NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice

Prioritizing seeding a good move, now let’s get the names of the rounds right

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On Friday afternoon, Andy Katz of ESPN.com put together a story on some of the potential changes that are coming to the NCAA tournament process.

There are some noteworthy bits in there, like the fact that the regionals will be played in basketball arenas, meaning that Sweet 16 games in Cowboy Stadium are a thing of the past. The NCAA is also going to take into consideration the amount of travel that the families of the participating athletes will have; any parent out there can understand what that’s a big deal.

But the most important note that Katz makes is that the Selection Committee is going to take their focus off of bracketing principles — keeping teams from the same conference from playing until the Elite 8, avoiding regular season rematches, etc. — and make protecting the seed of a team their priority. The only priority that will change a seed line is to keep BYU from having to play on a Sunday.

This came to the forefront last season when Oregon was a 12 seed and five seed UNLV was forced to play 12 seed Cal, a rematch, in San Jose, a virtual home game.

With how bloated the major conferences have become, we’re going to reach a point where avoiding rematches and intra-conference collisions in the tournament will be nearly impossible. It’s more important to make sure that the seed that a team earns is the seed that a team gets even if it comes at the cost of, say, Maryland playing North Carolina the first weekend.

The next step for the tournament to make?

Stop calling the play-in games the first round. The round of 64 is not the second round, it’s the first round. The round of 32 is not the third round, it’s the second round. This is not only counterintuitive and, arguably, the dumbest thing in the history of college basketball, but it also gets everyone confused when we’re use historical data.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: