March 6, 2001
Listen in to today's conference call with Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, the chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee.
NEW YORK - The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee gets together in Indianapolis on Thursday and its work won't be done until the final minutes before the brackets are revealed.
The 10-member committee starts the task of selecting and seeding the 65 teams for the tournament field on Thursday, but because four of the top conferences don't play their championships games until Sunday, there's plenty that be done until then.
"I have been sitting in Indianapolis for two days giving it some thought," Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, the chairman of the committee, said in conference call Tuesday. "We as a committee, our jobs are made harder with games on Sunday, but we don't have the right to wipe out Sunday games. People are playing on that day for significant business reasons. I like to think the answer is out there but I don't know what it is."
The Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference start their tournament title games at 1 p.m. EST Sunday. The Big 12 starts at 3 p.m. and the Big Ten tips off an hour after that.
Sunday championships always have been around, but it's years like this, where as many as three No. 1 seeds could be decided by those games, that make the committee's already tough job even tougher.
"We can't move the selection show back another day for logistics because teams have to travel to first-round sites," Tranghese said. "It's an issue, I can tell you that and it can complicate situations. We have to be prepared and have a variety of scenarios ready depending on the outcome of those games."
The committee has always prided itself on the amount of information available to it as it makes the decisions on who's in and where they go.
"This is as well prepared as any committee I've been involved with," said Tranghese, who is in his fifth year on the panel and first as the chairman. "People have worked hard on their own and we'll start on Thursday. We've already started talking a lot among ourselves about things like tough games and conferences, and hopefully that will help us starting Thursday."
The great majority of the 34 at-large bids is expected to be from the six power conferences - ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-10 and Big East.
One of the mid-major programs that will be given consideration presents a situation rarely seen.
Richmond, which won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championship, wasn't allowed to participate in the conference tournament because its leaving next season for the Atlantic 10.
The Spiders (21-6), who were 43rd in the latest RPI figures available to the public, didn't get a shot at an automatic bid and will have to rely on the committee.
"They're an at-large team and everybody on the committee knows they weren't given an opportunity to play in the conference tournament," Tranghese said. "We'll evaluate them as a team that won their conference and look at their schedule and see if they deserve to get in. They will be on the list of conference regular-season champions we put up on the board."
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer