Transcript: ESPN Media Call with Bracketologists Joe Lunardi and Charlie Creme

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Transcript: ESPN Media Call with Bracketologists Joe Lunardi and Charlie Creme

ESPN bracketologists Joe Lunardi (men’s college basketball) and Charlie Creme (women’s college basketball) discussed their predictions for the upcoming NCAA Tournaments this morning as Selection Sunday and Selection Monday approach. A transcript of the call is available below.

Q: Charlie, I was going to ask you about the Cal women’s team.  I think in your latest bracket you’ve got them in that 8‑9 game.  What do you like about their resume and kind of the eye test what you see from them this season? 

Charlie Creme (CC):  Well, the good wins they have are good, but they mostly have struggled against the upper echelon teams that they’ve played, and they didn’t exactly dominate the teams in maybe the lower half of the Pac‑12 that perhaps they should have.  So the overall record is certainly not great.  I mean, the great start they had in the nonconference has carried them quite a bit throughout most of the conference season.

But picking up that win over Stanford was huge because they were really slipping, and that sort of let them hang on.  And I definitely see them in that 8‑9 range.  In fact, I’m pretty sold on them as an 8 right now, and I don’t ‑‑ I certainly don’t see anything higher than that.  That overall record is just not enough to get over the hump, and not quite doing enough in the Pac‑12 tournament.  If they’d have been a little bit more competitive with Stanford, perhaps.  Not that they weren’t in the game, but the end result was they were never really a threat to win it.  I think that would have been the only chance they would have had to give themselves a better seed.

Q: I’m just wondering about star power. Does the committee consider much a player like Kristine Anigwe when they’re looking at teams for the bracket? 

CC:  No. It’s about results. It’s about who you played and how you did against that schedule.  I know that’s something that people tend to point to ‑‑ you know, we’re going to put stars in the tournament, but it’s never really happened.  There’s enough examples where star players didn’t make the tournament, and it’s because it’s really just about their team and their results.  It’s nice to have them in the tournament for sure, and Kristine will be in the tournament this year, but it’s not a factor for the committee, no.

Q: Buffalo’s been a consistent 6 seed in recent days.  In the men’s bracket, what could move Buffalo up, and what could move Buffalo down? 

Joe Lunardi (JL): I’d say they’re more likely to move down because any loss that they would suffer at this point would probably be seen more in the bad loss category by the committee whereas there aren’t really any great wins for them to get in the MAC tournament. So I’ve kind of set their over‑under at like 6 1/2 in terms of seeding, and maybe because I’m a little biased to their story, I keep slotting them as a 6, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were a 7.  I think anything outside of that range on the negative end would be an error by the committee, and on the positive end, would just kind of go against longstanding committee treatment of teams like them.  And there isn’t a lot of history of teams like them, but this is about where they fall.

Q: All right. And my next question is for Charlie.  The Buffalo women ‑‑ I saw your latest bracket release.  They’re listed as an 11.  What qualifies Buffalo as a tournament team this year in the women’s tournament? 

CC:  Quite honestly, what qualifies them is the rest of the country not being good enough.  I think in some years they wouldn’t be a consideration for the field, but a MAC team with nine losses typically is not an at‑large type candidate, but there’s been a lot of losing going on, including Buffalo, in the last couple of weeks amongst teams that were considered bubble teams just in, just out. What’s carrying them really is the MAC has been stronger, at least in the top half this year, and that provides them with a top 30 RPI ‑‑ or top 40 RPI, I should say, in the high 30s right now.  And that’s a great starting spot for the committee.  They’re going to group teams.  And then they have that win over South Dakota State, and South Dakota State, also a mid‑major, but has an even better seed, and that was on a neutral floor.  So that’s helping carry them over.  That’s the little bit of distance we’re talking about.  That’s carrying them over maybe some other bubble teams. The loss to Kent State in the regular season finale was not good and very hurtful, and if that happens again in the first round of the tournament for them, then I think you can take them out of the field.  That’s just too many bad losses in too short a period of time to keep them in the field even with a weaker bubble.

Q: Joe, we talked, I think, in January about South Carolina’s kind of unique resume.  They were beginning to build at that point.  Here they are now with 11 SEC wins as they head to the SEC Tournament.  Anything short of winning the tournament, do the Gamecocks have a shot at an at‑large bid?  And what do you think Clemson needs to do in the ACC Tournament to secure their spot? 

