Monday, March 14, 2011

NCAA Tournament Preview: The First Four

We'll follow the same basic template as last year for the postseason games. NCAA Tournament games will get the expanded previews like below, wherein I'll add a thought or two on each matchup. The NIT and lesser tournaments will get the Today's Games treatment, with the games presented in the tabular format, and some commentary below whenever I feel it necessary.

6:30 Tuesday, Dayton65.9 possessions
By just about any measure, UNC-Asheville is not one of the four worst teams in the field, but the NCAA is surely reluctant to seed both of the automatic qualifier teams from the HBCU leagues into the play-in round. So while Hampton prepares for a ritual slaughter at the hands of Duke, Asheville is on a charter plane to Dayton.

9:00 Tuesday, Dayton59.1 possessions
If the seed lines are to be believed, these are the last two at-large teams invited to the Tournament. In most years, the last at-large in the field is a 13-seed. The inclusion of UAB and VCU instead of Colorado and Virginia Tech has drawn considerable outrage, but the fact that the last 21 lines on the S-curve are occupied by automatic qualifiers is a sure indicator that there was a good deal more bid thievery that took place in the conference tournaments than we all realized.

6:30 Wednesday, Dayton64.3 possessions
16Alabama St.26.8%60.643.521.937.024.9
Someone on the committee really wanted to save the scoreboard operator in Dayton some time. Or perhaps with only 48 hours between the announcement of the field and  tipoff the NCAA wanted the banners to take as little time to produce as possible. How else does one explain the alphabet soup that's converging there for the First Four games?

9:00 Wednesday, Dayton62 possessions
I really thought the compromise reached by the NCAA on the makeup of the First Four participants would have elicited more negative reaction than it has. I figured that once people saw the thing in practice, they'd either be clamoring for more exciting matchups of bubble teams, or they'd be decrying the complete lack of fairness that the compromise solution brought about. Somehow, neither has come about, and it's probably because the Committee blew their selections so badly that it's sucked all the oxygen out of the conversation that should be going on right now. Hopefully as we get into Monday and Tuesday someone will notice how ridiculous the whole situation is.

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