Thursday, 1:05 PM
-- I don't know what made me think this, but I went to the Hyatt Regency first and looked for anything that said "Mock Selection." There was an NCAA Life Skills conference on the second and third floor, so I asked somebody at the ballroom reception where it was. "Who are you, and why do you want to know?" she asked back. I didn't think that Greg Shaheen and David Worlock
would go to those kinds of lengths to hide the event, and I wasn't warned about any kind of secret handshake. So I asked the front desk, and the guy said that he heard it was over at NCAA headquarters. This was just the media hotel.1:15 PM
-- Two blocks away is The Westin. On one magic March weekend every year, this is where they decide who lives and who dies.1:30 PM
-- So the entire event was indeed held at NCAA headquarters. I checked in at the front desk and got my badge, and then sat around while the other folks filed in. It was a mix of columnists (Gregg Doyel, Seth Davis and Jeff Goodman were there), as well as computer people and conference officials.1:40 PM
-- We entered The War Room.
This was a near-exact replica of the actual setup, except Mr. Shaheen noted that the space on The Westin's 15th floor doesn't have this much room. The tables are actually closer together, which allows for more conversation and camaraderie.
A lot was made about the realism of the snack cart. There was a selection of chips and chocolates, a coffee setup, and a wide array of sodas and bottled beverages. No Pepsi products were to be found.
There are 10 Selection Committee members
. Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
and I were representing Lynn Hickey
, athletic director at Texas-San Antonio. If she gets a snappy Final Four hat and a basketball-grain binder like we did, she's a lucky person. I always wanted one of those basketball-grain binders like the coaches have on the sidelines. Those are so awesome.
Each table setup includes three large screens: screen 1 is for automatic qualifiers (teams already in the Tournament), screen 2 is for reporting on the constant balloting going on, and screen 3 is a "discussion screen," where team sheets and nitty-gritty reports are shown -- mostly for head-to-head comparison purposes. There's also a slightly older laptop for personal use, upon which conference and team reports are available.1:50 PM
-- Opening remarks; Shaheen, Worlock and 2009 Selection Committee chairman Mike Slive
(commissioner of the SEC) spoke, and Shaneen told us to expect to be there until at least midnight. A big reveal that a second Mock Selection is to be held Friday, and that they'll be taking the show on the road to Bristol over the weekend to do a special event just for ESPN staffers. Pretty soon, people who haven't
been to a mock selection will be in the minority.
This is the third year of doing this, and the stated purpose is to demystify the procedure. The NCAA staffers said that every year, they heard writers and broadcasters discussing the minutiae of the brackets after the announcement and were frustrated that the media didn't really know what they were talking about.1:55 PM
(who's closing in on a decade of overseeing the day-to-day operations of the men's basketball championship) noted that this year, the Selection Committee will arrive in Indianapolis a day early, on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. The team returns nine starters, so they won't have to spend a lot of time explaining anything to each other. They're hoping to spend the extra time in case of contingencies; last year, Georgia winning the SEC made them build six provisional brackets on Sunday afternoon.2:10 PM
-- Overview of the building-blocks. One of the most important is the team sheet; the example given was Saint Joseph's.
One thing that really struck me was up in the top left corner, the first thing a committee member sees when scanning one of these. There's average RPI win
and average RPI loss
. That's not something that you can find on any website, is it? (Don't worry, we're on it this weekend.) SJU's average win of 170 makes its profile look a whole lot less impressive.
