Everyone knows that playing its first and second round NCAA Tournament games in Milwaukee would be extremely beneficial for Wisconsin and I know a lot of Badger fans are wondering how that can happen. The bottom line is that it is possible, but the Badgers have a lot of work to do.
In this morning's Badger Bits, I mentioned Wisconsin's chances of playing at the Bradley Center in March and linked to a JSOnline blog post that indicated UW would have to be a No. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15 or 16 seed to play in Milwaukee.
My first reaction was to question this because I know that specific games are not assigned to specific sites until the bracket is filled out by the selection committee in March. Last year I had a chance to sit in a session at the Big Ten Network where one of the heads of the NCAA Selection Committee explained the selection process to us. That hour session was just as confusing as the AP Calculus class I took in high school, but in the end, it was very insightful.
The reality is that the selection process is VERY confusing and the only difference between it and the BCS is that the NCAA Selection Committee actually has a rhyme and reason for everything it does. Figuring out how they do it is tough, but once you you do, it actually makes sense.
To clear this all up, I e-mailed Chris Dobbertean from Blogging The Bracket this morning because I knew he could explain this a lot better than I could. Chris is SB Nation's resident Bracketologist and I'll let the follow explanation from him to do the talking:
The top 16 teams are assigned to the closest available site, in selection (or S-curve) order. It's pretty likely for Milwaukee to host a 1 and 2 seed for the first weekend, as it's the closest site for Kentucky, Michigan State, and Purdue. For the same reason, you could say the same thing about Oklahoma City, as it's the closest site for Kansas, Texas, and Kansas State. But it's not a lock.
Once two high seeds are slotted in a site, it's taken off the board. With the lack of decent Western teams this year, that means teams who are seeded 4th, like I have the Badgers this week, are likely to get shipped out West.
Basically, Wisconsin needs to get to the top two lines to have any shot at playing at the Bradley Center this year.
Now, if they were slip down a seven seed or worse, could the Badgers play in Milwaukee? The answer is yes, but there would have to be a little bit of luck involved. From what I learned in my selection committee seminar last year, the teams get ranked 1-65 and then are slotted into their seeds based on those rankings. Limiting travel is VERY important to the committee, but those considerations are given to the higher ranked teams. Basically, if Wisconsin is the highest ranked No. 7 seed then they could end up in Milwaukee, but if Illinois was also a No. 7 seed and they were ranked higher, then the Illini would get the nod to Milwaukee.
By the way, that also means that if Wisconsin is ranked No. 8 and Purdue is ranked No. 7 (according to the selection committee), both would be No. 2 seeds but the Boilermakers would go to Milwaukee.
There are also some exceptions made. This isn't a math formula with one right answer. This is a committee that makes decisions based on everyone's best judgement.
A lot can happen and most of it is out of the Badgers' hands. Basically if Wisconsin wants to play in Milwaukee, it needs to win basketball games and hope for the best.