JL:  Anything short of winning, I think they will come up short.  Are there scenarios where we could get them more in the conversation with a couple wins, the right path, et cetera?  I just don’t think they’ve won enough of the right games to be realistically in the conversation at this point.  The committee has gotten wiser over the years at looking at these unbalanced schedules in leagues, and the 11‑7 just isn’t going to carry the weight that it may have kind of blindly carried or rolled out a bit of a red carpet for them in the past. I think, when we talked during the season, the example of Nebraska last year at 13‑5 not only not getting into the NCAA Tournament, they didn’t even get into the top half of an NIT bracket.  So I’m not optimistic about South Carolina at this point.

Q: And then Clemson’s path, what do you think? Is their goal, I guess mission, this week in Charlotte to sneak in there?

JL:  Yeah, I have to be clear.  Clemson is one of those teams where, if I were voting, it differs from what I’m projecting.  There’s little or no circumstance that I would vote Clemson in at this point with a 1‑9 record against the first quad.  The ACC clearly this year has haves and have nots with maybe Clemson and NC State with a foot in each camp, and both have really built up their 9‑9 records against the bottom half of the league.  If you can’t win some games against other tournament level teams, then I don’t know how realistically you can be considered a tournament team. But until the committee leaves out a .500 ACC team, then I have to project what I think they’re going to do.  That makes today’s game enormous, obviously, between Clemson and NC State.  I think the winner will get in the tournament and the loser will not.  If it were me, I would want to see the winner of this game win another game minimally because to me neither Clemson or NC State is a credible at‑large ‑‑ for different reasons:  Clemson because of its record against good teams, and NC State because it would be the worst strength of schedule in history in the at‑large universe, I dare say men’s or women’s.  Charlie can jump in on that, but when you’re .353 out of .353, I’m pretty safe with that statement in NC State’s case.

CC:  There’s never been a .353 in the women’s either, we can safely say that.

JL:  Yeah, nor should there be.  And this is interesting ‑‑ let me jump in there. NC State has the most good fortune maybe on either men’s or women’s side ever with the switch to NET on the men’s side because their NET is 32 and their RPI is 103.  So we wouldn’t be having this conversation ‑‑ and frankly, someone should write a story about why the NET is good enough to be used for men and the women are still with the RPI.  But I’ll leave that to smarter people above my pay grade.

Q: My question actually is about RPI, and I wanted to ask Joe Lunardi on the men’s side. Obviously, NC State’s one, but if he could think of any other teams who are going to be affected, either positively or negatively, by the abandonment of RPI this year and whether he generally thinks it’s for the good although it sounds like he does.

JL: Well, I mean, there’s teams on both sides that have quite a disparity.  For instance, I’m based in Philly, and you’ve got Temple with an RPI around 30 and a NET around 50.  So they’re worried, and rightfully so, and they wouldn’t be worried a year ago.  Arizona State, 67 NET versus 38 RPI, same deal.  Then you’ve got the NC States of the world that are only in the conversation because of NET.  Maybe the same with Indiana, which is around 50 and is 85 on the RPI. To me, the question isn’t which system is better.  I think the positives of NET outweigh the positives of RPI, but the teams that are going to miss because they plan their year with RPI as the metric found out in August that it wasn’t the metric after their schedules were done for the most part.  So I think they have a legitimate beef, and I expect considerable gnashing of teeth over that in one or two or three places. Then if NC State makes it, they’re going to wink, smile, and say we told you so.

Q: What are the positives of NET that you believe outweigh the positives of RPI? 

JL:  I think RPI for the most part measures who you played and NET is at least an attempt to measure how you played.  So three‑quarters of the RPI is arithmetic based on the winning percentage of your opponent.  So it’s more of a schedule strength measure than a quality of play measure.  Your wins and losses are only 25 percent of the formula.  Now, NET’s formula has been withheld to this point, and it’s supposed to have an artificial intelligence component and a sliding scale of different things and measure quality of play and quality of opponent and efficiency and site of game and the barometric pressure of North Dakota and everything else in there. And I think, by and large, eyeballing it, it has been better than the RPI at measuring good versus bad teams, but I think, when it was rolled out, the way it was rolled out, and the lack of, frankly, transparency about it is not a good thing for the sport.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about Tennessee’s chances and just kind of what factors are at play there.

