Committee considers several factors when crafting NCAA bracket

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entucky coach John Calipari and the Wildcats will learn their destination for the upcoming NCAA Tournament during a selection show Sunday. The Wildcats open play in the SEC Tournament Friday in St. Louis. (Tammie Brown/Kentucky Today)

ST. LOUIS (KT) — The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is hunkered down and set to begin the selection process for the Big Dance.

Going into the Southeastern Conference Tournament, 12 teams, including Ohio Valley Conference Tournament winner Murray State, have secured automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week at various sites across the county. The selection show will be at 6 p.m. Sunday and televised nationally on TBS.

Creighton Athletics Director Bruce Rasmussen, chair of the Division I men’s basketball committee, said once the teams are selected, the committee crafts together a final bracket, which takes approximately an hour to complete with a few exceptions.

“While that’s true, I should also add that we always have to build contingency brackets based on possible outcomes or a combination of possible outcomes of Sunday’s five conference championship games,” Rasmussen said during a teleconference Wednesday. “A couple of years ago, we had 12 brackets based on those scenarios.”

Rasmussen said the process isn’t limited to particular criteria and added the committee follows “the bracketing principles pertaining to geography as we strive to get as many teams as we can to the closest site available.” The committee also takes into “consideration conference affiliation as we try avoiding matchups of teams from within the same league.”

“We evaluate the whole body of work,” he said. “All games have the same emphasis. However, when you’re playing in a conference tournament, you have an opportunity to possibly play teams that are high RPI teams, and therefore you have an opportunity to maybe get another quality win or two, which could impact your seeding and selection.”

Rasmussen also added the committee doesn’t “try to project how a team will do with or without a player.” Kentucky freshman forward Jared Vanderbilt is being evaluated on a day-to-day basis after suffering an unspecified injury in practice earlier this week. Vanderbilt wasn’t expected to practice Wednesday. Vanderbilt has averaged 7.9n rebounds and 5.9 points since making his debut against South Carolina in January.

“We don’t try to project how a team will do with or without a player,” he said. “We try to look at what they’ve done over the entire year and make a decision based upon that.”

Porter to play

Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin confirmed Wednesday that heralded freshman Michael Porter Jr. will play in the team’s first game of the SEC Tournament Thursday. The Tigers will play the winner of Wednesday night’s Georgia-Vanderbilt game at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in St. Louis. Porter was considered a lottery pick before suffered a back injury in November. 

Martin said Porter won’t start and isn’t sure how many minutes he will contribute.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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