Wins and losses are broken down by opponent's RPI: 1-50, 51-100, etc. The lower two blocks are a graphical breakdown of all games by opponent RPI (red equals a loss, orange indicates an away game, green is home), and teal shading indicates nonconference. Games within a team's last 12 played are repeated at the bottom. Did I mention that opponent RPI is important?2:13 PM
-- General discussion ensued, everybody had a lot of questions. A few were about the emphasis on L12, or RPI, or strength of schedule. Slive said that it's a personal preference from one committee member to the next. Given that each of the 10 is human, each has spent individual basketball lifetimes building a different set of personal preferences as to what's important. This process a collective and subjective decision, he said, based on consensus. "No single category qualifies or disqualifies a team."2:15 PM
-- One thing that the NCAA staffers and Slive built immediate consensus on was that the "20-win season" has become completely meaningless. David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot News
, a very wise man, noted that the only people who bring that up any more tend to be coaches. Why not do a mock selection for them? There's just never a good time, Shaheen said.2:25 PM
-- Discussion about the protocol of "leaving the room" when one's team or conference is talked about. Slive said that committee members know when to take themselves out of the conversation, and there's never a statement like, "We want to talk about the SEC. Please leave." Their job isn't to advocate for teams or leagues, it's to provide in-depth information about them. Slive said that there's a "basketball committee culture we're all proud of."2:30 PM
-- Gregg Doyel brought up the flipside of that argument: doesn't Slive catch heat from SEC coaches like Bruce Pearl when schools from his conference get perceived bad seeding breaks or exclusions? Isn't there pressure to advocate for one's own team(s)? "Everybody understands what our roles are," Slive said calmly.2:36 PM
-- The simulation began at Wednesday of Championship Week. Each of the 10 groups reported on their watchlist leagues and put forward teams we felt were good enough to put in the at-large pool directly (column A/L) or place "under consideration" (column C)... or declared conferences as "AQ leagues," or automatic qualifiers only. Wally and I submitted the MEAC, Sun Belt and Badlands as AQ's, placed LSU, Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky in the A/L column, while Mississippi State and Tennessee went in with the C's.
Since Old Dominion won the CAA in our simulation, John Goodman and the MVC's Mike Kern (representing Dan Guererro of UCLA) declared it an AQ league.2:40 PM
-- Thought this might
come up... the injury situation at Saint Mary's. Shaheen said there's no set rules for an "injury exception," but that decisions are made by the group on the basis of a team's current state: if a student-athlete isn't available, he isn't available. The main question, and the one committee members have to keep in mind, is whether or not a team is one of the best 34 in the country, one of the top 11 percent. Everything is put to vote after vote, and people in the room certainly take sides. Shaheen brought up the famous example of Cincinnati's Kenyon Martin, who broke his leg in the 2000 Conference USA tournament. Cincinnati was not the same squad without him, that year's group concluded, but the rest of the team was good enough to be in the Tournament. So the Bearcats' seed number dropped.
Each vote, said Slive, is a private conclusion to a public discussion.3:02 PM
-- The nominations noted above, it should be noted, are not automatic entries into the at-large pool. So it was time to vote. There were initial ballots to fill out the A/L and C columns. The process is designed to separate "no-brainers" from the pack, and this is done by placing the teams with all but two eligible votes
in the A/L column going forward... remember that not all 10 members will get to vote on each entry due to conflicts, and that the threshold 8 of 10 for North Carolina and 7 of 9 for South Carolina (because Slive can't vote on an SEC team). One of the key parts of Wednesday, stated Shaheen, is to drop the teams with very little support -- two votes or fewer. The ones in the middle made up the C group. Shaheen pointed to the C column and said, "The longer this list is, the longer your weekend is."3:22 PM
-- Our initial vote put 18 in the A/L column with fewer than two anti-votes (in no particular order: Missouri, UCLA, Clemson, Illinois, North Carolina, Utah State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Villanova, Connecticut, Louisville, Wake Forest, Washington, Xavier, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Washington, Duke and Memphis), indicating a wide spectrum of dissonance. Shaheen was nonplussed, noting the the average first-ballot result was somewhere between 18 and 26.3:24 PM
-- Not that anybody actually did this, but Shaheen dropped a Highlander joke. "Voting for a team like NJIT will make you cool, and chicks will dig you. It's like writing in 'The Fonz' on your ballot. Because teams need two votes to survive, it'll be wiped out quickly." (Jeanne Boyd
, the men's basketball championship managing director, said: "Chicks will not dig you if you do that.")3:30 PM
-- Before we went too much further, Shaheen whiteboarded an overview of the entire five-day process. First, there's selection
, which is all about placing teams in the Tournament and adjusting the "in" group's size as the AQ's become known. This takes place from Wednesday to Saturday. Overlapping that is seeding
