Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Myths and Realities

If you've been doing bracketology for a long time(or following it), you probably come to the realization that there are certain people that will complain to no end about your work, claiming that they know more about the subject than you do. But they don't. Here are a few myths you can use to defend yourself from the onslaught of Joe Homers.

Myth 1
CBS has a hand in picking teams in order to maximize ratings.

Reality 1
In truth, CBS does nothing to influence the selection committee. It only places one camera in the selection room(soundless of course) and occasionally checks in to see how far the committee is along in the process. For the past few years, reporter Seth Davis is allowed in, but only for a general look at the process and not for anything relating the bracket.

Myth 2
20 wins means an automatic invite to the dance.

Reality 2
In truth, 20 wins mean nothing to the committee in this era of multi-team tournaments, mega conferences and imbalanced schedules. Who you beat and where you beat them mean more than does the actual win count. Always has and always will.

Myth 3
Traditional powers will always get the benefit of the doubt, even if they have losing records.

Reality 3
If traditional powers have losing records, their only way to make the field is to be victorious in their conference tournament. The elites have to earn their way in, just like the proletariats in the lower leagues.

Myth 4
Conferences get bids based on how well the media perceives it.

Reality 4
The NCAA makes it quite explicit in the selection procedures and principles that teams get bids to the dance, not conferences(except the automatic qualifiers). An egregious example occured in 2007 when Brent Musburger said, during a Big Ten game no less, that the Big Ten would get five bids to the dance, causing a mild controversy. Turned out that his Museness was right, there were five teams from the Big Ten in the field.

Myth 5
Hyped-up matchups are contrived by the committee before the bracket is setup

Reality 5
Hyped-up matchups are actually the byproduct of the bracketing process. For instance, the top 3 teams from a given conference must be placed in different regions, no team may meet a fellow conference member until the regional finals, and so on.

Myth 6
The RPI is the be all and end all

Reality 6
The RPI is just one of many tools at the committee's hand, the most important one though is the observations of the ten members of the committee and it's their work that produces the most famous bracket in sports.

So if you find a Joe Homer who thinks he knows what he's talking about, pepper him with this material. You'll be glad you did.

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