CC:  Well, I think you can almost realign the conversation I had about Buffalo in terms of this Tennessee team would not be in the mix, I think, in a different year and in a different set of circumstances.  But there’s just not a lot else to pick from, quite honestly, from the teams that I have been discussing and just the in or just out categories for some time now.  Most of them have lost, lost maybe multiple times.  They’ve seen their metric numbers plummet as a result.  And despite the fact that Tennessee is 57 in the RPI and had a losing SEC record and had some head scratching to borderline ‑‑ not borderline.  Losing to Vanderbilt, that’s inexplicable.  But they’re staying in it largely because there’s just nobody else there to grab the spot. I had them out, and I thought they were toast, and then about four other teams ‑‑ TCU, USC, West Virginia ‑‑ then Tennessee beating LSU in the SEC Tournament also off the bat really.  I’m having a hard time finding a scenario that Tennessee will be left out.  They do have six top 50 wins.  Some of those can be taken with a little bit of a grain of salt as to what does it really need to be to beat a team in the top 50?  Because some of those teams are also just pretty average.  And the win over Texas doesn’t look as good now as it did when it happened, but it’s a win over Texas that so much of the competition does not have, and it’s that kind of margin that, I think, is putting Tennessee in the field and not some other teams.

Q: Regarding Iowa State’s chance, Big 12 tournament always has an impact. They won it a few times, maybe helped them out a line or two. What type of scenarios would have to unfold at the Big 12 with Baylor, Kansas State, possibly a championship game?  Can there be much fluidity based on looks like they’re at about a 7 now? 

JL:  I think, if we ever really studied it, we’d see that the impact of conference tournaments on seeding is generally overblown.  I can think of a couple of examples where ‑‑ over the years where it appeared that the committee didn’t even have cable in their room and that they missed like some significant results in evaluating certain teams, but I also understand the flip side of that, which is we’re talking about a pie with like 30 to 35 slices in it and we’re only talking about 2 or 3 of those slices in making an evaluation.  And the committee’s made it clear in recent years that a game on November 13 is just as important as a game on March 13. Now, I don’t happen to agree with that because I think how you’re playing today matters because four months is a long time and teams get better or they get worse, but that’s not the methodology right now.  So that’s a long way of saying I don’t think Iowa State is going to move a ton, you know, short of winning every game, and even that, I don’t think it would do the more than a line or two at the most.

Q: And then a quick question for Charlie. Is it possible the Iowa State women’s, second in the Big 12, second in the Big 12 tournament, played Baylor tough, possible to nudge up past that 4 line to a 3, or does it look pretty much set in stone that the Iowa State women are a 4?

CC:  I think they’re a 4.  I don’t see them getting any higher than that.  I’m largely basing that on, quite honestly, on what the committee told us in the last reveal.  They had them in that 14‑15 spot.  Nothing that’s happened since then, for them or for some of the teams around them, has changed so dramatically that there would be a big enough swing to get them to 12 overall, except for the jump of Syracuse and the jump of Miami to some degree. There was a little bit of a gap, I think, between Iowa State and some of those teams in the 11‑12 range overall that would put them in a position to be a 3, and I don’t think they’ve overcome that since then.  So I think you’re looking at a 4, and it could end up ‑‑ the way I’m looking at it now, it could end up out West.  It could be in Portland, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.  A 3 might have put them in Chicago, which I think is going to shape up to be a little bit tougher regional. Portland looks like it might be the softest of the 4, just because a lot of this is based on geography and there aren’t as many teams in the western part of the country.  So you get generally that West region or whatever it is is a little bit easier to navigate maybe ‑‑ not that any of them are easy, but I think that Iowa State might actually benefit from being a 4 and being out there than if they were a higher seed in a different region.

Q: Charlie, what are your thoughts on the Rice Owls’ at‑large possibilities, and have you heard anything about the committee switching away from RPI in the future? 

CC:  I’ll start with Rice. They’re an interesting team because their RPI is very good, and they’ve dominated their conference. The flip side is they don’t have a single top 50 win, and typically for a, quote, unquote, mid‑major team, even with the dominance in their league, the committee likes to see some kind of win outside the conference or have a second place team that’s also decently rated within the RPI.  So I honestly think ‑‑ and this would be the year that they could sneak in as I talk about the bubble being pretty weak, but I still think they might have trouble getting in when your best win is Middle Tennessee State if they don’t win Conference USA’s tournament despite that dominance.  I would see them just on the outside looking in. That might be a sad statement as to the way the process works.  I might put them in personally, but as Joe has said, sometimes what I would do and what I think the committee will do are different.  Sometimes just slightly, but different enough that I think this might be one of those cases. And as far as switching the metrics and doing something a little bit differently, all the committee has said to us is they are investigating, and they’ve been doing it now for two years, looking into some kind of transition to whether it be the NET or ‑‑ even my thing would be I don’t care if you use the NET or I don’t care if you use RPI, but I would like a quad system a little more built around the men where better emphasis is put on road wins, neutral site wins, than what we have now where everything is kind of the same.  That would be ‑‑ if I was committee god for the day, that would be the switch I would make, and I wouldn’t get as much hung up on which metric is used.

