Gonzaga’s Mark Few knew he had a good team, but after a loss to St. Mary’s late in the season, the Bulldogs’ head coach also knew his team wouldn’t get a bid to the NCAA Tournament without a conference championship. So Gonzaga did just that, beating that same St. Mary’s team in the West Coast Conference Tournament final and punching their ticket to the March Madness field of 68.
Two weeks later, the Midwest region’s 11th seeded Zags are preparing for a Sweet 16 matchup against the 10th seeded Syracuse Orange after winning their first two NCAA Tournament games decidedly. Few joined The Jim Rome Show on Tuesday and shared his feelings on the NCAA selection committee’s process and how he believes they’re focusing on the wrong things.
“The problem that I think is happening now, there’s so much information out there that all of us have access to. It makes everybody an expert now and the narrative starts to begin being written in January and February by all these people that analyze and the bracketologists and all this, and pretty soon, that becomes the narrative, begins the truth if that makes sense,” Few said.
Few continued, “Some of these leagues, however they do it, it just happens this way. They end up kind of tricking the RPI. Where they’re getting seven teams in, and you’re looking at that team and like that team’s not any good, but they got a 20 something RPI,” Few said. “Then the circular argument begins to happen, like well, it’s not all about the RPI, but this team’s 7-2 vs. the Top 100, and I’m like well that’s based on the RPI. There’s some swings from RPI to BPI, to Sagarin, Kenpom, there might be 30 point swings sometimes one way or another. You might be 24 in the RPI, and 60 something in the Sagarin or BPI or something. So they’ve got to kind of bring these all things together and make kind of an average deal.”
Few also said the committee could be helped by more basketball minds and less computers.
“Everybody laughs and kind of mocks the eye test, but I think there’s something to it,” Few said. “That’s where I think it would behoove us to really makes sure we have some ex-coaches or people that have been involved with the sport of basketball for a long long time, and I think maybe they could help people through that, because I think right now, people just take those bracketologists’ word for everything and kind of plug in numbers, and numbers don’t always give you the truest sense of where everything is at.”
Coaching his team in the school’s 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, Few understands how special March Madness is to everyone and knows the selection process will continue to be tweaked.
“Once people are talking about it, usually, that can be impetus for change down the road. I think it is very difficult to change right away, but I think a lot of people are talking about it,” Few said. “I think we all, everybody cares about it, and everybody sees just how big of a deal this is.”
Few believes this past weekend’s opening rounds were a prime example of how big of a deal March Madness has become. “It’s just unbelievable drama, excitement. It’s literally the greatest, I think, sporting event in the world. So we got to protect it, and we got to take care of it, and there’s a bunch of money involved with it, so we got to make it right. So I think just a couple tweaks like that basketball, getting some basketball, making sure basketball people are on that committee, and then we really got to watch this narrative.”
Few pointed out two conference opponents as schools who were snubbed by the selection process.
“For instance BYU and St. Mary’s are really, really, really good teams and look, the rest of our league wasn’t very good, but those two teams were really, really good, and they were punished, numbers wise, by our league, but also perception-wise by the bracketologists from December on, saying, well they’re probably only going to get one bid out of that league. Well, I disagree. I’ve played them their both really, really good.”