We’ve been sitting on this idea for some time now, and we figured that the relatively quiet week prior to the 2009 Final Four would be the best time to unveil it for your vetting, review and diligence. So the plan is this: each weekday we’ll advance one round until we get to a Modern Era Final Four on Friday. On Sunday following the F4, we’ll release our two finalists and the Modern Era champion will be crowned on this year’s Championship Monday.
Let’s get down to it with our criteria for selection of the 64 teams:
- We selected the 24 national champions (noted in black).
- Next, we selected the 24 national runners-up (noted in blue-gray)
- Finally, we selected the 16 best at-large teams of the last 24 years (noted in red).
You’re undoubtedly wondering how we chose the last group of sixteen at-large teams, and that’s a fair question. There was no single measure (such as making the F4) that guaranteed inclusion to or exclusion from our at-large field, but we considered each team’s body of work in a particular season when doing so. Criteria such as overall record, conference record, AP poll ranking, NCAA seed, postseason success, general reputation at the time, and team history were included. Similar to selecting and seeding the field every year, the last few teams looked largely the same on paper and in our memories. Some of them will without question inspire debate, but that’s ok, because the point of this entire exercise is to do so.
The same is true for how we seeded each team in the field. As much as possible, we tried to stay away from the Team A would beat Team B analysis (that’s next!), focusing mostly on the team’s full body of work. Of course, comparing teams between eras and even years is nearly impossible in many cases, so there’s a fair amount of subjectiveness that went into the seed placements. Bear with us on that. Additionally, as much as possible, we tried to avoid early-round matchups between the same school and teams from the same season, while still keeping a reasonable amount of competitive balance among the regions.
Enough chatter, here’s our Modern Era bracket. Please leave us comments below telling us your choices for the first round winners. We won’t guarantee that we’ll listen, but you’ll likely know something about these matchups that we don’t. Feel free, and we’ll be back tomorrow with the next round!
Update: here are the First Round results.
Overall Top Four Seeds: Duke 1992, Kentucky 1996, UNLV 1990, UConn 1999
Last Four At-Larges: UNC 2008, St. John’s 1985, Georgetown 1989, Kansas 2002
First Four Left Out: UCLA 2008, Arkansas 1991, Michigan St. 2001, St. Joseph’s 2004
Breakdown by School (total, at-large):
- Duke (8, 1)
- Kansas (7, 3)
- North Carolina (5, 3)
- Arizona (4, 2)
- Kentucky (4, 1)
- Florida (3, 0)
- Indiana (3, 1)
- Michigan (3, 0)
- Syracuse (3, 0)
- UNLV (3, 2)
- Arkansas (2, 0)
- Connecticut (2, 0)
- Georgetown (2, 1)
- UCLA (2, 0)
- Georgia Tech (1, 0)
- Illinois (1, 0)
- Louisville (1, 0)
- Maryland (1, 0)
- Massachusetts (1, 1)
- Memphis (1, 0)
- Michigan St. (1, 0)
- Ohio St. (1, 0)
- Oklahoma (1, 0)
- Seton Hall (1, 0)
- St. John’s (1, 1)
- Utah (1, 0)
- Villanova (1, 0)
Be sure to check back on Tuesday morning for the First Round results of the RTC Modern Era bracket.