Tag:NCAA Tournament
Posted on: April 1, 2010 11:02 pm
 

96 Teams Would Ruin the Joy of the Tournament

MATT JONES



The NCAA is dead set on ruining the greatest sporting event currently played in this country.  No matter how much moaning, griping or throwing up of hands we do, the decision has been made and the pristine mountains of March Madness are about to be strip-mined for the almighty dollar.  The press conference called by the NCAA on Thursday was simply an attempt to grease the skids on the inevitable inclusion of 32 mediocre to bad teams into next year’s edition of the Big Dance.  Yes, the NCAA claimed that “no decision has been made” and that they are “looking at all options”, but those are simply public faces to the actual situation which is “the tournament is expanding, deal with it.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that this is simply an NCAA money grab and is being done not for the students’ benefit or the fans’ interest, but rather for dollars into the NCAA institutions’ coffers.  That rationale alone however, does not in and of itself make the decision a bad one.  When the  NCAA expanded from 32 to 48 and 48 to 64, (I will leave out the absurd move to 65), both decisions were driven by money, not the quality of the product.  Yet luckily for the fans, the Tournament as a whole benefitted.  With the increase of Division I teams in college basketball and the proliferation of conferences, the new combination of automatic qualifies and at-large bids produced a great combination of teams with a real chance for a national championship and the spunky dreamers hoping for their one shot at glory.  In short, it went from a good to a great event.

However this move to 96, while still based on the same “greed is good” mentality, will have the side effect of truly doing harm to the great event.  Zach McCrite, a radio host friend of mine, took the time a few weeks ago to bracket out what the 2010 96-team NCAA Tournament might have looked like.  Take a look at it for a second and then come back.   Horrifying isn’t it?  Look at some of the teams added to the field:

Troy

Texas  Tech

Jacksonville

St Johns

NC State

Tulsa

Northwestern

 

There are of course others.  But look at some of those names.  Was there ever a moment in which you thought Sidney Lowe’s group of underachieving Wolfpack, Norm “My team is so bad I got fired” Roberts’ St John’s team or the “Our best coaches left long ago” Tulsa bunch needed to be part of the festivities.  I mean if you watched Minnesota or UTEP’s performance, it is hard to make the case that Texas Tech would have somehow added anything but mind-numbingly bad basketball to the event.  And if Northwestern was in, well Mike Wilbon’s smugness alone would be enough to ruin the festivities.

But its not just the fact that the event wont be bettered by the 32 extra teams, it is the fact that it will actually be worsened.  The first round of the NCAA Tournament is special.  There are great David vs Goliath matchups between small conference champions and major program powers, traditional toss-up games between 8-9 seeds and the inevitable 5 vs 12 or 4 vs 13 upset.  Every slot of games has excitement and all the teams get to take the stage.

Now look at the 96 team event.  The top 32 teams all get byes.  That means when the tournament starts, no Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, Syracuse, Ohio State, etc.  Instead take just one region (the Midwest) this year and here are the opening round matchups in 2010:

Kent State vs South Florida

Northern Iowa vs Winthrop

New Mexico State vs Stony Brook

Illinois vs Troy

San Diego State vs UC Santa Barbara

Arizona State vs Weber State

Georgia Tech vs Lehigh

Wichita State vs Texas Tech

 

LOOK AT THAT!  Is even one of those games mildly entertaining?  Can you imagine taking time off work, with your kids or even mowing your lawn, to watch any of them?  That lineup would take what I consider to be two of the best days in sports, and turn them into a snooze factory that even Greg Anthony and Seth Davis cannot watch. Unless the NCAA’s goal is trying to boost the nation’s collective work output for those two days, nothing good can come of that.

