Bracket Briefing: What we know
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Good morning, and welcome to the first installment of Bracket Briefing, our attempt to provide the essential info on the Big Dance — forecasting the Ali Farokhmaneshs before they spark the stunning upset we’re talking about for days.
At the water cooler:
Selection Sunday always creates predicaments. For one, you likely won’t be able to focus at work while trying to sort out your Final Four picks. For others (ahem, Ashley Judd), is it even worth doing a NIT bracket? Kentucky headlined this year’s class of NCAA tournament snubs, but Tennessee might have been the biggest head-scratcher. The Vols (20-12, 11-7, RPI of 59) won eight of their last 10. A predicted de-facto play-in game against Alabama in the SEC semifinals didn’t go Tennessee’s way and that, combined with seven league losses in a down SEC, burst the team’s bubble. Coach Cuonzo Martin, previously snubbed by the committee while coaching Missouri State in 2010, was not happy. The committee doesn’t think much of the Pac-12, either, seeding Oregon low at No. 12 and giving Arizona a No. 6 seed. Colorado (10 seed) and California (12 seed) also suffered.
Bracket advice: A No. 1 seed has never lost in the first round. Don’t expect that to change. Upsets to No. 4 and No. 5 seeds are common. This year’s best early-round upset bets would be: No. 13 South Dakota State over No. 4 Michigan; No. 11 Bucknell over No. 6 Butler; and No. 12 Ole Miss over Wisconsin.
March Madness’ madman: Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson. Read this.
Regional rundown: Ranking the toughest regionals
1. Midwest: The Big East co-champs (Louisville), the top-ranked team from the ACC (Duke), the Big Ten runner-up (Michigan State), the Atlantic 10 champs (Saint Louis), the Big 12 runner-up (Oklahoma State), the Conference USA champs (Memphis), the Missouri Valley champs (Creighton) and the Mountain West runner-up (Colorado State) are all here.
2. South: The Big 12 co-champs (Kansas), the Big East co-champs (Georgetown), the SEC champs (Florida), a former top-ranked team (Michigan), the Atlantic 10 runner-up (VCU), and the Pac-12 champs (UCLA).
3. West: The nation’s top-ranked team … [For more on Bracket Briefing: What we know and what we don't know, click here.]