The process of selecting the final field of the NCAA Tournament is never an easy job. Analysts around the country toil for months, poring over RPI ratings, strength of schedule, conference standings, and any other little piece of information that can put the so-called bubble teams over the edge and into the Big Dance. Bracketology was born from this study - an art form more than a science, with an infinite amount of variables to consider, and every March, it becomes the first thing on any sports fan's mind. Hell, even non sports fans start Googling "bracketology" and "bubble teams" as they prepare to fill out their brackets for office pools and friendly competitions.
Before these brackets can be filled out though, the selection committee much make their final cuts. So, who are these people? These mysterious and powerful adjudicators?
The Selection Committee is made up of ten people - nine men and one woman. This group includes former Big 12 Commissioner Dan Bebee, former University of Connecticut AD Jeff Hathaway, Xavier AD Mike Bobinski, Texas-San Antonio AD Lynn Hickey, Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman, SMU AD Steve Orsini, Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton, Utah State AD Scott Barnes, LSU AD Joe Alleva, and West Coast Conference commissioner Jamie Zaninovich.
These ten fine human beings have been sequestered on the 15th floor conference room at the Indianapolis Westin since Wednesday (I'm assuming they get bathroom breaks and food), and are set to make their final proclamations at 3:00pm Sunday afternoon.
The actual decision process is quite interesting. As Chris Durdon explains, once in the hotel:
Only the ten members, NCAA staff and select hotel personnel are allowed entry. Family members must give the hotel operator a password in order to call their loved ones. Security guards the elevators and exits.
Committee remembers have briefing books on the teams and their Rating Percentage Indexes (RPI). Each member is responsible for providing information to the group on a number of conferences. The information includes specifics on wins, losses, coaching changes, suspensions and scheduling issues. If a member's school is being discussed, that member must leave the room until the conversation is over.
The 68 bids are split up between 31 conference tournament champions and the regular season champion of the Ivy League. At large, bids go to an additional 37 teams.
As it sits now, the Washington Huskies and Cal Golden Bears sit squarely on the bubble. The Pac-12 has had a down year, and so far the only guaranteed team in the Dance are the Colorado Buffaloes, an automatic bid after winning the Pac-12 Tournament.
As Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports puts it, the question of "how many Pac-12 teams should make the field?" is likely at the forefront of the committee members' eyes. Per Eisenberg:
There's a chance the Pac-12 could become the first power conference since 1986 to get just one NCAA tournament bid after collectively beating just three RPI top 50 opponents in non-league play. Pac-12 tournament champ Colorado will be in the field as roughly a No. 13 seed, but the league's other top teams either will be sweating it out Sunday or have already declared there's no hope. Cal (24-9) likely has the best chance to earn an at-large bid as a result of its top 40 RPI and 3-0 head-to-head record against Washington and Oregon, but the Bears beat nobody noteworthy in non-league play and staggered to the finish with three losses in four games. The only other Pac-12 team with a case is Washington (21-10), which won the outright Pac-12 regular season title but has a bloated No. 69 RPI and a dearth of quality wins. It would not be a shock if neither Cal nor Washington gets in nor if both of them earned two of the final bids, but the most likely outcome is the Bears joining Colorado in the field and the Huskies being left out.
Stay with our Selection Sunday StoryStream throughout the day, and the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, for the latest updates. Make sure you check back to SB Nation's Printable Bracket StoryStream to start making your picks.