Gene Smith, tourney chair, on Kentucky and Florida

(AP photo)

From teleconference transcript with Selection Committee chairman Gene Smith, released by NCAA tonight:

Q. What kind of emphasis did you put on the fact that Kentucky won the SEC tournament or lack of emphasis? You had talked about Florida, how they had strung a string of victories together. Kentucky strung an impressive résumé together at the end of the year and still ended up as the No. 4 seed.

GENE SMITH: You know, a lot of people put a lot of emphasis on the 1 seed, 2 seed. At the end of the day, the top five lines are benefited in a great way. You benefit because you’re protected from being in an environment where you are at a home crowd disadvantage when you get into the bracketing process. You’re protected as best as you can geographically, when we can put you in a geographic location that’s closer or in proximity, if we can do that, but that’s not always the case. Kentucky is a very good ballclub. But when it came to the votes, they slid a little bit.

Also keep in mind, when I mention Florida, it was to a particular question. You look at Kentucky’s full résumé compared to everyone else, we feel real comfortable with their seed.

Q. What do you mean that Kentucky slid a little bit? Are you saying the fact that they won the SEC tournament wasn’t a factor or it hurt them?

GENE SMITH: Keep in mind there’s 10 people in the room and everyone in the room has different a emphasis on different criteria. So when we go to vote, everyone selects the criteria they think is important to them and they ultimately vote.

That didn’t happen with just Kentucky, it happened with everyone else in the field. So when they came up on the board, everybody voted based upon their individual criteria. We study every single team, look at a lot of different factors. They ended up in the spot that they did, and we think it’s a good spot.

And later:

Q. I know some people on the network shows were questioning Florida being a No. 2 seed. Could you talk about that decision.

GENE SMITH: Again, Florida is an outstanding basketball team, well coached. They played a very good overall schedule, had some quality wins. So when you stack them up against the teams in the top quadrant, we call it, they rose to the top. We felt like they deserved to be a No. 4 seed. They had strong strength of schedule, overall four, non conference strength of schedule of a seven. We felt they deserved to be at the top of the seed list. The No. 2 seed is a very strong seed.

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