If It’s March, It Must Be … Madness!

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If you’ve been living under a rock, have been out of the country, or simply aren’t paying attention to every station on television, let me inform you that the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is under way.

In its new format, 68 teams have the chance to take home the title. However, purists – and anybody who knows anything about the sport – believs that the tournament actually started Thursday after the four play-in games narrowed the field to 64.

If you forgot to fill out your bracket or just haven’t seen one, here is a quick wrap up of storylines you need to know.

Pittsburgh has the easiest draw of the No. 1 seeds but by all rights shouldn’t be a 1-seed.  That honor should have gone to Notre Dame, the 2-seed of the Southwest region, seeing as the Irish beat Pitt in Pittsburgh.

Clemson, VCU and UAB made it into the field of 68 while overly deserving teams like Colorado, Virginia Tech, and Harvard are watching from home.  Of those three, Colorado is by far the biggest snub.  Let’s just say this – Colorado beat Kansas State three times this season, and K-State is a 5-seed!

Clemson didn’t have a single win against the top 50 this year and were a puzzling pick, but proceeded to trounce UAB Tuesday night.  A UAB team that only had a single victory this year against a top 50 team (VCU).

The whole thing is a bit convoluted, but we’re talking about the last few teams in, so it’s not like any of those schools have a real chance at advancing deep into the tournament.  Mostly the committee got things right, aside from Florida being a 2-seed and Villanova being a 9-seed after finishing the season 5-10.

VCU took on USC in a play-in game between two 11-seeds in the Southwest region and the winner will take on Georgetown tonight.  USC head coach Kevin O’Neill was suspended for the Pac-10 semifinal after a verbal confrontation with a fan and is eager to get back on the sidelines.  UCLA is a 7-seed over in the Southwest region, by far the weakest of the four, and has a decent shot at advancing to the Sweet 16 after a likely meeting with Florida in the second round.

With this new format the second round is technically the third round, but I refuse to abide by that.

A 2-seed with a real chance of going deep in the tournament is San Diego State.  If the Aztecs can put up a decent shooting percentage, they’ll be tough to beat.  They’ll have to get past Connecticut and eventually either Duke or Texas, but they should be an absolute lock for the Sweet 16.

So go out to your local watering hole this weekend to take in all of the action.  Rudy’s down on the Peninsula is a particularly nice spot to watch all of the games, but be sure to get there early because it gets crowded in a hurry!

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