People often ask how the actual NCAA selection process differs from Bracketology. I usually joke that it's a whole lot easier to get one person (me!) to agree on something than it is to get 10 people to agree.
Yesterday, with a mix of real and demonstration game results presented by the NCAA staff, a group of ESPN types played the role of the Division I men's basketball committee and produced the mock bracket displayed here. Before folks start driving off bridges in certain areas of the country, a few clarifications are in order:
• In the exercise, Gonzaga won the West Coast Conference tournament. Saint Mary's lost in the championship game without star guard Patty Mills, who never returned from his injury. The Gaels still received some at-large consideration but did not make the final at-large ballot.
• Butler won the Horizon League automatic qualifier. Without that, the Bulldogs clearly had enough support in the room to have been selected at-large if needed.
• Florida and Georgetown made lengthy runs to win the SEC and Big East tournaments, respectively. The Hoyas became the first team ever to win five games in five days to secure their automatic bid.
• Minnesota defeated Illinois for the Big Ten championship. The Gophers likely would have missed the field otherwise.
• Niagara defeated Siena for the MAAC championship. This led to the most lengthy and passionate discussion of the day; namely, whether to vote the Saints into the field as an at-large. In a very close vote, Notre Dame became the final at-large team and Siena just missed the field (for the record, with the Irish reaching only the quarterfinals of the fictitious Big East tournament, I voted for Siena).
• Creighton received some at-large consideration after losing to Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley championship game -- but not enough.
• Davidson (Southern Conference) and Utah State (WAC) failed to secure automatic bids in their leagues and received little to no at-large consideration.
On Friday, we will return to your regularly scheduled programming. In the meantime, don't shoot the messenger!
Joe Lunardi is the resident Bracketologist for ESPN, ESPN.com and ESPN Radio. Comments may be sent to Bracketology@comcast.net.