, which goes from Thursday to around 4 p.m. on Sunday. The committee will go back and forth between these two during the period's middle section, with the knowledge that these are two very separate events. Finally, there's bracketing
, which does not start until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. "'Selection' weekend is a bit of a misnomer," Shaheen said. "There are two other parts of the process too."3:52 PM
-- It turned out that Saint Joe's and Maryland were two teams with two votes, and it was time for those who voted for them to defend their selections. Goodman asked if first place in the A-14 counted for anything, but the group's look at their team sheet didn't sway anybody towards them. They were removed from the C group and placed on the "out" list.4:00 PM
-- It was the first of many,many iterations of this process: on our laptop screens, we were presented with the 45 teams in the C group and asked to pick eight. The point, said Shaheen, was that we were attempting to grow the A/L field.4:18 PM
-- California and West Virginia received the same number of votes and were tied for eighth, so we had an index card vote. West Virginia survived.4:38 PM
-- Then came the "Rank-8," a phrase very few of us have ever heard before in this context; perhaps even fewer know of its alternate title, the "cross-country." Again on our screens, we were presented a grid of the surviving eight C-group members (Arizona State, Dayton, Florida State, Ohio State, Purdue, Syracuse, Texas and West Virginia) and asked to rank them in order from best (1) to least good (8). For the next few minutes, people asked for side-by-side team page comparisons to be shown on the big screen.5:01 PM
-- Purdue, Cal, Utah, and Tennessee were moved into the at-large pool on account of receiving the highest rating among the 10 members. A lot of whispers around the room about how it's virtually impossible for a single person to overtly influence this process. Shaheen, hearing this chatter, added, "Also, note that none of you have talked about conferences."
Also notable was that some in the room were already running out of patience with the process. And that the entire preceding half-hour was a blur of color-coded white sheets, presented side-by-side. The system isn't set up for somebody to say, "Let's see a highlight reel of Dayton." We were clearly leaving the world of basketball and entering a realm of pure quantitative analysis.5:16 PM
-- As the votes continued, the time gaps between them became longer, and the huddles around the block of computers at the back was becoming more and more frenetic. It was clear that there were some programming problems -- our screens weren't refreshing with new ballots, there would be a "pick eight" screen with five teams on it, and the up-until date for team-page results was listed as "Tuesday, February 11."
While the technicians attempted to fix the problems, we discussed some of the finer points of selection. I asked about the old conspiracy theory that there's a CBS representative in the room who whispers suggestions about matchups. Shaheen pointed to the complexity of the process disallowing the input of any given entity, and told us that there's a CBS camera with no sound that monitors the room, and that a camera crew comes in on Thursday to shoot some "B-roll" footage of the committee members working.
Another topic was the recently struck language of "most deserving" in regards to at-large teams, in response to a clowny Doyel rant about how Davidson should be in due to their awesomeness. Shaheen said that "best" was subbed in because it's not the committee's duty to make subjective decisions like that. There are plenty of compelling stories all over D-I -- Iraq war veterans returning to play, basketball giving a young man the first-ever college degree in his family, etc. -- and "most compelling" is harder to calculate than "best team." Shaheen gave the example of the Oklahoma State plane crash of January 2001
... there were conference representatives on the committee that year, and they came to the realization that their obligation was to judge OSU's entire season. The Cowboys had a 49 RPI and a 19-8 record that year, and earned a No. 11 seed.5:30 PM
-- As our simulation continued, conference tournament results came in. American won the Patriot League over Holy Cross, and quarterfinals were set in the Big East, Big West, SEC and Conference USA. The SEC's four of Florida, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee made LSU a sudden tough sell.5:38 PM
-- Computer issues and extended conversations necessitated a nudge on the fast-forward button, so we moved to top-line seeding. The seeds are ordered 1 to 65 on an "S-curve," named so because it's shaped like an S. Nos. 1 through 4 make up the top line left to right, 5 is set below 4, back to 8 underneath 1. No. 9 is under 8 as the curve moves rightward again, and so on.6:00 PM
-- Voting on seed lines follows the same sort of procedure as selection, and votes are not set in stone and can be revisited if tourney results warrant, or if a motion to examine a team's placement is seconded and approved for floor discussion. First, the available teams that are "in" were put in a checkbox pick 'em, then the top eight selections were put in a Rank-8. Our top line ended up as North Carolina (the overall No. 1), Connecticut (despite some late-breaking injury news), Oklahoma and Pitt.6:15 PM
- More computer problems meant that it was time for dinner break. There were more vegetarian options than I thought there'd be: salad, breadsticks and some sort of meatless lasagna.7:00 PM
-- When we returned from dinner, we filled in the No. 2-seed line. The four holdovers from the No. 1 vote (Duke, Memphis, Louisville, Michigan State) were joined by four more from a pick-eight, and we came up with MSU at No. 5 overall, then Louisville, Duke and Clemson.
