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March Madness Chatter

With Texas winners of eight straight and in the thick of the top seed conversation, I sought out some expert answers for a few questions.'s resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi gave me a few moments of his much sought after time.

In terms of Top 50 RPI wins, no team appears to have quite so strong a profile as the Longhorns, both in terms of quantity (10) or quality (at UCLA, neutral Tennessee, vs Kansas). If Texas were to win its final three conference games to finish at 14-2 in the Big 12, would they be all but assured a #1 seed in the NCAAs?

Joe Lunardi, - Nothing happens in a vacuum.  However, assuming Texas does not suffer an early-round loss in the Big 12 tournament (as UCLA did last year in the Pac-10), you'd have to like the odds for a No. 1 seed in this scenario.

Can you explain to us how the committee decides which region to send its top seeds? Texas fans are understandably lusting a spot in the Houston regional. Most forecasts have Memphis headed to Houston on the top line – what would it take for Texas to earn that spot?

Joe Lunardi, - The committee goes one team at a time, starting with No. 1 overall, and sends each team in turn to the closest available location (provided no other bracketing principles, such as meeting a team from your own conference, come into play).

I wrote back in November that getting to the Houston regional was a potentially huge reward for the Longhorns. With first and second round games in Little Rock, a regional in Houston, and a Final Four in San Antonio, the road to a championship might be an incredibly short one, at least in terms of distance. Is there any precedent for such a local path to a local Final Four? And is it something the selection committee would consider?

Joe Lunardi, - It happened to Illinois in 2005.  The Illini went Indianapolis/Chicago/St. Louis, all bus rides.  If Texas is high enough on the S-Curve, the committee would reward the Longhorns similarly.

Finally, there’s some debate among Texas fans about whether it would be preferable to be a #2 in Houston or a #1 in any other regional. Based on your experience covering this tournament, what’s your opinion on the subject?

Joe Lunardi, - Both scenarios have worked and both have not.  My hunch, and it is nothing more than that, is that all teams are different and it depends more on how an individual team reacts being away from home.  Georgetown, in the old "Hoya Paranoia" days, preferred and lobbied to be as far away as possible.  There's no one path to success.