Q: And real quick, if I may, question for Joe. Joe, is there any chance for the Houston Cougars to get to a 2 seed?

JL: A chance, yes.  I don’t see it happening.  I just think that, for better or worse, there’s kind of a ceiling now for teams outside the Power 5 and the Big East ‑‑ I know the American’s Power 6 logo and all that.  But the teams that are ahead of Houston on the 2 line right now ‑‑ Duke, Michigan State, Tennessee, and LSU ‑‑ they’re just not going to pile up the quad 1 wins that would get them there. And, again, maybe they’re going to really go by the letter of NET, where Houston is on the border between a 1 and a 2.  I just think it’s unlikely.

Q: Joe, right now you have both North Carolina and Duke headed to Columbia for the opening round in South Carolina.  I think people around here obviously are excited about a player like Zion.  How likely do you see that will happen this weekend? 

JL: I think one of them will be there for sure.  If Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed ‑‑ remember, new procedure in effect.  They actually get to pick where they want to go.  And Columbia is actually a little closer, by 30, 40 miles, according to Rand McNally. I don’t think Rand is on the committee but is a big factor in this.  Columbia’s about that much closer. I keep putting them in Columbus, Ohio, and that’s not because I have inside information on what they would pick.  It’s just my gut is telling me that they won’t want to be where all the Carolina and Duke fans are, that they’ll happily take a pass that gets them to D.C. for the second weekend without ever going too far south. But I guess the bottom line is I believe there will be two ACC teams in Columbia unless Tennessee gets back to the top line because they would prefer that also and they would like to be at an SEC site, where they have some familiarity, which is a great way of saying I have no idea.

Q: And my next question was about Wofford.  Just what do you see as the upper limits of their seed? 

JL:  I have them as a 7.  I would love to see them as a 6.  I don’t think it’s going to happen.  I think it’s more likely that they’ll be in an 8‑9 game based upon how the committee has looked at situations like this in the past, but I’m going to be stubborn because I think they’re better than that.

 Q: Just wondering what you think Alabama and Florida need to do this week at the SEC Tournament in order to get bids. Just how much ‑‑ one win, two wins, or how far they are?

JL:  I think in Florida’s case they can get there with one win, provided there aren’t too many more St. Mary’s happening.  In Alabama’s case, I think they need two wins to realistically back in the serious conversation.

Q: Minnesota appears to be safely into the tournament heading into the Big Ten tourney, but what happens if the Gophers lose to Penn State in their first game? Would that put them in danger?

JL: I think it would make for a very long three or four days because a lot of people will probably be down on them because they would have won, what, like three of the last however many, and to the eye test, they strike you as a team with talent that doesn’t play very consistently.  So I could see them sliding into the Dayton First Four grouping if they lose. It’s a very dangerous game, actually, because Penn State’s pretty good.  You know, they’re kind of like the opposite of some of these other middle teams from the power leagues in that they just ‑‑ they had a couple games go against them or they’d be more like 17‑14 instead of 14‑17, and they’d be in the field because their numbers are pretty good and they’ve been winning lately.  I think they might even be favored in this game. But, yes, Minnesota will be questionable if they lose, but the flip of it is it’s a better win than you think if they do prevail.

Q: Joe, just wondering what you think Indiana needs to do this week in the Big Ten Tournament to feel more comfortable, I guess, about their chances to earn an at‑large bid.  I was checking your latest bracketology, and you’ve currently got them as one of the First Four, along with Ohio State, who they’re playing Thursday. 