 

And it actually gets worse than that.  The 96 team tournament will actually make it harder for the best teams to win it all.  Take the situation for the #1 seeds.  For the past 20 years, being a #1 seed has mattered.  It gave you a matchup with a #16 seed and essentially a free pass to round 2 for your hard work during the regular season.  What happens with a 96 team tournament? Well initially, there is no benefit in the first round, because the top 32 teams get a bye, meaning that Texas gets the same reward for its dismal regular season as Kansas.  Then when a game does actually have to be played, a #1 seed gets a different type of #16 seed.  In fact, in our mock 2010 bracket, Syracuse would open the tournament with North Carolina and Duke would play Connecticut.  There you go Jim Boeheim, congrats on that top seed and instead of Vermont to start the Tournament, enjoy North Carolina’s 8 McDonalds All Americans as your first-round reward.  If a team that was as consistently awful as UNC’s merry bunch of underachievers can even make the Tournament, much less have a shot at a #1 seed in Round One, for teams in major conferences the regular season becomes as long, tedious and worthless as an “Around the Horn” marathon.

 

Of course the NCAA does not care about any of this.  They are much more concerned with making the case that a football playoff will not work because of “missed class”, while simultaneously setting up a system for basketball in which teams are forced to miss 7-10 days of class in a row under the new set-up.  Pointing out the hypocrisy is important, but ultimately irrelevant.  In the battle of money vs academics, academics will lose every time.

 

 But my concern is even greater than a missed sociology class.  The NCAA Tournament is the best sporting event in America and its first two days can’t be topped for continuous excitement by any other event.  The NCAA is seeking to take away the beauty of Robert Morris taking Villanova to the wall, Ohio shocking Georgetown or Old Dominion over Notre Dame and replace it with matchups in mediocrity such as Mississippi State vs Quinniapac, Dayton vs Northeastern and Ole Miss vs Illinois State.  Can’t-miss television becomes as forgettable as the play-in game, bracket pools become unruly and unmanageable and the event as a whole takes a severe hit.  Maybe the NCAA believes that the extra revenue makes it all worth it and other problems will fade into the woodwork.  Possibly.  But what is much more likely is that the change to 96 teams dilutes the product to such a degree that the NCAA in the process of tinkering with the one truly valuable and nearly perfect commodity college basketball has, the NCAA destroys what makes it great. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 17, 2010 2:54 pm
 

25 For Thursday: Guarantees on Day One

MATT JONES



The NCAA Tournament kicks off on Thursday and America's collective work production will take a hit that even a Bernake bailout cannot prevent.  Its March Madness time and we kick it off with 16 games on Thursday that will get your juices flowing.  Now in the first round, we know that there is a lot of action going in every direction and it can be difficult to keep up with what is going on at any given moment.  That is what we are for, to make the complex manageable.  So as you watch on Thursday, keep this list in front of you and refer to it often.  It is your Twenty-Five for Thursday NCAA Guarantees:

1.  BYU vs Florida Will Make You Very Happy:  It doesnt matter what game is actually the first action of the NCAA Tournament, I look forward to it with eager anticipation.  This year it happens to be BYU vs Florida, which means that I will watch the opening tap, comment on how BYU looks "better than I would have thought" and place a "friendly" wager on two teams who if they played during the regular season, I would choose working out on a gazelle over watching.  That is just what March does.

2.  Florida's Dan Werner Will Have You Shaking Your Head:  It is not often that a player is so consistenly awful that you wonder how he not only plays, but is able to function in society.  Dan Werner is that player.  Dont say you have not been warned.

3.  Sam Houston State Will Make Announcers Make Stupid Puns:  I probably like Jay Bilas more than any other announcer in America.  But as my former assistant in Washington DC used to say about women who wore to much makeup, "he think he cute!"  I can guarantee some pun about "remembering the Alamo" or "Sam Houston State wont go down like Sam Houston, etc.  He has to do it.  Just forgive him.

4.  You Will be Angry About Which Game You are Getting Assigned at Some Point During the Day:  One of the great parts of the first round of the NCAA Tournament is the fact that there are four games going on at any given moment.  However what is assured is that the game you will want to see wont be on wherever you happen to live.  There is really nothing you can do about this except (a) go watch at a bar, (b) watch the Mega March Madness feature on CBSSports.com or (c) hope that Greg Gumbel will interrupt the game you are watching with updates.  What wont work is throwing your remote at the screen at cursing at Seth Davis.  Trust me, I have tried.

