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How to get your team to the NCAA tournament

February 11, 2009 |  1:20 pm

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive poses with Tim Tebow after the Florida quarterback was awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy for his performance in the SEC championship game.

Mike Slive's full-time job these days as Southeastern Conference commissioner, let there be no doubt, is issuing reprimands to first-year University of Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin.

In his spare time, though, Slive is serving as chair of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee, which selects and seeds the 65 schools that will compete in next month's tournament.

Slive took time out this week to explain how the selection process works. Or was it where it works? Or when?

Perhaps inspired by Abbott and Costello's famous "Who's on First" routine, Slive outlined for the media what he called the selection committee's "three Ws and an H."

Pay attention here, because your favorite school's tournament future depends on this.

Slive: "Who you played, the quality of competition; where you played, on the road, neutral sites; with whom did you play, was everybody healthy, available on either team; and how you played, talking about winning, and there's always discussion about what is a good loss."

Got it?

As this pertains to our local Pac-10 schools ...

UCLA hasn't played a great nonconference schedule, lost to Texas and Michigan, but the Bruins' dominance of late has them on the bracket rise. Winning the Pac-10 probably will put UCLA on the No.2 line, no worse than No. 3.

USC is a much more perplexing case. Slive doesn't talk about specific teams, but the Trojans are an NCAA bubble team with an interesting portfolio. USC is 15-7 overall and 6-4 in the Pac-10. The team's best nonconference win was against Georgia Tech, currently bringing up the rear of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Trojans, though, have some nonconference quality losses: to fast-rising Missouri in late November in Puerto Rico -- USC led by 10 in the second half -- and a one-point, early-December defeat at No. 2 Oklahoma.

If it comes down to net-cutting time for USC, will the NCAA consider its failures?

Slive: "As we talk about the teams, the quality of their season, their body of work, which includes some games that were very, very close, and maybe a close loss. There may have been an injury, there may have been a controversial call, there may have been a three-quarter-court, last-second shot. All of that weighs into the conversation. But there is no one thing that is going to make a change.


"But obviously a win is a heck of a lot better than a close loss."

So is your team going to make the tournament?

I don't know.

Wait, he's on third.

-- Chris Dufresne

Photo: SEC Commissioner Mike Slive poses with Tim Tebow after the Florida quarterback was awarded the most valuable player trophy for his performance in the SEC championship game. Credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images