JL:  I think the winner of that game will go back into the field.  Ohio State was in the field and actually was the team that was last on our board and got bumped by St. Mary’s last night.  I want to make it clear to the good people of Indiana that I think they’re good enough, but I think in general we need to do a better job of rewarding winning, and I just have a hard time with 8‑12 in both their case and Ohio State’s.  Now, that’s if I was voting. I think one of those two minimally will make it, and it’s obviously pretty hard to ignore Indiana’s two wins over Michigan State, which won the league and could win this conference tournament and still be a 1 seed.  Of course, when they’re deciding, Indiana‑Michigan State wouldn’t yet have won, if they’re going to win the conference tournament, but I think if you’re going to jump up and down for great wins, you also have to recognize five‑game losing streaks and seven‑game losing streaks, which I think is what Indiana has. They’re the classic how do we handle the middling major versus the Belmonts of the world?  I wouldn’t vote for Indiana or Ohio State, but I think the committee will.

Q: Joe, I wanted to ask you about Duke and what they have to do in Charlotte this week. I know they’re on the 2 line right now. If Zion comes back and plays tomorrow night, do they have to win this thing to be a 1 seed, or what’s your thought on what they have to do? 

JL:  I don’t think they have to win it to be a 1 seed, but I think they have to beat Carolina in the semis because, with or without Zion, if they go 0‑3 against the Tar Heels, I don’t see how you can make them a 1 seed ahead of them.  And my opinion is, if they do beat them with him, then that almost counteracts the two losses which occurred largely without him.  And I think the kind of default setting of the committee and a lot of us is, with him, they’re clearly one of the four best teams in the country, if not the best team in the country.  So he needs to show, his sneakers need to stay intact, and then all will be right with their world.

Q: Joe, you mentioned that Tennessee may be getting to a 1 seed and being in Columbia. I’m wondering, as of now, you have Kentucky as a 1 seed. How solid is that?  Depending on whatever happens in the SEC Tournament. 

JL:  Not solid because, A, they could lose.  B, the prospect of Duke reasserting itself and owning a pretty significant head‑to‑head victory over Kentucky, which admittedly was a long time ago, but it’s still on the board and can’t be ignored.  And I’m going to still say nobody’s really talking about Michigan State as a possible 1, but I think in this year’s Big Ten, if you win both titles, you at least got to get some serious discussion to get up to that top line with the understanding that the committee sometimes isn’t fully embracing those late Sunday games in the evaluation or bracketing process, but the rest of us pay attention. I think there’s basically three scenarios for two spots on the top line.  Virginia is going to be a 1.  No matter what people are saying about last night, Gonzaga is going to be the 1 in the West.  So that leaves an ACC spot ‑‑ Duke‑Carolina in my view ‑‑ an SEC spot, and the Michigan State Wild Card.  I do not think LSU can be the SEC spot, even though that would mean winning both titles.  I just have a hard time seeing them putting LSU on the first line for a lot of reasons at this point.

Q: And that kind of feeds into my follow‑up question. How well over the years do you think the committee has done in balancing the strengths of each ‑‑ you know, the regions against each other, and how plausible is it that the committee might try to thwart a team such as LSU this year to try to prevent them from advancing to the grand stage?

JL:  I think they do a way better job at balancing the top of the region than people give them credit for, and I’m generally not in the position of giving them credit for the things that we’re supposed to be critiquing.  But the true seed balancing system that they use from the seedless generally prevents regions from being way out of balance.  Invariably, Jerry, someone will look at big name teams all in one region and go, oh, that region is loaded, but then if I go back or anybody goes back and looks at the true seed numbers of how they split them up, oftentimes, those regions are weaker or not as stacked as the naked eye would suggest. Then let’s take into account the other issue, which is once you get past those first few games of the ‑‑ you know, against the 15s and the 16s, who while they do win occasionally, which is pretty rare, pretty much every game after that is a 50‑50 game.  So trying to say, all right, we don’t want an LSU at the Final Four, well, number one, they won’t seed them in a way to punish them.  There are other committees at the NCAA that will get their chance at that if it comes to pass.  And, two, stuff happens, and it would just as likely work against them as work for them due to the randomness of the tournament.

Q: I’m wondering if in future years you could ever see the Ivy League becoming a two‑bid conference in the NCAA Tournament, and also how you think the Ivy League tournament affects the likelihood of that possibility.

JL:  Well, I know what they think.  They think that going to a tournament improved their chances for a second bid someday.  I remember writing about this with some modest data analysis whenever it was that it was decided that there would be an Ivy League tournament.  The data was inconclusive.  It actually slightly favored the possibility of a second bid by keeping things the way they were.  I don’t remember exactly why or what the tipping point was, so probably better to just say that it was inconclusive. It’s going to be hard for the Ivy League to ever get a second bid, the same way it is for other leagues like them, like the Southern Conference or the Ohio Valley, you know, or the Mid‑American or the Colonial, teams that are ‑‑ leagues that are maybe between 10 and 15 in the pecking order of conferences.  It’s not the Ivy League tournament.  It’s the fact that the percentage of at‑large bids being awarded to the power leagues is going up pretty much every year, and the piece of the pie that’s left for everybody else is shrinking.  So they could stand on their head and play best of sevens for an elimination or automatic qualifier process, and it wouldn’t change the fact that the blue bloods are controlling the dance.