Shaheen bent time for us, stating that we were somewhere around Friday in terms of selection and Saturday in terms of conference tourneys... so two more AQ's came over the wire. Vermont won the America East, and Xavier survived the A-14. The latter moved X from the at-large pool to the automatic bid box.7:25 PM
-- More computer problems, and Shaheen started a series of stories about his problems with girls during his adolescence. A tale of his junior high school prom date ended with the punchline, "Thanks for getting me here, see you at the end of the night."7:30 PM
-- Our No. 3 seeds were, in order, Memphis, Villanova, and a tie between Wake Forest and Butler. A quick tiebreak sent Butler to the 11th overall seed. Finally, an admission from the folks in charge: this was new software, and we were being used as guinea pigs. As the technicians sorted out another issue with the seeding screen, Shaheen told us about his first tournament back in 2001, when the only computer in the room was his laptop connected to a dialup modem. Team sheets were printed out and covered the tables, and Shaheen estimated that at least 100,000 sheets of paper were used in the five days that year.7:32 PM
-- More AQ's: UC Riverside from the Big West was the most heartwarming due to its unprecedented nature (although the Highlanders won many at lower levels). Morgan State won the MEAC. We were at 22 AQ's, 27 at-larges, and nine AQ's were left to be announced. Because a number of the remaining AQ candidates were in the at-large field, Shaheen calculated that we'd need a minimum of seven more at-larges and a maximum of 12.8:00 PM
-- It was time to expand the at-large pool again. Of the 15 teams that were left over from previous at-large votes but had more than two votes' worth of support, we did another checkbox vote. The top eight moved on to a Rank-8, and the top four moved on. Those four were Florida, Miami (Fla.), LSU and Georgetown. I'd reached grid overload at about this point.8:16 PM
-- More conference tourney results: BYU beat Utah in the Mountain West, Arizona won the Pac 10, Boise State won at Nevada in the WAC final (Utah State was in the at-large field already, so no vote had to be taken on them -- a very important point). Arkansas-Pine Bluff won its first-ever SWAC championship; good for them. So that was 26 AQ's, 31 at larges, and five AQ's left to go.8:22 PM
-- Another at-large field bump, with Boston College, Davidson, Siena, South Carolina, Southern California, UNLV and Virginia Tech put into a Rank-8. After the vote, a realistic late-evening Selection Committee event: an ice cream break.8:35 PM
-- The final three on the in/out line are Kentucky, Siena and UNLV. Seth Davis introduced a motion to toss LSU from the at-large field, requesting that Siena and LSU be shown side by side on the big screen. This was the first flareup of a debate Shaheen said happens all the time: power-conference scheduling complacency versus mid-major struggles to build a decent schedule. But the vote was not "Siena in, LSU out," which is a key point... it was to toss LSU using Siena as an example of why LSU didn't belong. Such a vote (conducted on index cards) requires all but two eligible votes to pass, and the motion failed. The committee voted 5-4 to keep LSU, with virtual SEC commissioner Slive abstaining.9:03 PM
-- Back to seeding. With the No. 3 lines done, we voted on No. 4's. Illinois, Kansas and Ohio State were voted in order, with a three-way tiebreak between Gonzaga, Purdue and Florida State for the 16th overall seed. Florida State won.
