Utah State AD Scott Barnes talks about NCAA selection
Scott Barnes hasn't had much time to hang around in Logan this month.
He came home from Indianapolis in the witching hours of Monday morning, woke up for work that day to be Utah State's athletic director, and then went home preparing to fly out Tuesday to San Jose.
In his third year of the NCAA men's tournament selection committee, Barnes has gotten used to the idea that he'll be stretched thin in March.
"It's a pretty hectic month," he said. "I get in the office an average of one day a week, usually on Monday. It's part of stewarding the sport of college basketball and managing the tournaments."
That's what's going on for Barnes these next few weeks. Even after the committee's most well-known job of picking and seeding teams for the Big Dance, there's a lot of work to be done: Making sure the regional sites are prepared and handling things smoothly, making sure teams get where they need to go.
Barnes was hopeful that he might get a chance to work in Salt Lake City this weekend, but that went to Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton. There was an instant in which eventual No. 13 seed Montana appeared slated for a spot in Salt Lake - a conflict that would've sent Fullerton elsewhere and left Barnes local - but the moment passed.
"[Fullerton] literally lives 18 minutes from the site down there," Barnes said. "I was hoping for a few seconds."
One thing Barnes is at peace with is the brackets the committee churned out on Selection Sunday. As far as bubble teams who were left out, there hasn't been as many obvious snubs as in recent years. The bottom line for Barnes was teams such as Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia didn't have quite the seasons that midmajor entrants Saint Mary's, Middle Tennessee and Boise State did.
"I think the Middle Tennessees and Saint Mary's of the world didn't have some of the resume wins that the other teams had, but we're trying to evaluate the whole body of work," Barnes said. "Some of the teams we left out, we were challenged at the end, but the ones we have in, we felt were worthy. There's only so many slots."
The bracket was not without controversy. Low seedings for Oregon, Colorado and a few other competitive teams drew ire from pundits. Barnes echoed a statement by Mike Bobinski after the bracket came out: Oregon and California were slated for higher spots, but had to be moved down a line due to a conflict that came up in seeding and logistics.
Barnes eschewed the idea that the committee has a way of plotting juicy storylines for games, such as a theory that North Carolina is slotted for a third-round match-up with Kansas because of Roy Williams' history with the two schools. The committee pays attention to teams that have already played and geography, but beyond that, bracketing is mostly a "mechanical" process.
"You have to laugh at conspiracy theories, because we're guided by a series of principles, and bracketing is one of the most methodical things we do," Barnes said. "We don't have one vote on a team and move on. We evaluate every team multiple times. There's several things that go into it, and we might change some things depending on the challenges there are."
Barnes has two years remaining on his term as a committee member, and he's enjoyed learning how the process works. He said it allows him to pass on information and advice to the Utah State basketball teams.
Watching Mountain West basketball this season also makes him excited for next year, although he understands the challenges of moving into a higher level of competition. The conference sent five teams to the tournament this year.
"They obviously had a tremendous year, and we know we have a tremendous opportunity here," Barnes said. "In everything we do, we have to raise our game. It's a great conference."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon