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An inside look at your March Madness bracket

Peter Roby followed hundreds of men’s college basketball games this season—in person, on TV, and even on DVD. Sure, the Northeastern athletics director is a huge basketball fan—and expert. But this undertaking served a higher purpose, helping create this year’s NCAA Tournament bracket, which millions of fans worldwide fill out annually in anticipation of March Madness.

Roby served as one of the 10 members of the NCAA Division 1 men’s college basketball selection committee, which is responsible for selecting and seeding the tournament’s 68-team field. The committee on Sunday released its official bracket; the teams included either earned automatic bids for winning their conference tournaments or were at-large selections by the committee.

Northeastern Athletics Director Peter Roby

“It’s been an eye-opening experience, and it’s very humbling when you know how important it is for these teams, the student-athletes, and the coaching staffs,” said Roby, who in September was appointed to a five-year tenure on the committee. “As a committee, we really took it seriously to do the best job we could to get the right teams in the field and acknowledge all their hard work.”

The tournament begins Tuesday night with a pair of games in Dayton, Ohio, and concludes with the Final Four weekend in Atlanta in early April.

Roby spent the days leading up to Selection Sunday sequestered in a conference room in Indianapolis with his fellow committee members, who for hours pored over team schedules and statistics and debated each program’s tournament resumé.  While committee members were assigned specific conferences to monitor throughout the season, their roles required them to be knowledgeable about the rest of the pack.

That meant watching lots of basketball—a task Roby embraced.

“All of a sudden now, you’ve got an excuse to watch five games a night, and no one gets mad at you,” he joked.

Roby said many factors are at play when deciding why one team should be seeded higher than another, but one thing he put a premium on was how teams performed on the road. “That’s a real badge of honor because it’s not easy and it speaks to the quality of your program,” he said.

The Northeastern men’s team narrowly missed out on a bid to the NCAA Tournament after losing in Colonial Athletic Association tournament to James Madison. However, since the Huskies won their conference regular-season title, the team received an automatic bid to the National Invitational Tournament.

The eighth-seeded Huskies will face No. 1-seed Alabama (21-12) on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.

“It’s a great accomplishment, and we’re proud to say our team is playing in the NIT because it’s got such a long history and proud tradition,” Roby said.

After the season, the Huskies will lose their two senior co-captains to graduation—guards Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith—but Roby noted that the team has a strong group of young players that can learn from playing meaningful games in the postseason.

“It’s all part of the journey and the process for us,” he said.