5.   David Koresh's Name Will Come Up in your Bar:  At some point during the telecast, they will mention that Baylor is in Waco, Texas.  Then someone in your group will say, "how do I know Waco?"  Then Branch Dividians are brought up and David Koresh will be mentioned.  Just go ahead and do it early and then you will look like the smart one of the group.

6.  Verne Lundquist Will Mispronounce Names:  This is a guarantee, but I dont look at it as a negative.  In fact, if you play a drinking game for each name that Verne butchers, you are guaranteed fun and a raucous crowd by 3:30 pm.  Just take "Verne" shots (something foreign and exotic) and sit back and smile.  It will make Villanova vs Robert Morris much more entertaining.

7.  Scottie Reynolds Is Still in School:  You know how some guys just seem to be in school forever?  Scottie Reynolds is that guy for me.  I am fairly sure he played with Ed Pickney and Harold McClain after being recruited by old Rollie.  Also on this list, Jon Scheyer, Greivis Vasquez and Luke Harangody.

8.  Murray State Will Beat Vanderbilt:  This is a given. Everyone has it in their bracket.  Just mark it down.

9.  Your Friend Will Tell You He Had Murray State Beating Vanderbilt:  Tell him to just shut about it.  We all had that game and we also had Siena beating Purdue.  You aren't special.  In fact, you would have been more special had you picked Vanderbilt, so seriously shut your mouth before I come over there and show you how little I care about your bracket.

10.  Frank Martin Will Scare Your Children:  Kansas State coach Frank Martin is clinically insane.  Just watch him.  He is an exact twin of the gym teacher on "Beavis and Butthead" and he looks at any point like the vein that is piercing through his skin will simply burst and cause his head to explode, thus forcing Teddy Valentine to give him a technical foul.  It is strange to remember, but he coached Michael Beasley.  How in the world did they not kill each other?

11.  An Old White Guy Will Tell You He Likes Luke Harangody:  Every time I have watched a Notre Dame game, some person (usually old, white and cranky) tells me that Luke Harangody plays "the game the right way" and that he is his favorite player.  Sometimes that person is a former Indiana coach and is paid by a national network to call the games.  Either way it is sad.

12.  You Will Be Fascinated by ODU Coach Blaine Taylor's Moustache:  Seriously it is amazing.  Black, bushy and extending over his lip.  There hasnt been a better one since Magnum P.I.  Watch the Old Dominion vs Notre Dame game just for the moustache.  You wont be disappointed.

13.  "The Butler Did It" Will Be Said by Someone:  Every year that Butler plays, someone makes that reference.  It is like clockwork.  And there hasn't been a working butler in this country outside of the Hamptons and Hollywood in thirty years.  This year it will be Spero Dedes.  Book it.

14.  By The Way, Who is Spero Dedes?:  He is calling the games in San Jose.  I have never heard of him and dont believe there has been a notable Spero since Vice President Agnew.  This must be investigated.

15.  UTEP's Derrick Caracter Will Dominate and Frustrate:  He is big, he is chubby and he is talented.  However Derrick Caracter has burned bridges everywhere he has been, most famously under Rick Pitino at Louisville.  At one time he was known as the best high school player in America.  He now finds himself at UTEP with a chance to redeem his reputation nationally in this Tournament.  What will he do? Probably a bit of everything.

16.  You Will Hate Whatever Commercials Are Playing:  If you are a true fan, and I know you are or you would not be reading this article, then you will watch every moment of the First and Second Round.  If you do, you will hate whatever commercials are on the air by the end of the weekend.  I still remember the Enterprise Rent-a-Car one where the woman asks if she should take "red or black" lingerie on their trip and her husband gets a goofy smile and says "both."  The first time I saw it, I had a crush on the woman...by the 500th, I wanted her to take the lingerie and strangle her husband, while the Enterprise Rent-a-Car SUV ran over them both. 

