Do you believe in conspiracies? Do you KNOW that Jeremy Lin’s NBA ascendancy was no accident, that the Giants didn’t just happen to beat the Patriots twice as Super Bowl underdogs and that forces WAY beyond the basketball court enabled Butler to make two straight national title games?
Oh, yes. That the X-Files was based on true stories.
Then you have to scrutinize the meaning behind the meaning when NCAA selection committee chairman Jeff Hathaway insists that, when it comes to picking the 37 at-large teams for the now 68-team NCAA tourney field, there is no conspiracy.
That is, of course, what you’d expect THEM to say.
Anyway, Hathaway touched on a lot of things about the NCAA tourney selection process the other day, including any misconceptions about the process.
“One of the greatest misconceptions I’ve heard over the years is that there are conspiracy theories,” he says. “That we match up certain teams. That we set the bracket a certain way.
“The examples I’ve head in the past is that UCLA is playing Belmont because both have the Bruins for their mascots; or one team is playing another team because the assistant coach of the second team used to work at the other school.”
Not true, Hathaway says.
“That’s the one thing I can unequivocally say –- there are no conspiracy theories.”
He said it again –- “No conspiracy theories.”
And then, “There is a wide range of checks and balances in place throughout the system, throughout the process, to where the process is monitored in a very strict way and to allow for no conspiracy theories.”
The key word here, of course, is “process.” It is the code word for those who understand that “Men in Black” is not a movie, but a reality. It all leads to one inescapable conclusion:
In the week starting March 5, in an Indianapolis hotel, conspiracy begins.
Indiana is now a lock for the NCAA tournament.
With a 20-6 record, with victories over four ranked teams (Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame), with an RPI of 15, with a freshman superstar in Cody Zeller, the nation’s best three-point shooting team and an almost certain strong finish, the Hoosiers are in.
The focus now is to get the best possible seed to get the best possible chance to win a NCAA game or two, and really set the stage for Big Ten and national contention next season.
To understand what kind of seed IU could get, it’s important to understand what the selection committee looks at.
Hathaway says the 10 committee members considers strength of schedule, non-conference strength of schedule, and an ability to win on the road (IU’s win at Purdue is going to play really well here).
Each at-large candidate has a team sheet that lists all its advantages and disadvantages. That’s what committee members consider, Hathaway insists. Things like winning 20 games, conference record and conference standings no longer apply. Big wins, whether they happen in November or late February, get equal weight. It’s all about determining the nation’s very best teams beyond those getting automatic NCAA bids.
“The bottom line is, we are going to look at three things –- who did you play, where did you play, how did you do,” Hathaway says.
He also adds that the quality of basketball across the country has never been better.
“We are seeing more and more quality in more team sheets,” he says, “and that’s great for college basketball. That’s what we all want to see.”
Yogi Ferrell gets most of the hype these days, but is Jeremy Hollowell potentially the best player in IU’s second-ranked Class of 2012?
It’s possible. The guy is 6-8 and still growing. He’s coming off a two-game stretch where he scored 55 of Lawrence Central’s 120 points. He beat Warren Central with a LONG three-pointer, 59-56, to give him 27 points. In front of IU coach Tom Crean he had 28 points and nine rebounds in another win.
What had once been an apparent lack of fire in his game and approach, has been replaced by a focused intensity to be the best. More and more, he's playing like one of America's best high school players.
Now he’s even more highly motivated thanks to his not being selected to the McDonald’s All-American team. Ferrell and Hamilton Southeastern’s Gary Harris, who is heading to Michigan State, did make it.
Hollowell told Peeps.com’s Jeff Rabjohns that, “Now everybody’s gonna have to pay for it on the court.”
Then he went out and made them pay.
Yeah, that’s the kind of player and attitude you want in a program retooling for national championship runs.
Yes, we said, "runs."
One last thing. Rivals.com has come out with a new list for its 2013 team recruiting rankings. IU’s group of Devin Davis (No. 93 nationally), Collin Hartman (No. 97) and Luke Fischer (No. 140) ranks sixth nationally, and fourth in the Big Ten.
North Carolina is No. 1. Michigan is No. 2. Purdue is No. 4. Illinois, which has a bit of coaching uncertainty with Bruce Weber’s status, is No. 5.