Q: I was wondering if you could tell me if you think Temple is in already and what do you think happens if they do lose their first game in the quarterfinal of the AAC tournament?

JL:  Do I think they’re in?  Having missed on them a few years ago as one of my misses with a pretty good resume, I thought, at the time, I’m not going to say that they’re in in, and it makes me a little bit nervous.  They could still play Wichita State, right, which is hot right now? If they play East Carolina and lose, it’s their own fault.  If they play Wichita State and lose, then they’re in that here we go for 72 hours of agony or however many hours it is.  I think they’re a tournament team.  I believe that they are in, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they end up in Dayton if they don’t win this game.  If they win this next game and they don’t make the tournament, then that’s just an error by the committee in my view.

Q: So you definitely think, even if they have to go to Dayton and they lose the first game, they could still be in unless it’s to East Carolina?

JL:  Correct.  Correct.  So like when that East Carolina‑Wichita State game’s going on, like if I’m a Temple person, what am I rooting for here?  The easier opponent or the one that could be a disaster, right?  It’s a risk/reward kind of thing.

Q: Where do you see Michigan falling in the seed line if they’re able to win the Big Ten Tournament? And where do you think they would be if they do not win the Big Ten Tournament?

JL:  I think their range is 2 or 3.  I have them as the highest 3 now and LSU as the weakest 2 because I think that’s what the committee would do here with LSU having won the regular season of the SEC or a share of it.  Personally, I think Michigan’s a 2, to my eyes, and I think with a couple wins here at the Big Ten, that’s where they’ll eventually end up, but no worse than a 3.  Is there really that much of a difference, right?  I mean, you’re talking about a potential Sweet 16 game, 2 versus 3, where the only difference is what color uniform you’re wearing.  I mean, the teams that they play ‑‑ 14, 15, and more realistically after that, 6 or 7, you know, it’s more match‑ups than level of opponent at that point.

Q: You touched on this a little bit earlier. You were talking about Kentucky. But wondering about Michigan State’s path to the No. 1 seed, the champion event, if they win the Big Ten Tournament, and then what else might have to happen around the country for that to happen? 

JL:  I think three things have to happen for Michigan State to be a 1 seed, and it would go in this order, I suppose.  One, Kentucky losing before the championship game of the SEC Tournament, preferably, for Michigan State’s case, to someone other than Tennessee.  Two, Michigan State has to win the Big Ten Tournament, and, three, the committee still has to be working and building brackets late in the afternoon on Sunday to reflect that.  I’m not sure which of those three scenarios is the least likely. I could see them as No. 5 overall regardless of whether they win or lose that championship game on Sunday depending what happens elsewhere.

Q: And quick follow‑up, is 2 their floor, or do you see them slipping to a 3 under any scenario?

JL:  I do not see them slipping to a 3.

 Q: Wofford may have spoiled this, but does the Southern Conference deserve an at‑large bid, and has Furman done enough to claim one?

JL:  Well, I’m always reluctant to say a conference has earned anything because clearly it’s teams, not leagues, that are evaluated.  Number one, a team ‑‑ the conference that a team is in doesn’t even appear on their team sheet in the committee room, and, two, their conference record doesn’t appear on the team sheet either.  Having said that, if I were to rank the at‑large candidates in the Southern Conference, I would actually place Greensboro ahead of Furman because they beat them in the conference tournament, for one thing, and, two, they finished two games ahead of them in the regular season. So I think that that part would be easy. In Furman’s case, what you’re really saying is there would have to be three teams in from the Southern Conference for them to make it, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that’s not going to happen.


Anna Negron

It was always a dream of mine to work at ESPN, and here I am! I joined the College Sports PR team in March 2016. Hailing from the great Garden State, I graduated from Seton Hall University (Go Pirates!) with a degree in sport management, where I not only sang the National Anthem at games, but was also a member of the Seton Hall Sapphires Dance Team and a student reporter for Pirate Sports Network. Before joining ESPN, I served as a Public Relations Associate for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
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