17.  Northern Iowa's Ali Farokhmanesh Will Impress:  Every year there is that one team that has a player who shoots from 25 feet and gets you out of your chair.  This year it is Ali from Northern Iowa.  He may be the best shooter in the Tournament and he is barely 6 feet tall.  He will hit at least one bomb against UNLV that will make you jump up and say "Wow."

18.  A Picture of Jerry Tarkanian Chewing a Towel Will Come on the Screen:  You can't show a UNLV game on television without at least one shot of Tark and a towel.  Its mandated by Congress.

19.  Demarcus Cousins' Attitude Will Be Mentioned:  During every Kentucky game played, there will be a skirmish for a loose ball, Demarcus Cousins will be involved and the announcer will say "he has a temper, he needs to calm down."  It happens every game, quickly followed by the announcer saying, "if Kentucky is going to win in this Tournament, Cousins will have to keep his cool." 

20.  You Will Not Watch Marquette vs Washington:  Its totally unwatchable basketball.  Grind it out, punch each other in the face, game in the 50s.  If this game were a movie, it would be anything starring Sandra Bullock, pre-"Blind Side."  Avoid at all costs.

21.  Having Said That, Marquette is the Lock of the Year:  Washington has literally no chance of winning this game...NO CHANCE.  Right now the line is a pick 'em...Vegas didnt watch Washington play and neither did you.  They won the Pac 10 Tournament, but you, me, Spero Dedes, Dan Werner and Ali from Northern Iowa could have won the Pac 10 Tournament this year.  Put it all on Marquette.

22.  A Shot of John Thompson Will Come on the Screen:  I dont mean JT III, who coaches Georgetown now, but the elder Thompson.  And I will continue to be amazed at how large that man is.  6'8" (at least), probably 325 pounds and a towering figure like none other.  The thought of him even scares me right now.

23.  You Wont Be Able to Tell the Morris Twins Apart:  Absolutely impossible to do.  Their parents named them Marcus and Markieff, the oddest assortment of names for twins since my high school's Nathan and Nathaniel.  Look at the two of them and try to figure out which is which.  You know how they say that parents can tell twins apart based on slight physical differences?  For the Morris Twins, the only differences are in the tattoos.

24. Rick Barnes Is Not Coaching:  Rick Barnes has not coached a game in the last two months of this season.  Actually let me strike that...Rick Barnes has not coached a game WELL in the last two months of this season.  On Thursday night versus Wake Forest, he will be on the sideline talking, but rest assured what he is doing can't be quantified as "coaching."  His players aren't listening, no plays are being executed and chaos is reigning.  But be calm, this is normal.

25.  The Night Will End with the Biggest Upset of the Day:  San Diego State is going to beat Tennessee.  The Fighting Headbands from Knoxville will fall on a late three by Steve Fisher's bunch and Bruce Pearl will walk into the locker room dejected, ending the year with yet another disappointing postseason. 

So there you go.  Twenty-five guarantees for Day One.  There were going to be more, but Frank Martin is outside my window and I need to go lock the door.

Posted on: March 15, 2010 3:31 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2010 5:46 pm
 

The NCAA Tourney Preview: South Region

C.M. TOMLIN


If you are a sports fan, and you happen to have a friend who owns a camera of some sort, or there happens to be a camera in your immediate vicinity, you have undoubtedly been tapped by a major network by now to put on a suit and tie (or, ladies, a sensible pantsuit) and go in front of that camera and talk about the upcoming NCAA Tournament. You will have probably done the pre-requisite "guessing of a first upset" and "broken down the one-seeds," for this is what people who comment on the NCAA Tournament in the 72 hours post-selection-show do. You will have probably made some comments about the selections, and whether you agreed with the selection committee or did not, and everyone is probably in awe of your incredible basketball prowess. 

