Let the Madness begin! The brackets have been drawn and the guessing is over...or is it? Now comes the fun part, filling out the brackets. Here are some my opening observations....
*The No. 1 Seeds - The selection committee got it right here with Louisville, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Connecticut all getting tabbed with the honor.
*Big East Rocks - They didn't the mega seeds that many expected earlier in the season as only seven of the 16 teams made the tournament rather than the 8 or 9 some had speculated earlier. Still, three No. 1 seeds from the conference is quite a statement.
*SEC Letdown - The conference had one of its worst years ever and only because Mississippi State made an improbable run to the conference tournament championship did it get three teams in. LSU and Tennessee earned at large bids, but only a No. 8 and and No. 9 respecitvely.
*Big 10 Overrated - Penn State didn't get in, but the Big Ten get seven teams in. Still, I don't think the conference is really that good. Outside of Michigan State I expect early exits for all of the teams and even the Spartans proved to be vulnerable.
*Conference Breakdown - ACC (7 teams in), Big East (7), Big Ten (7), Big 12 (6), Pac 10 (5), SEC (3), Atlantic 10 (3), Horizon (2), MVC (2), Moutain West (2), WCC (2)
*Buckeye Pride - Five of the 13 Division I schools in Ohio made the NCAA Tournament - Akron, Dayton, Cleveland State, Ohio State, and Xavier.
*Last At-Large Ins - Arizona (12 seed), Wisconsin (12), Dayton (11), Maryland (10), Michigan (10) and Minnesota (10)
*Notable snubs - San Diego State (35th in RPI), Creighton (40), Saint Mary's (48), Auburn (63), Penn State (70)
*Where are they now? - The tournament is missing some of its regulars this season. Amongst the casualties are Arkansas, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Florida, Indiana, Georgetown, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame.
*Know Your Bracket - Understanding the history of the bracket could go long way towards helping you win your bracket. Consider a few of these numbers: six of the last eight final four teams were No. 1 seeds; Since 2000, only two teams that weren't a #1 or #2 seed have gone on to win a national championship (both No. 3 seeds - Florida in '06 & Syracuse in '03). Check out all of the TOURNAMENT HISTORY BY SEEDS and come up with your own trends.
*Local Love - Here's where the local teams are headed...
Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. (Play-in game): #16 Morehead State (19-15) vs. #16 Alabama State (22-9) - Dayton, OH
Thursday, 7:25 p.m. - #4 Gonzaga (26-5) vs. #13 Akron (23-12) - Portland, OR
Thursday, 9:55 p.m. - #5 Illinois (24-9) vs. Western Kentucky (24-8) - Portland, OR
Friday, 3:00 p.m. - #6 West Virginia (23-11) vs.#11 Dayton (26-7) - Minneapolis, MN
Friday, 7:10 p.m. - #1 Louisville (28-5) vs. #16 Morehead St/Alabama St winner - Dayton, OH
Friday, 7:25 p.m. - #4 Xavier (25-7) vs. #13 Portland State (23-9) - Boise, ID
Friday, 9:40 p.m. - #8 Ohio State (22-10) vs. #9 Sienna (26-7) - Dayton, OH