Sunday, March 7, 2010

Madness Begins

It is March and that means its time for one of my favorite times of the year. THE NCAA TOURNAMENT!!! Yes, I am a college basketball fanatic. Well, Kentucky Wildcat fanatic and college basketball fan. This event is bested only by Christmas time in my world. With that being said, lets begin the madness.

The regular season ended today for all the major conferences in the NCAA. The University of Kentucky ended their season with a win over the Florida Gators at Rupp Arena. The win gave the Wildcats a perfect home record of 18 wins and 0 losses this season. That ties the record posted by the 1986 Wildcats who also went 18-0. Congratulations Coach Calipari and the entire Kentucky Wildcat organization.

Although the major conferences ended their regular seasons today, we had a few conferences end their tournaments. That means we have some teams that are putting on their dancing shoes and learning the shuffle because they have guaranteed themselves a spot in the big dance.

Here is what we know so far. The tournament is a field of 65 teams. 31 automatic bids are handed out, 30 to conference tournament champions with 1 to the Ivy League Conference champion (The Ivy League doesn't hold a tournament). And, 34 at large bids are handed out by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee on Sunday, March 14th. Its fair to assume that teams such as Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse, Duke, Purdue, etc. will get in regardless of winning their conference tournaments or not, but we wont know that "for sure" until a week from today. So, I'm going to stick with the guaranteed in teams. We know 5 guaranteed teams that will be dancing thus far. They are as follows:

- Cornell from the Ivy League
- Eastern Tennessee State from the Atlantic Sun Conference
- Winthrop from the Big South
- Northern Iowa from the Missouri Valley Conference
- Murray State from the Ohio Valley Conference

Congratulations to all of these teams for advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for most of you I don't see you making much of a run. Obviously it is all going to be determined by where the teams are seeded next Sunday, but either way I don't see 3 of the 5 doing too much damage. On the other hand I see two of these teams with a "possibility" in making some noise. The first of these would be Murray State. Not a big run for the Racers but could play spoiler in the first round depending on who they are matched up against. They had a good season ending with 30-4 record and opening their season with a 5 point loss @ California. They have some great leadership on the team, and given the right seeding, could make some waves. The second team that can make a possible Cinderella run as far as the Sweet 16 is Northern Iowa. They probably would have got into the tournament even if they would have lost their conference tournament to Wichita State earlier today. But, by winning the conference tourney they helped their seeding which will put them in a better spot to make a large splash at the dance this year.

Obviously the tournament is nearly unpredictable. Which is why it is so exciting and millions of people fill out their very own bracket of predictions every year. I'm waiting in anticipation as I am sure many of you are as well. From the selection show next Sunday, to the play in game that tips off the hours of basketball we will all watch in 3 weeks time, and that "One Shining Moment" montage that will recap the entire tournament after a champion has been crowned... Let the madness begin.

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