It began to occur to me, as well as others in the room whispering amongst themselves, that 2009 might have the weakest 4, 5 and 6 lines ever. All a strong mid-major has to do is to get up beyond the No. 13 line, and there are some really nice opportunities there. Of course, nobody will remember how weak the field is in 10 years... they'll remember the wins.9:25 PM
-- Two of the Sunday games are called: Stephen F. Austin in the Southland, and Florida in the SEC. Florida moved from the at-large list to the AQ group, which meant that UNLV moved from the borderline list to "in" on account of the ACC game pitting two at-large teams against each other (North Carolina and Miami), guaranteeing a move. Siena didn't know it, but its fate hung on the Big Ten game between Michigan State and Minnesota. If Michigan State (an at-large team) won, Siena was in. If Minnesota, not in the at-large pool, emerged victorious, the Gophers would jump up out of the abyss and take the last spot, leaving the Saints in the NIT.9:40 PM
-- Mike DeCourcy, perhaps using pure rhetorical power, asks around about how many teams from each conference are in. Nobody can answer... we're so locked into team sheets and nitty gritty reports that none of us can remember who belongs to what. We have to go to the board and count: eight Big East teams, eight ACC teams. Point taken: everyone's lost track of which leagues are being served.9:50 PM
-- More computer problems: big ones. Stephen F. Austin, Robert Morris and Fairfield are showing up on the S-curve in No. 6 seed position, and the techs have no idea how to get them out. Another long break as journalists start talking to each other, building the kind of consensus about certain teams and players that will become tomorrow's conventional wisdom. This is how it works.10:10 PM
-- The final results are in: Michigan State won the Big Ten, and Siena was indeed the last team in. North Carolina beat Miami in the ACC, but they both were in anyway.10:15 PM
-- Because we lost so much time, the rest of the seed lines were filled out by the NCAA reps, based on straight RPI. This is obviously not not not
how it works in real life: it's pick-eight followed by rank-eight, over and over until the S-curve is filled out. But we had our final 65, and a completed S-curve. Green text meant conference champions, black for at-larges.
Important to bring up the fact that Siena was the last in, but would normally be seeded in the same way that everyone else was: pick eight, rank eight, best four go on the seed line.10:45 PM
-- And then on to the final phase: bracketing. This normally takes an hour, according to Shaheen, and it's always the final final final thing the committee does. With the pod system, enacted after 2001 when Maryland fans were forced to spend nearly $10,000 each in travel to follow their team to each championship site, the Rule of 17 applies. Because each region's 1/16 and 8/9 pair play each other in the second round, they have to be sent to the same subregional. It's the same with the other seed pairs, creating a neat mathematical gestalt. Each pair adds up to the same number.
-- Top-top seed North Carolina was put in the Memphis bracket, the closest geographically, and were given the extra treat of playing the first two rounds at Greensboro. Connecticut was put on a path through Philadelphia and Boston, two short drives. Oklahoma was sent on a course to the Glendale/Phoenix regional, and was granted Kansas City as a first stop. Pittsburgh was given Dayton as a first-round destination, on course for the Indianapolis regional. As soon as their first/second round sites were decided, the other 17-Rule seeds were listed as going there too.
There are lots of little rules: the first three teams in a conference are separated regionally, so as not to cannibalize a league's success. The top five seeds are not to be put at a crowd disadvantage for the first round, protection that doesn't last past that initial game. As we use the snappy new software, dragging and dropping teams onto the bracket and being warned with red banners whenever a rule is broken, we run into our first example of the latter issue.
Pittsburgh's prospective second-round opponent would be Xavier, a very short 55-mile walk from Dayton.11:09 PM
-- Shaheen claimed that the NCAA Tournament is the largest short-term travel operation in North America, and there was no reason not to believe him.11:11 PM
-- Somebody, and I forget who because it was really late, asked about releasing the S-curve to the public. Shaneen said they've thought about it, but it was a way to protect some of the hard decisions the committee had to make. "You have to grind this thing out until it gets done," he said. "But we have nothing to hide. This is really how the process works."11:35 PM
-- Finally to my favorite topic, the Opening Round game a/k/a the Notorious PIG. Both teams that are sent to Dayton are granted a full NCAA Tournament "unit": $185,000 a year to the conference paid out over six years, for a total value of $1.1 million. Whichever team wins the game gets another unit, as all winning teams do. So, said Shaheen, if the winner in Dayton advances to the Final Four, it gets one more unit than the others. Go SWAC go!
Another thing about the Dayton game is that it's not automatic that the No. 1 overall seed gets the PIG winner. This season, there's a first/second round pod in Dayton, so in our model Pittsburgh (the overall No. 4) got to play the winner of IUPUI/Arkansas-Pine Bluff.12:10 AM
-- There are two western first/second round sites, Boise and Portland, and we didn't have any western teams until No. 17 on the S-curve. So there's a lot of travel for some unlucky No. 4 seeds: Xavier had to start in Potatoland, and Kansas got sent to Rip City. The screen shows the distances (based on Mapquest, not crows flying) from campus to the sites, so the committee can quickly decide which is the best and most prudent route.
