10 key questions before March Madness
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
Good morning, college basketball fans, and welcome to selection Sunday.
For many, today is a national holiday. The weeks of debate, the hours poring over RPI numbers, the late nights watching obscure West Coast teams, it all culminates a little after 6 p.m. when that 68-team NCAA tournament bracket is finally unveiled.
The tournament selection committee remains holed up in a downtown Indianapolis hotel, where it is attempting to select the best 37 at-large teams to join 31 automatic qualifiers. The committee typically spends Sunday mornings repeatedly voting to select the remaining at-large teams and planning for contingencies if a variety of wacky results occur in today’s conference tournament games.
Committee chair Mike Bobinski has said that, ideally, the committee would like to begin seeding teams a little after noon so the bracket can be finished a fair amount of time before the start of CBS’ 6 p.m. selection show. One year, he said, the committee had its own buzzer-beater, finishing the bracket some 15 minutes before the show was to start.
Given the unprecedented parity across the nation, Bobinski said seeding teams in the middle of the field could present the committee with its greatest challenge this particular season because the separation among those teams is so slight. And, as always, selecting the final at-large teams produces the most tense moments, because it determines whether a team will compete or not, and such decisions could affect coaches’ job security.
When the bracket is revealed, it will undoubtedly prompt some second-guessing among fans, as well as nationwide fretting over all-important issues like which 12 seed to pick to win in the first round. It will lead to celebration or disappointment in college towns such as Murfreesboro, Tenn., College Park, Md., and Oxford, Miss., among others.
And it will answer these 10 most intriguing bracket-related questions:
1. In addition to Louisville and Indiana, who else will earn top seeds?
The picture is cloudier than normal this season. Other prime contenders all have unique, somewhat flawed résumés. Two of these three teams – Duke, Kansas, Gonzaga – will likely earn the other two No. 1 seeds.