INDIANAPOLIS - It felt a little like eavesdropping on a parent-teacher conference as a kid, but it was nonetheless fascinating to hear a cross section of sports writers talk about this city's college hoops programs and where they fit in the national landscape.
Some were discussed in detail, others just in passing and in the end when a collection of U.S. Basketball Writers Association members followed the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee's guidelines, just two of Philadelphia's six schools made it into the 65-team field. (Remember, there's still time. This was based on the season ending 3 days ago and with conference tournament winners determined at random.)
Here's what happened to the city's schools during our discussions:
Some questioned the validity of letting Villanova in when, for our purposes, it was still under .500 in its own conference. But the committee liked the fact that the Wildcats played people - they went to Oklahoma, hosted Texas - and that they won on the road.
For seeding purposes, in order to save time the NCAA staff slotted the lower seeds, putting Villanova in at No. 21 overall. After Virginia was announced as an ACC Tournament finalist, the Cavaliers bumped the Wildcats down one.
In the bracketing, as the third team in from the Big East, Villanova was limited by rules as to where it could play. The Wildcats couldn't play in the East, where Pittsburgh was a No. 3 seed, couldn't play out West, where Marquette was the No. 2 seed and because Oklahoma State couldn't play opposite Big 12 member Texas A & M in St. Louis, Villanova by default was sent as the No. 6 seed into the St. Louis Regional with a first-round date against New Mexico State in Sacramento, Calif.
Awarded an automatic qualifier before we even got to Indianapolis, the only issue with the Quakers was figuring out where they would play.
As the only Ivy League team, Penn didn't have any conflicts but Evansville, another No. 13 seed, did. The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament winners couldn't play opposite No. 4 seed Southern Illinois in the San Jose Regional, so the Quakers were pushed to the East Rutherford Regional. After Penn's latest NCAA itineraries were checked and it was revealed the Quakers hadn't traveled far in recent years, they were sent to Spokane, Wash., for a first-round date with Southern California.
Xavier was the only Atlantic 10 team that got any discussion as an at-large team but the X-men's resume didn't stand up well enough to merit even a position on one of the at-large ballots. When, at 10:09 p.m., David Worlock announces George Washington as the Atlantic 10 Tournament champion, Xavier was out, leaving the A-10 with just one bid.