“There is no holy grail,” said Barnhart. “There isn’t a single metric. Each committee member looks at it through a different prism. “
The conference tournaments were no longer orderly. Not only were there barely any top seeds bagging automatic berths – only 11 out of 31 managed to win the regular season and tournament titles – but the committee also fought over where Kansas and Virginia should be placed if both teams could possibly miss important contributors when they can play at all. (Kansas Center David McCormack was banned from the Big 12 tournament three days before the Jayhawks were eliminated because of the coronavirus because another player tested positive.)
As it turned out, they both placed in the West region, which gave Gonzaga the possibility of a very clear path to the Final Four. Gonzaga seeks to become the first team since Indiana in 1976 to win a championship with a perfect season. The second seed in the west is Iowa, which Gonzaga passed after a 17-day hiatus in December.
The most stacked region seems to be the Midwest, where Illinois may have to drive through Loyola-Chicago or Georgia Tech, and then the dangerous state of Oklahoma to make it to the regional finals, where they hit the fiery state of San Diego, the harsh West Virginia or dynamic Houston.
At least these teams are there. It was a particularly gruesome turn for Louisville, the last boisterous team. Rick Pitino, who was fired from Louisville in 2017 as part of a federal corruption investigation that could result in NCAA sanctions Iona in the tournamentand plays No. 2 seed Alabama. And the selection committee chairman, Barnhart, is the sporting director at Louisville’s rival Kentucky.
The Cardinals’ only hope of reaching the tournament is to capitalize on someone else’s misfortune with the virus.
However, 68 teams are currently traveling directly from the location of their conference tournament to Indianapolis. If everything goes as hoped for Atlantic Coast Conference champion Georgia Tech, who left Atlanta on March 4th, he may be gone for more than a month.