Yellow Jackets Rally For NCAA Tourney Bid
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
March 15, 2010
(AP) — Dan Guerrero took a deep breath, sat back in his chair Sunday
night and glanced once more at the advice printed on the NCAA selection
committee’s grease board: The Pack.
If only the debate over America’s best 34 at-large teams was that simple.
and nine other committee members spent the past five days hunkered down
in an Indianapolis hotel room, trying to get this year’s NCAA tourney
bracket right. It was even more difficult than Guerrero anticipated.
knew going in and the committee knew going in that parity was going to
get us,” the committee chairman said. “When you have teams that might
be on the bubble playing for an AQ (automatic bid) if they happen to
win that automatic qualifier, someone gets bounced. It happened last
How difficult were things for Guerrero’s group?
committee members arrived Wednesday, Guerrero said there were more
teams under consideration than he had seen in his five years on the
And even when it seemed as if the committee finally
had 65 teams, changes continually forced the committee to make
— Guerrero acknowledged that if Mississippi
State had won Sunday’s SEC title game, it would have knocked another
team out of the 65-team field. As is customary, the UCLA athletic
director wouldn’t reveal which team would have been bumped. It’s
likely, based on seeding, Utah State or UTEP would have been out. Both
were No. 12 seeds, the lowest-seeded of any at-large team.
Utah State’s inclusion forced the committee to adapt. After waking up
Sunday, committee members learned that the Aggies had been upset by New
Mexico State in Saturday night’s Western Athletic Conference title
game. That gave New Mexico State the automatic bid that was expected to
go to Utah State and bumped another team from the field.
It was that kind of week for the committee.
scrubbed the list well into the afternoon (Sunday) and then we said,
let’s start bracketing,” Guerrero said. “I got the first bracket at
about 5 p.m.”
Or an hour before the pairings were to be released on television.
But upsets weren’t the only problem.
NCAA teams from the rest of the pack created all kinds of controversy.
By winning the ACC tournament, Duke was seeded one spot higher than
Syracuse as a No. 1 seed — a surprise to some. The reason seemingly
came down Syracuse’s two losses at the end of the season, something the
committee had said would be less of a factor in this season’s pairings.
Apparently, it still made an impact.
one of the pieces we evaluate,” Guerrero said. “So if a team, as you
indicated, is not finishing as strong, there may be other criteria that
makes a difference as to whether they get in or how they’re seeded.
There are some teams that finished pretty strong that if it didn’t get
them in the field, it helped them with the seed.”
Another issue was injuries.
6 Purdue wasn’t the same without swingman Robbie Hummel, and Syracuse
lost center Arinze Onuaku with a quadriceps injury against Georgetown
in the Big East quarterfinals.
That hurt both those teams, even though Onuaku is expected to be OK.
Dame, meanwhile, may have been helped by its strong showing after
losing Luke Harangody. Clearly, it made a difference in the committee’s
“The committee had the benefit of seeing several games
after Robbie (Hummel) went down, and obviously they weren’t the same
team without him,” Guerrero said of Purdue slipping to a No. 4 seed.
“To be fair to everyone, Purdue did slip. I think everyone knows that.”