If any of the above is the case, the following information about the South Region will come as no surprise. For the rest of us, it may not be a terrible idea to take a closer look at the people and storylines you're likely to encounter in this region over the next several days.

The Locations (First Round)

New Orleans - Thursday: Notre Dame (6) vs. Old Dominion (11), Baylor (3) vs. Sam Houston State (14)

Providence - Thursday: Villanova (2) vs. Robert Morris (15), Richmond (7) vs. Saint Mary's (10)

Jacksonville - Friday: Duke (1) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff/Winthrop (play-in game tomorrow),   California (8) vs. Louisville (9) 

Spokane  - Friday: Purdue (4) vs. Siena (13), Texas A&M (5) vs. Utah State (12)

The Storylines

Did Duke Deserve This Region? Many are harping that Coach K and his Blue Devils have the cushiest of regions in the South, considering their number two seed Villanova didn't even make the semifinals of their tournament and by all accounts is the weakest two in the entire tournament. But as we all know, it's very, very important for Duke to stay as close to home as possible, just in case Coach K forgets something and needs to run home. Some believe Baylor could be a dark horse to unseat Duke but...oh, c'mon, you're not gonna hear any of that on the love fest found on every channel. So let's just pretend they're going to win the region and all act super-surprised when they get upset, okay?

Cal vs. Louisville should be a great game. Cal won Pac-10 regular season play but couldn't hang on to beat Washington in the Pac-10 Finals. Louisville is a pale imitation of what it was this time last year. That said, this eight and nine seed matchup could produce a potential joker in the deck for a later round. Cal's Jerome Randle is the school's new all-time leading scorer, and if he's allowed to perform, the Cards have a tough time. If he's shut down, Louisville's cast should handle the Golden Bears easily. Either way, both teams have potential to play above their seeding, so don't be surprised if whoever comes out of this game throws a wrench into the South's proceedings.

Siena is way overhyped as a pre-packaged Cinderella team. Listen. In the next week you're going to hear a ton of people on television and at your workplace telling you to "mark it down!" that Siena is a lock to beat Purdue. This is because a.) Purdue's beatable, and b.) none of those people have ever actually watched Siena play, they've just heard things about them. The truth is that the Saints may have run off with their conference, but that's because the MAAC was terrible this year. They also looked really good against Butler a few weekends ago in a bracket-buster. But if you watched the MAAC tournament, you'd have seen Siena struggle with Manhattan, Rider and Fairfield. I'm not believing the hype. But maybe it's just me.

Richmond can beat Villanova. We're all used to seeing the spiders in a twelve seed or higher, and you have to take into account the psychology of not realizing a team you're used to only seeing eek into the tournament suddenly be a contender. That's exactly the role Richmond's in right now, and Villanova seems to be fading toward the end of this season. If you don't think Villanova's beatable, you clearly didn't watch the last three weeks of their season, where they've lost five of their last seven games. If the Wildcats underestimated Marquette, there's no chance they don't underestimate Richmond.

Did you ever see Godzilla Vs. Rodan? Because that's what it's going be when Notre Dame's 6'8" Luke Harangody faces Old Dominion's 6'10" Gerald Lee in the first round to see who can lumber the best. Those guys are gonna look like two runaway Mardi Gras floats. Let's hope St. Mary's 6'11", 265-pound Omar Samhan doesn't get wind of this or this thing's going to look like a scene from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Utah State vs. Texas A&M will confuse you. This is because they are both called the Aggies. Texas A&M is maroon and Utah State is blue. Don't listen to Vern Lundquist, because he will be losing his mind trying to call this game.

If you think Sam Houston State will beat Baylor, you probably go to Sam Houston State or play on the team. You should visit the school's official site here and chat with your friends/teammates on the message boards there. 

There's an Olive Garden on Universal Boulevard in Providence. You need me to go ahead and make you reservations for Saturday night, Robert Morris? We'll see if they can turn on the games for you in the bar there.

So how does it end?

