NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice

NCAA Tournament bracketing principles officially changed

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The NCAA officially announced changes to the tournament’s bracketing principles on Thursday afternoon.

The changes were made in an effort for the tournament to reflect the true seeding of each team that is invited. There are two major changes to pay attention to:

1) Teams from the same conference will no longer be required to wait until the Elite 8 to play if eight or fewer teams from the conference reached the tournament. The new rules:

  • Conference foes that played once during the regular season can face-off in the Round of 32.
  • Teams that played twice during the year can play each other in the Sweet 16.
  • If teams played three times during the season — a home-and-home during the regular season and a matchup in their conference tournament — they will have to wait until the Elite 8 to play.

2) The top four teams from a given conference will be placed in separate regions only if they are all to four seeds. Previously, the top three teams from a given conference had to be in different regions regardless of where they were to be seeded.

The committee also decided that rules against rematches from the regular season will be relaxed. If possible, they will be avoided in the First Four and the Round of 64, but it will not be a hard-and-fast rule, particularly for the teams headed to the First Four.

“We want to remain as true to the seed lines as possible,” Ron Wellman, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and director of athletics at Wake Forest University, said in a release. “Too often we have had to move teams up and down a line because we have been limited by our principles on teams from the same league.”

“When you move a team off of a seed line,” he added, “you’re not only affecting that team, you’re affecting the team it would play.”

Per the NCAA’s release, “an average of ten teams per year have moved up or down at least one line on the bracket”.

“We have determined that 90% of the seed lines moves that occurred in the last three years would have been eliminated if the new principles were in effect,” Wellman said.

The changes stem from complaints about Oregon receiving a No. 12 seed last season despite winning the Pac-12 tournament. Cal was also dropped to a No. 12 seed, where they were essentially given a home game in a rematch with No. 5 UNLV.

The fact that conferences are getting larger and more teams from each league are making the Big Dance also helped push these changes along. Same conference bracketing principles aren’t as much of an issue when there are five or six teams from a league getting a bid. When there are 11 Big East teams, as there were in 2011, it’s more difficult.

The only change that the NCAA needs to make now is to stop referring to the Round of 64 as the second round and the Round of 32 as the third round.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?