The selection committee never sleeps

What he will pay attention to is regular feedback from the conferences he is covering. Two weeks ago, he chatted with Pac-12 and Big 12 representatives.

"I'll ask them, 'Rank your teams for me and give me a sense of what their seed range is,'" he said. "And they'll say, 'Team X, we really think they deserve a 1 or 2, and this team we think is more of a 4 or 5.' That's certainly not going to determine what we do; plus, I only get one vote. But it will inform in the room. [As in,] 'Here's how I see it. Here's how the conference sees it.' It's pretty much aligned."

That's one of the dynamics about the selection committee. Each member wears two hats during his or her tenure that often could seem at cross-purposes. Zaninovich listens to folks pitching their conference's teams, but his dual role as WCC commissioner and selection committee member means he doesn't do that himself. Within the committee, he leaves the room when any WCC team is discussed, and outside the committee, he's not going to reveal much about the WCC's tourney selection outlook.

Before BYU took on Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Zaninovich did an interview with BYU TV. He was asked about the WCC's chances for multiple at-large berths in the tournament.

"It's just a really hard thing to be an at-large program," he replied.

When Santa Clara was giving Gonzaga all it could handle, Zaninovich was asked what a loss might mean for Gonzaga. He smiled, paused and said, "Just one more game on a résumé." It was his least forthcoming moment of the day.


What Zaninovich is forthcoming about is what he believes are the important measuring sticks for teams trying to receive at-large berths and higher seeds in the tournament.

Multiple times he mentions winning on the road, particularly winning road conference games. He notes that home teams win 70 percent of their games, so that's a way a team can distinguish itself.

"That's a big differentiator for me," he said. "If teams can't win meaningful road games in conference, then you have to take a second look at them."

Then comes nonconference strength of schedule.

"It's not definitive, but if you're getting towards the bubble, you better make sure you've at least shown some initiative to play some teams in the nonconference schedule or then it could become an issue," he said.

Then comes wins over top-50 and top-100 teams. Obviously, beating multiple good teams -- tournament teams -- shines on a résumé.

Yes, it matters what conference you play in, but I've never heard the word 'conference RPI' uttered in the room. We don't even look at conference standings that much because there are so many unbalanced leagues now where teams don't play each other twice.

-- Jamie Zaninovich

What's not as important as you might think? RPI.

"It's a valuable tool," he said. "There's no better tool to organize things. But it's way overvalued on an absolute basis. It's the relative basis [where it is useful]. It helps us organize batches of top-50 teams."

What isn't important? A team's conference.

"Conference is so overvalued, relative to its true value," he said. "Yes, it matters what conference you play in, but I've never heard the word 'conference RPI' uttered in the room. We don't even look at conference standings that much because there are so many unbalanced leagues now where teams don't play each other twice.

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