Sure, Duke has the easiest path out of its region -- but for the sake of argument, let's also point out that Duke's the weakest of all the one seeds. That would signify that they're not a total lock to get out of the South. Who is it, then? Might be better to say who it's not. It's probably not Villanova and it's probably not Purdue. And no, stop it already -- it's not Siena. No one's really talking about the Baylor Bears, who could stage a bit of a coup, and Notre Dame's actually a little better than you might think. This is the wackiest region, so let's just pick the wackiest possibility:

See you in the Final Four, Old Dominion!


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 14, 2010 6:47 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2010 7:51 pm
 

15-Seed Robert Morris Is Bowling -- Er, Dancing

C.M. TOMLIN

In NCAA tournament play, it has by and large been an unspoken law of the basketball cosmos that schools named after a person (first and last name, it should be noted) don't traditionally perform well. Oral Roberts University. Sam Houston State. Jim J. Bullock Technical Institute. The University of Colorado at Hal Linden.

That's not to say that there aren't exceptions to this rule. Our hearts were stolen away by a plucky George Mason team in 2006, for instance, when the Patriots famously crashed the Final Four. And this year another team based on a lesser-known constitutional conventioneer hopes to do the same. The Robert Morris University Colonials, who just won their bid by squeaking past Quinnipiac and stealing the Northeast Conference Tournament, picks up a fifteen seed today in hopes of dazzling us all and offing number two Villanova in the South Region.

A private university in Moon Township, Pennsylvania -- a suburb of Pittsburgh -- Robert Morris University began in 1921 as the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy, and that institution became Robert Morris Junior College in 1962, Robert Morris College in 2002, and will likely become Robert Morris Space Station in 2067. Taking the name of a Continental Congressman who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the team adopted the moniker of the Colonials, so there would be little doubt that everyone was really into the whole "1770's" theme.

But while basketball is king in Moon right now, however, bowling's big. How big? The well-established Robert Morris men's bowling team are regular national contenders and have produced several bowling professionals. And Colonials basketball head coach Mike Rice even took his boys bowling after the quarterfinals of this year's NEC tourney to clear their heads.  They were going to need it if they were going to continue their trek and eventually face rival and one-seed Quinnipiac.

It worked. The Colonials eventually faced the Bobcats in the NEC finals, where solid defense and two well-placed free throws earned them the NEC Championship. And now Robert Morris finds itself in the deep end of the pool again, a fifteen seed assumedly being prepared for sacrifice next weekend to a juggernaut. But they have a little ammunition. After all, Karon Abraham was the NEC freshman of the year and a fresh force behind the Colonials, and point guard Velton Jones has stepped in to shoulder the duties left after his predecessor Jimmy Langhurst suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Despite cleared heads and good intentions however, they're still a fifteen seed playing Villanova. And that's one tough row to hoe. But senior Rob Robinson thinks the Colonials could surprise. "Shock the world," he says.

The Colonials might want to hit the bowling alley again. Just to be safe.




Posted on: March 8, 2010 3:00 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2010 4:51 pm
 

Five for Fighting


JOHN WILKINSON

The NCAA Tournament is set to deliver four more bids tonight as Conference Championship week #2 tips off, but for the five schools with hands already stamped, the waiting game is now the formidable foe. Let's take a quick look into the waiting room, where knees and champagne are iced, and dated periodicals and Kiss FM will have to suffice until Sunday. 

 

 

Cornell  (Ivy League)

Mascot: Big Red

Record: 27-4

Projected seed: 10-12

 

 

 

 

 

The Big XII will send 7 or 8 teams to the big dance this season and could potentially have two #1 seeds, and still, only one team managed to scare the Kansas Jayhawks on their home floor all season...yep, Cornell. Boasting an ever-so-rare senior laden starting lineup, Cornell ran roughshod through the Ivy League and secured their second straight spot in the NCAA Tourney. This time, however, the Big Red should receive a much more favorable draw with the potential to make a run to the Sweet 16 behind a lethally accurate 3-point barrage and what else, but a gritty, intelligent approach to the game. The Washington Post's Sultan of Sentiment, John Feinstein, profiled the team in February and discovered that the entire team lives together in an off-campus house. Which, of course got me thinking...what happens when 14 teammates, picked to live in the same house,  stop being polite, and start being real? 

