The selection committee never sleeps

Jamie Zaninovich

LAS VEGAS -- Jamie Zaninovich turned on his laptop at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday and opened a color-coded spreadsheet that featured a ranking of all the teams he believes are still in contention for invitations to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

"I want to show you this," he said to a reporter and cameraman who had invaded his spacious suite at The Orleans Hotel & Casino. "But don't get too close with the camera."

Zaninovich, the West Coast Conference commissioner and a member of the 10-person tournament selection committee, has developed his own personal college basketball ranking system, not unlike what you would see from the major media "bracketologists." His personal prioritizing of six different measures and metrics, however, is not for publication. It's for his own personal use with the selection committee.

"I weigh the different ranking systems and I put them into my own composite ranking," he said. "I can immediately see if something jumps out -- 'Look, they are only 1-4 in top-50s."

Zaninovich was preparing for an 8 a.m. conference call with committee members, his 29th such teleconference this season. A very long day in a season of long days is just beginning. Zaninovich's "day job" is pretty demanding, and the WCC men's and women's basketball tournament at the Orleans, which ran from Thursday to Tuesday, is the conference's biggest and most important event. It features 18 basketball games, and Zaninovich will watch just about every one of them. He also will take care of sundry administrative duties, conduct media interviews and preside over inductions into the conference's Hall of Honors, all the while trying to keep up with college basketball's twists and turns across the country.

You've got to be a basketball junkie to do this.

-- WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich

After the WCC tournament ended on Tuesday night, he took a red-eye to Indianapolis, where he will cast his first ballot for the 68-team NCAA tournament bracket on Wednesday. He and the other nine members of the committee then will hole up in a hotel for the next five days through this coming Selection Sunday.

It will be basically selection and seeding each day from 8 a.m. to perhaps as late as 11 p.m. Committee members get breaks to eat catered meals and work out and keep up with the various conference tournaments, but otherwise it's voting and discussion, voting and debate, and then filling out preliminary brackets until the official announcements on CBS.

"Once you get there, it's intense," he said. "It's dynamic, it's relative and it's complex."

It also requires an extraordinary time commitment for roughly four and a half months in advance of the committee meeting. Zaninovich, who has a wife and two young sons, said he spends about five days at home in March. His time management is better in his third year of a five-year term on the committee than it was in his rookie year, but adding 25 hours a week of watching and analyzing college basketball outside your bailiwick as an athletic director or conference commissioner means little down time.

And watching a lot of basketball.

"You've got to be a basketball junkie to do this," he said.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...