NCAA goes public with hoops tournament selection criteria

January 6, 2012
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NCAA officials are raising the curtain on the wizards making the selections and seedings for its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

The reasons behind the selections have long been questioned, and in recent years the NCAA selection committee has been more forthcoming about the selection criteria.

But this week NCAA executives said they are opting for complete season-long transparency, making all the information used in the selection process available to the public.

The information to be released will include the Rating Percentage Index data and in-depth team information known within college basketball circles as the “nitty gritty reports.” The nitty gritty reports include data on strength of schedule, performance against top 50 teams, conference and non-conference performance, and road and home records.

The selection data will be posted on the association’s website, NCAA.org, under the Rating Percentage Index tab. There, NCAA officials said, it can be tracked by media and fans on a weekly basis throughout the season.

“The bottom line is that the more we can do to enhance and further inform that discussion and debate through transparency, the more you can have thorough discussion,” said Jeff Hathaway, NCAA Div. I men’s basketball chairman. “When the field is announced, everybody will have had the opportunity throughout the regular season to go back and look at the information, just as if they were sitting on the committee.”

It has become an annual rite of passage each March for the media and fans to criticize the NCAA selection committee for at least some of its selections.

While transparency is always a good idea, in this case it will likely serve not to end the debate, but to shift it. There is bound to be as much discussion now about the criteria used in the selections as the teams that are selected. The BCS football bowl criteria have long been transparent. That hasn’t stopped the howling about inequities in the selection of participants in the bowl games.

And there will still surely be much debate about which basketball teams are sent where to play in the opening and regional rounds of the tournaments. Certain teams, especially those highly seeded teams and known for drawing good crowds in their backyards, have often been sent to play their games closer to home.

So let the games begin. And let the debate begin.

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