The 2011 NCAA basketball tournament is just a little over a week away and the various college basketball conference tournaments are underway all across the country. The NCAA tournament seeding committee has a tough job in formulating the brackets this year, especially given the field has been expanded to 68 with an initial First Four mini-tourney for 2011.
2011 March Madness Preview
It’s that time of the year again. And I’m not just talking about Spring Fever or even Mardi Gras or Carnival. I’m talking March Madness. The Big Dance. Where everybody in almost every town in the U.S. who can scrape up a ticket is baring their chests and painting their face to support their local college basketball team, and those that can’t are calling in sick to work so they can spend the day glued to the television screen in vicarious enjoyment.
And, of course, then there are your brackets. Those wonderfully optimistic, always lovingly filled out, but inevitably scratched-out and lined-through brackets that all college basketball fans sweat over before the NCAA tournament every year. How to fill your brackets out and which teams to fill them in with are the topics of discussion below.
Likely No. 1 Seeds
Ohio State and Kansas are virtual locks for No. 1 seeds regardless of what happens in the conference tourneys. After that things are wide open, with BYU and Pittsburgh probably being the top contenders for the other No. 1 seeds after this weekend’s games.
Likely No. 2 Seeds
There are at least seven or eight teams in contention for No. 2 seeds at this point. The leading contenders are San Diego State, Texas, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Duke, but you can also throw in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Syracuse as longer shot possibilities.
Likely No. 3 and No. 4 Seeds
At least a dozen teams are possibilities here in the middle rungs of the bracket. Realistic third and fourth seeds include Florida, Louisville, Kentucky, Georgetown, Connecticut and Arizona. Other teams to consider include Vanderbilt, Villanova and Utah State.
The Rest of the Pack
You have to figure the rest of the current NCAA Top 25 will show up in the 5th or 6th seeds so throw Missouri, Texas A&M, Xavier, and George Mason into the mix. Kansas State, West Virginia and Washington are also all locks to show up somewhere in the top 8 seeds.
Michigan beat Michigan State yesterday to bolster their not unrealistic hopes for an at-large bid. Colorado also helped their chances as a bubble team with a big win over Nebraska, as did Clemson with their win over Virginia Tech. Maryland also has to be considered a bubble team now with their upset loss to Virginia on Saturday. Boston College’s victory over Wake Forest on Sunday probably also punched the Eagles ticket to the Big Dance.
Bracket Picking Strategies
Take some chances. Pick a live dog and ride that team for several games (if not all the way!). There are ALWAYS quite a few upsets in the Big Dance. That’s why they call it March Madness! Furthermore, history shows that picking the No. 1 seeds all the way to the semifinals gives you no better chance than picking the No. 2 seeds and only a fractionally better chance than picking all the No. 3 seeds to make it all the way through.
Consider some type of systematic variation of you are going to fill out multiple brackets. If you see four teams as having a real shot at winning it all, then set up four different brackets each with a different one of the four on top. Or if you really like one team to win it all, but have half a dozen or more possibilities for who they might meet in the finals, then consider some type of shotgun approach with a different one of the possibilities meeting your top team in the finals in each bracket.
2011 NCAA Tournament Predictions
2011 March Madness Prediction – The Texas Longhorns win it all getting revenge over Pittsburgh in the finals (after beating Kansas for the second time this season in the Final Four). I also expect Notre Dame and Ohio State to make deep runs in the tourney this year.
For more on the 2010-2011 college basketball season and the upcoming NCAA tournament see:
2011 Tournament Preview and Bracket Picks
2011 NCAA BracketMania – How to Pick a Winning NCAA Tournament Bracket
2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview
Fan reaction: Texas Longhorns finish season at 25-6, 13-3 in Big 12