March Madness & the Run Up to Selection Sunday

March Madness & the Run Up to Selection Sunday

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This Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, but for basketball fans it is better known as Selection Sunday. That’s when the NCAA tournament selection committee chooses the teams that will participate in this year’s march madness event with no clear-cut favorite, at least not right now.

West Coast Champions

The top-ranked team in the nation is Gonzaga, winner Monday night of the West Coast Conference championship. The Bulldogs beat up on St. Mary’s to win the crown and have secured a berth in the tournament. The Zags join nine other teams that have also gained automatic entry with more teams getting in throughout this week and on through the weekend.

Although Gonzaga is ranked first, they are ranked No. 5 in the basketball power index. The BPI is considered a more accurate measurement of a team’s strength, or a scientific approach that considers strength of schedule, quality of wins and other factors. Yet, when it comes to choosing the teams that will get in, the NCAA’s RPI is king. The RPI, however, ranks teams differently, pushing Gonzaga to the No. 11 spot according to ESPN estimates.

Top Seeds

Zag fans shouldn’t be concerned though as bracketology guru Joe Lunardi has Gonzaga in as the top seed in the west regional. Duke, Louisville and Indiana hold the other three top seeds according to Lunardi.

Besides Gonzaga’s ascendancy this year, the big news is the shake up in the conference rankings or the likelihood that a certain number of teams from a conference will make it to the Big Dance.

Conference Strength

As expected, the Big East Conference should send eight teams to the tournament, followed by the Big Ten with seven. The Mountain West, not one of the Power Six conferences, will likely send five as should the Pac-12, Big 12, the Atlantic 10 and the ACC. Down the list is the SEC with perhaps just three teams making it in. Of course, if there are tournament upsets along the way, then certain bubble teams might get shoved out…or in.

One thing is for sure, two perhaps once the seedings are announced. Come Sunday night, there will be the usual stunned fans including some that will insist that their team was overlooked. For those teams locked out, an invitation to the NIT, CBI or CIT will have to do.

The other matter has to do with productivity as college students and the average worker will find themselves sleep deprived and perhaps not up to their full potential for the three weeks that the NCAA tournament will run. That’s the price of March Madness, a condition that will ease after the April 8th championship game to be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

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