Do you know why all Pacific time zone sites are automatically Thursday/Saturday? Tickticktickticktick...12:28 AM
-- As our exercise closed, we ran into a few of the decisions that keep the S-curve hidden from public scrutiny. Teams from the same conference up to eight are protected from playing their conference rivals until at least the regional final. Virginia Tech, the seventh ACC team, was blocked from every site as a S-curved No. 10 seed, so the Hokies were moved up to No. 9 to avoid those conflicts. As a result, Utah State moved from a No. 9 to No. 10. BYU was moved up from a No. 11 to No. 10 because there were no No. 11's that didn't play Sunday (Shaheen said that in 2003, when the committee put the Cougars on course to play on Sunday, it was a result of a last-minute seedline move, and nobody in the room saw it until everyone's pagers blew up during the selection show.)
Cornell moved up from a 12 to an 11 because of similar conflicts. And finally, the last puzzle piece for the second time yesterday, Siena slid into a Boise subregional. After last year's BracketBuster
, we didn't think they'd mind that too much.Here's our full bracket (PDF)
.✶ ✶ ✶ ✶
The NCAA Tournament is played out over 10 days: four full 12-hour 'thons to break 64 down to 16 over the first weekend, followed by Thursday and Friday evening regional semis, four standalones over two weekend days, then a Final Four and a final game. All told, that's roughly 78 hours of action. To build the bracket, the Selection Committee spends roughly five 16-hour days convening in an Indianapolis hotel room leading up to Selection Sunday.
Now, I want you to take a step back, consider and digest the following concept, something you've probably never even thought of thinking about before.It takes just as long to make it as it does to play it.
Granting at-large bids was a devil's bargain all along. Moving away from a tournament of champions, and yielding that certain conferences had more than one title-capable team grew the bracket was the first step towards this mess. Then the gigantism kicked in when the NCAA realized that it had a money machine on its hands.
Most of the people who were responsible for making these decisions back in the 1970's and 1980's are either retired or dead. The bracket is now so complicated, so convoluted, so intricate that it requires logician/geniuses like Shaheen and Worlock to beat it back into submission with an endless list of rules, regulations and standards. Both are brilliant men, king minds of the highest order. They've created the antidote for a disease the NCAA invented for itself three decades ago, when it made itself sick by eating too many octopi.
The selection exercise was the most eye-opening, incredible experiences I've had in my relatively short career as a member of the sportserati. It was a glance into the overwhelming responsibility that these 10 people have every March, with millions of dollars and the interest of an entire nation on the line. But be sure of this: there was very little basketball in that room, and even less poetry. For a game that features the pure simplicity of propelled ball up into a raised goal, followed by the placid swish
, that's plenty ironic.✶ ✶ ✶ ✶Another thing, this time about the prediction industry. I've been pretty low on office pools to begin with, but this experience has cemented an intense dislike for "Bracketology" in all its forms and variants, where before there was a cold ambivalence.
The biggest takeaway from the 11 hours detailed above is that selection, seeding and bracketing is a team event, subject to the laws and policies of any flawed clusterhump groupthink. It's definitely not a sudoku puzzle. In order to properly replicate the process, the prospective bracketologist is invited to find nine other like-minded people and spend five days locked in a room hashing it all out (daily ice cream deliveries optional). The "science" as it's currently practiced, the pre-filled backet, is not too far removed from the preference-based form submitted in Wednesday's initial balloting. You've only just begun.
Further to that point, any and all references to "The Committee" as some kind of mind-melded entity (a wholly misguided one, most likely) are wasted words. I think it's an error in human wiring that we're capable of putting the acts of collectives on par with those of individuals; many are comfortable considering the decisions of groups as coming from a single granular point, and not from the complex internal-debate engines they really are. "Congress," for instance, or the "shareholders of Ford," or the "Pawtucket City Council."
This is the imperfect process we have to live with, and I'm happy I saw the compressed reality-show version up close. Knowing what I know now, when the bracket comes out on March 15, I'm not going to spend time trying to figure out why Team X is included, why Team Y isn't, or cavil over seed lines or shake my fist to the heavens over a perceived lack of fairness. I'm going to shrug, get back in my rental car, and try like hell to make Dayton by Tuesday.
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