Since last night’s Selection Show, critics have been slamming the NCAA Selection Committee’s bracket decisions. The biggest points of debate were the exclusion of Colorado and Virginia Tech, Kentucky and Louisville’s placement as four seeds, and the even more bewildering placement of Florida as a two seed in the soft Southeast bracket. I didn’t like it, you didn’t like it, and Coach Cal sure didn’t like it. After some intensive investigation, I got to the bottom of just what went down on the 15th floor of the Westin in Indianapolis last week.
[Fade in on a plush hotel conference room littered with papers, whiteboards, and food wrappers. A television sits in the corner. Nine men and one woman sit in chairs around the conference table. Selection Committee Members are as follows: Eugene Smith (2010-2011 Chair), Stanley M. Morrison, Jeffrey A. Hathaway, Lynn Hickey, Mike Bobinski, Dan Beebe, Doug Fullerton, Ron Wellman, Steve Orsini, and Scott Barnes.]
GENE SMITH: Okay guys, we’ve been here since Wednesday and we haven’t really gotten any work done. It’s time to put down the Wiimotes and get to work!
[Groans and moans rumble across the room.]
GENE SMITH: I know, I know…this level of MarioKart is really fun and all, but let’s face it—none of us are going to beat Rainbow Road. Plus, we have to announce the brackets tomorrow afternoon!
[The groans soften as the other committee members put down their wiimotes and straighten in their chairs.]
GENE SMITH: Thank you. Now, Doug, let’s get started. What are your four #1 seeds?
DOUG FULLERTON: Easy: Ohio State, Kansas, Notre Dame and last but not least… [drums his hands on the table for effect and motions to the other members]
EVERYONE ELSE: DUKE!!
GENE SMITH: Well, of course, that’s a given. Duke’s such a good, respectful ball club. Never any controversy there. Stan, what do you think?
STAN MORRISON: Duke as a #1, obviously. I also like Ohio State, Kansas, and…hmm…I don’t know…who else is pretty good year after year? North Carolina? Okay, yeah, them. And, let’s let both Duke and UNC play in Charlotte. Mike and Roy are quality people.
GENE SMITH: Good idea! Okay, the rest of you write down your picks and put them in this “NCAA is A-OKAY” hat. Let’s talk about some teams on the bubble. This is the hard part. Since none of us really know anything about basketball—
STEVE ORSINI: Hey! I take offense to that.
GENE SMITH: Cut the crap, Orsini. We both played football for Notre Dame and run athletic departments. Digger Phelps’ dog has more insight. No media here, we don’t need to pretend. And don’t give me that look, Mike, you played baseball and worked for Disney, for Christ’s sake.
[Steve reluctantly nods and Mike looks down at the table.]
GENE SMITH: Now, back to what I was saying. Since none of us are what you would call “experts” at this stuff, I’ve come up with a very easy way of deciding who gets in and who stays home. Have you seen that ESPN commercial with all the different ways to choose who wins a game? You know, the fish tank, the baby choosing between two stuffed animal mascots, the dartboard…I think they even had Plinko?
[Committee members light up at the mention of Plinko and nod enthusiastically.]
GENE SMITH: So, since we don’t have a Plinko board, we’re going with one of the fairest games in the world: rock, paper, scissors. Lynn, you be Colorado, I’ll be USC…
Twenty minutes later…
GENE SMITH: Great work, everyone. We’ve finally got our field set. On to seeding. What team do we want to discuss first?
JEFFREY HATHAWAY: What about Kentucky? They’ve been quite the bee under our bonnet lately.
GENE SMITH: Amen. That whole Enes Kanter thing was ridiculous. Did you hear about that punk reporter from that little TV show in Louisville? Andrew Frank or something?
[Chuck Wynne takes a break from unpacking takeout food provided by the NCAA and turns around.]
CHUCK: [in a low voice] Drew Franklin…
GENE SMITH: Yeah, that guy. He had the nerve to come up and try to interview Mark Emmert, which, you know, “not gonna happen,” and then someone from the office was dumb enough to grant him an interview. Can you believe it?!
[Chuck quickly leaves the room.]
RON WELLMAN: Just another example of why Kentucky is an embarrassment to our institution. All those “one and done”s? Tacky. Calipari? Shameful. Besides, they stink this year.
LYNN HICKEY: Actually, Ron, they’re kind of on a tear right now. They beat Florida, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee at home to end the season…I mean, did you see them dismantle Alabama today?
GENE SMITH: Whatever, Lynn, go get us some more Dr. Pepper.
[Lynn glares at the group and leaves the room.]
GENE SMITH: Okay, so I’m all for putting Kentucky at a four seed. Just because it was so fun last year, let’s put them against a really smart school, like Princeton. Our buddy Pete will really like that, comedy gold for sportswriters.
STANLEY MORRISON: Even better, let’s make it so their second round game could be against West Virginia. Huggins makes Cal look like a fool! Remember last year?
GENE SMITH: Nice, Stan! Lynn said Florida beat Kentucky, right? Florida’s pretty impressive these days. Didn’t they win the championship back to back a few years ago?
[Half the group shrugs, the other half nods. Lynn returns.]
GENE SMITH: So Florida’s a two…and you know what? If Kentucky beats them tomorrow, let’s throw them a bone and make fun of Pitino. How about Louisville vs. Morehead State in the opening round? Get it? Morehead? Hehe.
[Laughter all around. Scott Barnes makes rude gestures behind Lynn’s back.]
GENE SMITH: Man, we are hilarious. Okay, enough basketball. Let’s eat lunch! Pass me my buffalo chicken wrap.