it. The formula is based on wins and losses and strength of schedule:

RPI = (WP * 0.25) + (OWP * 0.50) + (OOWP * 0.25)

WP is winning percentage, OWP is the opponent's winning percentage, and OOWP is the opponent's opponent's winning percentage.

Aren't you sorry you asked? Thankfully, they've got some super computer somewhere to calculate this, one assumes.

In your opinion, what are the top qualities of a team that can make a run (experienced guards, rebounders, team defense, etc.)?

I've always thought defense was the key. If you have a strong defensive system, you should be good to go, especially since you don't have a lot of time to prepare, especially for the second games on the weekends. Defense can help negate a strong three-point shooting team, which is always a danger in the tournament.

We're out of time; our morning chats are going to be a down-and-dirty thirty minutes. Good luck with your brackets!


In This Chat
Tracee Hamilton
Every morning, Post columnist Tracee Hamilton discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports.

Tracee Hamilton has worked at the Post since 1993, toiling in office obscurity as an editor before someone said, "Hey, you've got a lot of opinons and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?"

Her interests range from geneology to Nordic combined to Kansas basketball. If ever there was a Jayhawk who once flew off a ski jump, she'd know where he was buried.

Her list of pet peeves is considerably longer, but includes Missouri basketball and poor subway etiquette. She welcomes dissenting opinions -- in the way Great Whites welcome open-water swimmers.

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