Field of 68: Field of Dreams

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This year’s NCAA tournament field is all set, with 68 teams ready to begin play. The first four games will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday, a preliminary round of sorts before the main field of 64 begins on Thursday and Friday.

Outsider Teams

As always, there are those teams left out who believe they should have been included. St. Mary’s appeared to be a lock for the tournament, ranked as high as #23 nationally before faltering late. The Gaels finished at 25-8, but should take comfort in making the N.I.T. The 19-14 Maryland Terrapins, missed out on both tournaments, ending 17 consecutive years of post season participation.

The top four seeds go to Ohio State, the University of Kansas, Duke and Pitt, who are the #1 seeds in the East, West, Southwest and Southeast respectively.

Pitt, of course, is from the Big East Conference, a league which has a record 11 teams in this year’s tournament, three more than the previous record. Although the Big East has the most teams, they aren’t guaranteed anything. In fact, in other years when the BE has flooded the tournament with teams, the league didn’t fare too well. Last year the league got eight teams in, but it’s lone Final Four representative, West Virginia, was pounded by eventual champion Duke.

Other Tournaments

Teams left out of the NCAA and N.I.T. may still see post season action if they accepted invitations from a pair of additional post season tournaments: the 24-team CollegeInsider.com Invitational Tournament or the 16-team College Basketball Invitational. The CIT is in its third year of operation and the the CBI is in its fourth year.

All told, 140 of the 350 schools fielding Division 1 Men’s Basketball teams have a shot at the post season this year. Clearly, the NCAA tournament is the most prestigious of all four tournaments, but if your team misses the cut, there is still a chance you’ll see some post season action if invited by one of three post season tournaments.

Who do we think will win it all this year? That would be Duke, last year’s champion and perennial tournament hot team. Expect Ohio State, Kansas and Pitt to make it to the Final Four with the Blue Devils.

See Also

2011 Final Four Overview & Notes

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