Sunday, March 17, 2013

3/17 (Selection Sunday) Quickie

Join the Daily Quickie Readers group of the Tournament Challenge.

Best sports day of the year? Today is on the short list, if only for that sliver of an hour tonight when Greg Gumbel reads the pairings on the 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket.

I have a tradition going back decades where I scrawl them all down by hand as he says them, then immediately afterward pick the bracket all the way through -- the crushing self-doubt, changes (and change-backs) come later in the night, through Monday morning.

Regardless, there is a day of hoops left. Of the eight teams playing today, 7 are tournament locks and one (Ole Miss) has probably done enough to get itself one of the final at-large bids, even if it doesn't beat Florida for the SEC automatic bid. Today isn't about "must-win" as much as "must-see."

If you want to do well in your pool, there is one game you must watch: Saint Louis vs. VCU. It doesn't matter who wins -- but you must pay attention to how they play. Both teams are strong contenders to make runs to the Sweet 16... possibly the Elite Eight and even the Final Four. Of all of the non-"power" conference teams, these two are the most likely to crash the Final Four. (1-seed Gonzaga doesn't count, because it is... well... a 1-seed; New Mexico is a Sweet 16 team, but I wonder about their offense when they meet elite defensive teams in the second weekend.)

Of the other three games, Miami is fascinating -- nouveau riche on the scene. There are always a few that pull 2- and 3-seeds and flame out in the first weekend. Is Miami one of them?

Ohio State is a Final Four contender (as is Wisconsin, if they can find the offense). Florida is a Final Four contender (and I'm thrilled if experts want to keep sleeping on them -- what I'm looking for with Florida is where they are sent, not seeded).

But even as a Florida fan, the game I'm paying attention to today is the Atlantic 10 title game in Brooklyn between the bruising Billikens and VCU's "Havoc."


*Louisville wins Big East: Also on the short list of Final Four contenders. Great defense, more than good enough offense.

*Kansas wins Big 12: See Louisville. Great D, good enough on offense.

*Indiana loses: Everything you need to know about the uncertainty at the top of college hoops this season is captured by the fact that Indiana and Duke both lost before getting to their conference finals and are still locks as 1-seeds. The bracket is as wide-open this year as it wasn't last year.

Fire up the and get ready for tonight.

-- D.S.

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