Monday, November 8, 2010

Bracket Watch '11-Preseason Look At the End Result

Yes, you've heard right. I'm doing a preseason bracket this year. And to put a twist to it, I've decided to dispense with the excuses and predict who will be the lucky 68. First a primer of what happened over the past seven months.

Enter the First Four
Part of the new NCAA tournament structure is the expansion of the segment formerly known as the "Opening Round" to four games(hence the title). Rather than force the eight lowest teams playing off to get creamed by Duke, only the four lowest on the "True Seed List" make it to Dayton. And there are two conferences that won't be there, the Big South and the SWAC. Apparently whoever wins those leagues will be placed in the regular field. The other teams diverted to Southwest Ohio are the four lowest at-large teams, so yes you'll find out who just made it in by the skin of their teeth. Now, I'm not sure if the pairings will be say 47 vs. 50 and 48 vs. 49(like in this projection) or 47 vs. 49 and 50 vs. 48. That will be known at the time of the placement. These games will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday, making it possible that the winners on Tuesday will play on Thursday and the Wednesday winners will play on Friday. That depends on where the placements are.

Turner the page
As I've posted earlier, Turner Broadcasting has joined CBS as a partner in NCAA coverage starting in March. The games will(besides being on CBS) be also shown on TBS, TNT and TruTV, making it very possible that every game will be available nationally. DirecTV could continue offering Mega March Madness as it's own GameMix channel(and available to everyone with DirecTV), but we haven't heard anything on that front.

The conferences they are a changin'
For a period of a day, the college conference landscape was on the verge of massive chaos. In the end, however, it may still explode. But for now, here's a scorecard:

*Nebraska will leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten(giving it 12 teams).
*Colorado will also leave the Big 12, heading for the Pac-12.
*Texas decided to stay put, keeping the Big 12 alive. But if their proposed Longhorn Network gets off the ground(and the Texas Legislature sits on their hands), look for the Horns to unhook themselves from the Big 12 and go independent.
*The Mountain West gained Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada. But they're going to lose Brigham Young(Independent in football, West Coast everywhere else) and Utah(Pac-12), and may still lose Texas Christian to the BIG East.
*The WAC missed out on BYU, and lost it's three highest profile members. Montana, UTSA, Texas State and Seattle may be fallback options.

Now that you're up to date, let's go to March 13th and see what develops.

Final Four Pairings
East(1) vs. West(4)
Southeast(2) vs. Southwest(3)

First Four Matchups(Dayton, OH/UD Arena)
Game A: IUPUI(Summit) vs. Texas-San Antonio(Southland)
Game B: New Mexico vs. Washington State
Game C: Virginia Commonwealth vs. Penn State
Game D: Robert Morris(Northeast) vs. Maine(America East)

2nd and 3rd Rounds:

EAST Region

At Charlotte(Time Warner Cable Arena)
1-Duke(Atlantic Coast) vs. 16-Lafayette(Patriot)
8-Marquette vs. 9-Wichita State
At Denver(Pepsi Center)
4-Illinois vs. 13-Fairfield(Metro Atlantic)
5-Tennessee vs. 12-New Mexico/Washington State
At Washington, DC(Verizon Center)
2-Pittsburgh(Big East) vs. 15-Cornell(Ivy League)
7-Xavier vs. 10-North Carolina State
At Tucson(McKale Center)
3-Baylor vs. 14-Weber State(Big Sky)
6-Wisconsin vs. 11-Connecticut

WEST Region

At Denver
1-Kansas State(Big 12) vs. 16-IUPUI/UTSA
8-Brigham Young vs. 9-Mississippi State
At Tucson
4-Gonzaga(West Coast) vs. 13-Utah State(Western Athletic)
5-Butler(Horizon) vs. 12-Clemson
At Washington, DC
2-Syracuse vs. 15-Belmont(Atlantic Sun)
7-Virginia Tech vs. 10-Dayton(Atlantic 10)
At Chicago(United Center)
3-Purdue vs. 14-Ohio(Mid-American)
6-Washington vs. 11-Texas


At Cleveland(Quicken Loans Arena)
1-Michigan State(Big Ten) vs. 16-Jackson State(Southwestern)
8-Texas A&M vs. 9-UCLA(Pacific-10)
At Tampa(St. Pete Times Forum)
4-West Virginia vs. 13-Wofford(Southern)
5-Florida vs. 12-VCU/Penn State
At Tulsa(BOK Center)
2-Memphis(Conference USA) vs. 15-Morgan State(Mid-Eastern)
7-San Diego State(Mountain West) vs. 10-Minnesota
At Charlotte
3-North Carolina vs. 14-Winthrop(Big South)
6-Villanova vs. 11-Richmond


At Cleveland
1-Kentucky(Southeastern) vs. 16-Robert Morris/Maine
8-Nevada-Las Vegas vs. 9-Northwestern
At Tampa
4-Georgetown vs. 13-William & Mary(Colonial)
5-Missouri vs. 12-Murray State(Ohio Valley)
At Chicago
2-Ohio State vs. 15-North Texas(Sun Belt)
7-Florida State vs. 10-Louisville
At Tulsa
3-Kansas vs. 14-Long Beach State(Big West)
6-Temple vs. 11-Missouri State(Missouri Valley)

First Four left out: Maryland, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia
Next Four in line: Bradley, Saint Louis, Oklahoma State, Texas-El Paso
Also under consideration: Miami, Virginia, Rhode Island, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Colorado, Central Florida, Detroit, Creighton, California, Oregon, Alabama, Fresno State.

Reminder: The first "real" bracket will debut on January 3rd.