 

Mark Coury, forward: Umm, who ate my last string cheese?

Geoff Reeves, guard: Dude, don't you even look at me. You know I'm lactose intolerant. 

Coury: Yes, I know all about your gastrointestinal deficiencies as a result of enzymatic short-comings, but I need some answers. And I need cheese!

Jeff Foote, Center: What are you crying about now, Mark? Another B in organic chem? 

Reeves: Someone ate his cheese. 

Coury: Fine, I'm calling a house meeting. Game room, 10 minutes. 

Coury: (in confessional booth) It wasn't so much about the actual cheese as it was respect. Look, I can always go get more cheese at the grocery store but they don't sell loaves of respect. They also don't sell ginger ale, which really perturbs me. 

 


Winthrop (Big South)

Mascot: Eagles

Record: 19-13

Projected seed: 15

 

To most low-majors, simply earning a trip to the big show is enough to hang the proverbial hat, but for Winthrop, it's a habit. The Big South Tournament champs for the 9th time in 11 seasons are playing their best ball of the season at precisely the right time and will look to put a their patented scare into their first round opponent. In 2006, a 15-seeded Winthrop came up just two points shy of knocking off 2-seed Tennessee, and in 2007 as an 11-seed, stunned 6-seeded Notre Dame in what proved to be an upset on paper only. This year's Eagles don't appear quite as dangerous as in brackets of the past, but an unusually vulnerable slate of potential two seeds better take this tournament-tested bunch seriously. 

 

 

East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun)

Mascot: Buccaneers

Record: 20-14

Projected seed: 16

 

The Bucs enter the dance for the second consecutive season winners of their last six, and appear bound for bloodshed as an ornamental 16-seed. The Atlantic Sun was fairly mediocre this season even by low-major standards and their signature win against the Arkansas B-team merits only a golf clap, but back-to-back league crowns in an impressive feat nontheless, eh Ken?

 

Hey folks, Kenny Chesney here, pop-country chart topper, beach bum, and proud ETSU alum. I'm in the middle of recording my next album right now, Puka Shells n' Cheese, but you can bet I'll be in attendance to watch my Bucs in the big dance. I'll be sittin' courtside in my old rickety rockin' chair with a big ol' jug of sweet tea. I remember watching this team win the conference last year and thinkin, man, that's something that just don't happen twice, but lo and behold, here we are again, and I can proudly say I never wanted nothing more...well, other than Jimmy Buffet's career, of course. 

Toodles, 

KC

 





Murray State (Ohio Valley)

Mascot: Racers

Record: 30-4

Projected seed: 12-13

 

The Racers dominated the OVC this season and notched their NCAA leading 30th win dispatching defending champ Morehead State in the finals. Murray might be the most balanced team in the entire tourney, with all five starters averaging 10ppg. Second in the nation in FG%, third in scoring margin and fifth in steals, Murray has the ability on both sides of the ball to make a run at the Sweet 16. 

 

 

Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)

Mascot: Panthers

Record: 28-4

Projected seed: 8-10

 

Trust me, nobody wants to meet UNI in the first round because the Panthers will certainly make you earn it. Second nationally in scoring defense at 55ppg, UNI dominated a stacked MVC tourney by allowing just 132 total points in three games. Aside from conquering MVC foes, UNI throttled Big Conference bottom-feeders Boston College and Iowa this season, which doesn't say much, but they'll likely draw one of the numerous mediocre teams from the power leagues in the first round and notch at least one win in the dance. Who knows, their savage approach to defense could certainly propel them even further and into immortality like two-time NFL MVP, one-time Cedar Falls bag boy, and UNI alum Kurt Warner. 

Now that, is immortality. 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com