It's that time of year again! After the normal lull which follows the Super Bowl (which was buoyed by the Olympics this year, thankfully) we get back to games that matter and captivate the country. The first round of the tourney is probably my favorite, but it's been a little different since I started working. Last year I got the March Madness On Demand so I could watch games live online, but I'm not sure that will be an option at my new job. Oh well, I guess that comes with growing up…
Anyhoo, there has been some grumblings in the media about the tournament seedings for this year. While there are some surprises with every bracket, there are some notable oddities this year.
- George Washington, the team with the best record in the field at 26-2, got stuck with an 8 seed.
- Tennessee (21-7) got a 2 seed even though it did not win it's conference's regular season title (LSU, a 4 seed at 23-8) or tournament (Florida, a 3 seed at 27-6).
- UCLA getting a 2 seed out west with a 27-6 record, while Gonzaga, who's been better ranked all season and has one of the most dynamic scorers in the counrty, got snubbed by getting a 3 seed in the same region with a 27-3 record.
On the flip side, there were finally some omissions that were warranted. Cincinnatti, Michigan, and Missouri State were all left on the outside looking in. These teams lost at-large bids to smaller conferences who have caused some noise in the past, which I think is a good trend. In the past, these small conferences played all season, but the only thing that mattered is who won the conference tournament for the automatic bid. Meanwhile the 8th seed in a power conference could lose in the first round of their tournament and still have a shot at making the big dance (and often getting upset by one of these smaller conference champs). This new approach seems to be looking to create a more competitive field from top to bottom instead of leaning on the reputations of the large conferences.
Well, tonight things begin with the play-in game (Monmouth v. Hampton in Dayton, OH), but the party starts this Thursday. What player will come through in the clutch this weekend to fuel your Monday water cooler discussion? Well, we'll just have to wait and see!