Prelude to Selection Sunday
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The college basketball world will be
entrenched in front of television sets on Sunday evening to find out which
teams have been selected to the field of 65.
March Madness rates just below the Super Bowl in terms of money wagered, and
some even bet on which team gets seeded in which bracket and in what order. I
certainly wouldn’t call myself a bracketologist, but its fun to predict the
Most of the smaller conferences have concluded their tournaments, giving ample
schools the chance of a lifetime. Just ask George Mason. The Cinderella shoe
fit the Patriots to a tee last season, and who knows, there very well could be
another one this year.
VCU deflated Masons chance of repeating its magical run in Monday nights
come-from-behind 65-59 victory, but the Patriots NCAA tournament success
will open the door for Old Dominion and maybe Drexel to join the field this
year. The Monarchs defeated Georgetown earlier in the year on the road, and
that win might deflate some of the sting of their 16-point loss to George
Mason in the semifinal round.
ON THE BUBBLE
The bubble teams this year are: Old Dominion, Drexel, Illinois, Kansas State,
Texas Tech, George Washington, Missouri State, Air Force and New Mexico State,
as well as a host of teams from an extremely weak SEC. Not every club expected
to get an invite will be included, and thats part of the charm of March
Remember the uproar last year when the selection committee chose George Mason
instead of Hofstra? The Pride finished 24-6 and had beaten the Patriots twice,
including a nine-point win in the conference tournament, but Mason got in and
Hofstra didn’t. Looking back, it turned out to be the right choice.
Its still a little early to figure out every single team since most of the
conference tournaments are still ongoing. Nevertheless, one can guess on the
amount of teams each league will garner, provided one of the top two choices
wins the conference.
Twenty-one of the 31 conferences should receive only one bid, including the
WAC, so say goodbye to New Mexico State. Massachusetts losing in the
quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tourney could open the door for George
Washington to get in, but will the A-10 gain two bids? Last year, GW went
through the league like a hot knife through butter, winning all 16 games to
finish 26-2, yet all the Colonials got was an eight-seed in the NCAAs. Xavier
won the conference tourney and the Musketeers mustered up a 14-seed. The
Atlantic 10 will NOT get a second team this year, unless someone upsets
Not much can be said about the SEC this season, especially with all six teams
in the West at .500 or below. The conference does not deserve more than four
teams (Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky), so the only way the SEC
gets five is if a major upset occurs in the league championship game.
The Big 12 and Big Ten have been somewhat comparable this season. Both
conferences are extremely top-heavy with Kansas, Texas A&M and Texas heading
the former, while Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana lead the way in the
latter. The middle teams are average at best, and the bottom-feeders are
downright brutal. Look for five teams to represent both conferences, thus
leaving Illinois out of the running from the Big Ten.
The three other clubs worth considering are Drexel, Missouri State and Air
Force. The Dragons began the season 12-2 with key road wins over Villanova and
Syracuse, and they ended the year winning seven of their last nine, including
another big road win at Creighton. If Drexel gets a bid, which I think they
will, Old Dominion is a lock to make it.
Two teams that won’t be dancing are Missouri State and Air Force. The Bears
defeated Wisconsin earlier in the season, but lost all four games to the top
two teams in the MVC: Southern Illinois and Creighton. Missouri State will be
one of the favorites for the NIT.
Air Force was a top-25 team as recently as March 1, but the Falcons ended the
season on a four-game losing streak, including a loss in the first round of
the MWC tournament to Wyoming. Say goodbye Air Force!
Old Dominion, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Drexel will fill out my
selections for the field of 65 if, and this is something impossible to
predict, no more conference championship game upsets take place from here on
out. With the field now complete, its time to run down each set of 16 teams
in seeding order.
The play-in game starts it all off in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday, March 13.
Without knowing the official field, lets take a shot with the SWAC winner vs.
the winner of the MEAC. The surviving club will have the chance to upset the
number-one team in the nation, the Ohio State Buckeyes, in the Midwest
bracket. The top seed in the East will be Kansas, while Florida heads the list
in the South. Wisconsin gains a number-one seed in the West, with UCLA bowing
out of the PAC 10 tournament in the quarterfinal round.
Here is what the brackets could look like:
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
1) Ohio State; 2) Texas A&M; 3) Louisville; 4) Washington State; 5) Virginia;
6) Southern Ill; 7) Tennessee; 8) Duke; 9) Kentucky; 10) Villanova; 11)
Stanford; 12) Kansas State; 13) Oral Roberts; 14) Akron; 15) Eastern Kentucky;
16) Play-in game winner
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
1) Wisconsin; 2) UCLA; 3) Texas; 4) Nevada; 5) USC; 6) Marquette; 7) Virginia
Tech; 8) Gonzaga; 9) West Virginia; 10) VCU; 11) Creighton; 12) Winthrop; 13)
Wright State; 14) Long Beach State; 15) Weber State; 16) North Texas
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY
1) Kansas; 2) Georgetown; 3) Memphis; 4) Maryland; 5) Arizona; 6) Vanderbilt;
7) Boston College; 8) Syracuse; 9) UNLV; 10) Michigan State; 11) Old Dominion;
12) Xavier; 13) Penn; 14) Holy Cross; 15) Niagara; 16) Central Connecticut
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
1) Florida; 2) North Carolina; 3) Pittsburgh; 4) Oregon; 5) Notre Dame; 6)
Indiana; 7) Butler; 8) Georgia Tech; 9) Purdue; 10) BYU; 11) Texas Tech; 12)
Drexel; 13) Davidson; 14) Belmont; 15) Vermont; 16) Texas A&M, CC
The selection committee would be very wise to provide the nation with
intriguing match-ups, such as Duke-Kentucky, which could be a perfect 8-9
game. The other contest that most people would love to see is Bobby Knight and
Texas Tech vs. Indiana. Regardless of which teams play each other, theres
nothing like the excitement of March Madness and all the buzzer-beaters we
all surely will witness.