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Beyond the Arc: The Quest for 65

Admit it: You missed me. Or you completely didn't realize that your last week was devoid of witty game previews and/or witty postgame analyses, largely because I was devoid of free internet access (unless I went to the Hooter's in my hotel that had free Wi-Fi; thing is, if I'm going to Hooter's, it ain't for free Wi-Fi).

brittonI'm not going to analyze tonight's "victory" over Boston College (one interesting point: Even on a night when Kyle Singler had carried Duke and Gerald Henderson had been relatively non-existent, it was Henderson that was the primary option when the Blue Devils needed a bucket); that's a little too depressing. Instead, I'll do what everyone's trying to do this time of year: accurately predict the field of 65.

You see, some years ago I decided that NCAA Tournament pools, what with their "I don't know anything about the teams so I'll just pick the favorites and this team with a cute mascot" winners, weren't for me, mainly because I frequently was knocked out the first weekend for saying things like, "It doesn't make sense, and I can't justify it" when describing my picks (that was Mississippi State over Memphis last year, by the way).

So how to make up for it? By doing something nobody who isn't deeply invested (like, Dungeons and Dragons-style) in college basketball would ever spend their spare time doing: trying to predict the field. Plus, it sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is. Check my track record: I've gotten 64, 64, 63, 62, 63, and 64 teams in my six tries. That's 380 of 390, or 97.4 percent. The caveat? It comes down to picking two or three teams each year--the other 62 are more or less set.

This year's goal, then, is to nail 65 on the head for the first time. And with under 48 hours until Selection Sunday, here's how my bracket shapes up:

Some Notes:

  • Play-in game right now is between Robert Morris and Cal State-Northridge.
  • Teams in caps have automatic bids.
  • Duke appears to have a 2-seed locked up with its win over Boston College tonight. The losses by Kansas, Wake Forest and Villanova have eliminated the Blue Devils' main threats for that spot. If Duke loses to Maryland, it's conceivable although unlikely that Missouri could climb to a two with a victory over Baylor in the Big XII title game.
  • Yep, it sets up for a possible Duke-West Virginia rematch in the second round. And no Blue Devil fan should want to see that.
  • Last four in right now are Michigan, San Diego State, Maryland and Auburn. The first two on that list should be fairly comfortable (the Aztecs could make themselves completely comfortable by beating Utah in the Mountain West final). Maryland is in right now, but the Terps have to root against Baylor, Duquesne and USC tomorrow. None will make the tourney as an at-large, but all have fairly good shots at winning their conference tournaments. Auburn needs to beat Tennessee to stay in the bracket; otherwise, Creighton and Saint Mary's could sneak in.
  • First four out are Creighton, Saint Mary's, Arizona and South Carolina. It will be interesting to see what happens with the SEC, which right now has LSU and Tennessee as its only representatives. Do the Gamecocks, co-champions of the SEC East with a 10-6 record, make it despite having only ONE win over the RPI top 50? And can the Committee leave out two 10-win SEC teams when it has never left one out in the past? Plus, how do you gauge Saint Mary's with the whole Patty Mills injury situation?
  • Seedings change dramatically with how conference tournaments finish. Syracuse has already jumped from a six to a four with its two wins (saw all six non-NCAA Tournament game since they started giving at-large berths to the Tourney) and can climb higher if it beats Louisville. Teams such as Missouri, LSU,  Tennessee, Arizona State, Illinois and Purdue can all move up with wins in their conference tourneys.

I'll be back throughout the weekend as the bubble continues to fluctuate. But what do you think? Does the Committee have the nerve to grant more bids to the Mountain West than to the SEC? Is Duke a No. 2? And what top seed would you like to see the Blue Devils paired with?


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1 North Carolina Pittsburgh Louisville Connecticut
2 Oklahoma Duke Michigan State Memphis
3 Villanova Kansas Wake Forest Missouri
4 Syracuse Illinois Washington UCLA
5 Xavier LSU Purdue Florida State
6 Clemson Arizona State Marquette GONZAGA
7 Tennessee West Virginia Texas Utah
8 Ohio State California Boston College Wisconsin
9 Butler BYU Oklahoma State Texas A&M
10 SIENA Penn State Dayton Minnesota
11 Michigan Temple Utah State San Diego State
12 WESTERN KY Maryland VCU Auburn
15 Morgan State PORTLAND ST. Stephen F. Austin CHATTANOOGA
16 Alabama State Binghamton Play-in MOREHEAD ST.