Selection Sunday is once again one of the happiest days in the Derby City, and yours truly is oozing with excitement...and also some crazy stuff coming out of my right eye because I think it's infected or something, which isn't good because my baby blues are what bring home the bacon to CC Headquarters (wink).
Because I've always been more obsessed with college basketball than anyone could possibly consider healthy, I've created a mock NCAA Tournament bracket on the night before Selection Sunday for as long as I can remember. The backets in the early years weren't exactly a thing of beauty, but I think it's still safe to say that I was a bracketologist before I could spell bracket (age 17).
As the years have passed, the traveling and pairing rules have become more complex and I've found that trying to predict each and every game is not only pointless, but borderline irresponsible. That said, I have gone ahead and seeded all 65 I think will get in, and I'll reveal them after I unveil my bold predictions for the greatest 65-team amateur basketball tournament bracket revealing day of the year.
1. I'm not going to be happy with whoever Louisville plays in the first round.
This is a given. I've gotten a lot better, but it's impossible for me to deny that at my core I am a pessimist, and unless Jackson State miraculously creeps up to a 12 or 11 seed, I'm going to be terrified of the team we're paired with. I'm the kind of guy who goes through every possible opponent in the hours leading up to 6 p.m. and says "I don't want to play them."
There's only been one year where I can remember being pleased the instant I saw our first round matchup, and that was 2004 when we drew Xavier who naturally beat us.
Only because I'm sure you're dying to know, the most upset I've ever been was '97 when we got stuck with eleventh seeded UMass who was coming off of the Final Four and still had the fear inspiring backcourt duo of Padilla and Travieso. Of course that year we made it to the elite eight.
2. Ohio State and Texas will be put in the same region.
I know the committee claims they don't look at things like this, but the possiiblity of an Oden/Durant regional final is going to be too much for them to pass up. I think it's safe to assume that if the Buckeyes win tomorrow they will be the top seed in the midwest, and I think the committee would have no problem shipping the Horns out there to make this game happen.
Speaking of Texas...
3. There is no way Texas will be seeded any worse than third.
Kevin Durant is the single biggest draw in this tournament, and because of this the NCAA is going to want UT to hang around for as long as possible.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Horns pull a Tennessee from a year ago and nab a two seed, especially if they win tomorrow. But there is no way the committee will give them a four and force them to play a five in round two. Texas will get a very manageable draw.
4. A team 75% of mock brackets don't have in will get in.
Last year was the first one I can remember in this modern era where "who's in and who's out" is discussed for a month before SS where there were at least three or four real surprises in the bracket.
ESPN has kind of kept it on the down low, but I think Lunardi missed at least four last year (I know for a fact he had Cincinnati and Missouri State wrong) after having missed just one in each of his previous Bracketology seasons. Notice you haven't heard the world wide leader talking about his accuracy this year like they have in years past.
Very few people had George Mason or Air Force in a year ago, and I think there's going to be a team like that again this year. Don't be surprised if it's someone like Missouri State or Mississippi State, but my wildcard choice is Appalachian State. I'd love to see the Mountaineers sneak in and get the chance to watch DJ Thompson on the big stage.
5. We're going to be able to see who the last team or teams that got in were, if NC State and/or Arkansas lose.
I think it's safe to say that the bracket is extremely close to being done at this point, but there have to be a few alternate scenarios in place because of the possibilities of Arkansas and/or NC State stealing a bid by winning their conference tournament tomorrow.
Neither one of these teams has the credentials to be in the dance via an at-large bid, but both are good enough that if they earn an automatic bid they can be subbed in for a bubble team seeded 13th, 12th, perhaps even 11th.
It would be impossible for the committee to restructure the tournament in order to fit the Pack or Hogs in appropriately, so you have to assume that the "swap scenario" is in place where if one wins they will simply take the place of the last bubble team that would have been in the tournament otherwise.
What this means is that if either or both teams lose tomorrow, we'll be able to find out who the last team to make it into the field of 65 was by looking at the lowest seeded at-large teams and seeing which one couldn't have played an SEC or ACC team until the Sweet 16.
6. My sister will yet again be overshadowed during her birthday celebration.
Poor Katie. Every year for her entire life our family has gathered at my parents' house on the Sunday of her birthday week to celebrate, and every year that Sunday has been Selection Sunday meaning that the men of the house always scurry to the television to watch the unveiling and subsequent discussion of the bracket for at least an hour (usually way more, but we'll never admit as much). She detests all sports, and this certainly hasn't helped.
Happy 19th kid, better hope the Cards get a decent draw or you won't be hearing the end of it during cake time.
7. Billy Packer will find a way to make an ass out of himself.
I have no idea why I felt the need to type that. It's like the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis was born with a penis, you know everyone else already knows it but you just can't help but shout it out every time you see her on TV.
8. Louisville will play New Mexico State in the first round.
Since number seven was nowhere near bold, I had to go extra bold on this one and actually predict who U of L will be playing on Thursday or Friday. You have absolutely no cause to read into this, but for whatever reason I'm seeing a dreaded 5/12 game, teacher/student storyline for the Cards this week.
9. After the brackets come out Georgetown is going to be the trendy national champion pick among the talking heads, and guys like me who picked the Hoyas before the season are going to be pissed.
Now onto the seeds:
I do think that the top seeds can't possibly all be in place at this point because I'd just hate to believe that Wisconsin blowing out Ohio State and North Carolina being blown out by NC State wouldn't change anything, but I suppose no one knows but the committee.
Bear in mind that this isn't what I think the seeds should be, but how I think they will be when they're unveiled tonight (wins and losses for teams that play tomorrow are predicted):
Ohio State (30-3)
North Carolina (28-6)
Texas A&M (25-6)
Washington State (25-7)
Southern Illinois (27-6)
Virginia Tech (21-11)
Notre Dame (24-7)
Boston College (20-11)
Georgia Tech (20-11)
Michigan State (22-11)
Appalachian State (25-7)
New Mexico State (25-8)
George Washington (23-8)
Old Dominion (24-8)
Oral Roberts (23-10)
Holy Cross (25-8)
Wright State (23-9)
Miami (OH) (18-14)
Texas A&M Corpus Christi (26-6)
Long Beach State (24-7)
Eastern Kentucky (21-11)
Central Connecticut State (22-11)
North Texas (23-10)
Florida A&M (21-13)
Weber State (20-11)
Jackson State (21-13)
It really is amazing how little difference there is in the middle teams seeded between three and six and seven and ten. I gave my last spot to Old Dominion over Air Force, although for some reason I can't see the Falcons being left out, and perhaps it will come at the expense of the Monarchs.
The token team with a losing record playing in the play-in game is noticably absent this year, in fact there has been just one conference champion with less than 20 wins and that was Miami of Ohio (18-14) from the highly respected MAC. Northwestern State (18-14) can become the second by beating Texas A&M Corpus Christi in today's final game of the Southland tournament.
I know I didn't seed them as such, but I keep thinking that Kentucky is going to draw Xavier, probably because that seems like a beatable opponent which would piss me off.
The picture is definitely extremely jumbled after the first two lines this year, which only means that the bracket should be that much more interesting and controversial. Enoy the day everyone.