I'll be totally honest: when I first got the OK to work from home, this was the time of year I was looking forward to the most. Being home to watch the first round of the NCAA Tournament, without taking time off from work, is a dream come true. I got a taste last week with the conference tournaments, and on Thursday the Madness begins in earnest.
Some thoughts on the bracket...
There is absolutely no way that the Kentucky Wildcats belong in this field. Deserving teams like Illinois State and VCU get left out while Kentucky gets in because they're Kentucky. I don't care what their conference record was; if, say, South Carolina or Auburn has the same season in the same conference, they don't get in. Kentucky is not a good team. I'll be very surprised if they make it past the first round, and mildly surprised if they even manage to make it a close game.
I have to wonder what Butler did to get screwed over so righteously. They finish the season at 29-3, ranked #10 in the country...and they get a 7 seed. What? Can someone please explain to me how they're any lower than a 4? Moreover, they're matched up against South Alabama in the first round...in Birmingham, Alabama. If they should win that game, they'll likely go up against Tennessee, the best 2 seed in the tourney. Seems to me that someone wants Butler out as quickly as possible.
Now, with all that said...there are always some quibbles about teams getting in or being left out, and where they're seeded, but I think any call to expand or reform the tournament (mostly by TV and radio talking heads who just need something to fill time on ridiculously long tournament specials) is misguided. This is far and away the best event in sports, particularly the first two rounds, and I've yet to hear any suggestions that would do anything but destroy that magic. The NCAA Tournament is lightning in a bottle. Maybe it's not perfect, but trying to "fix" it is a terrible idea.
There are some fantastic matchups on this bracket, and I can't wait to see how they play out. I'm letting them marinate in my mind right now in preparation for filling out my bracket sometime today. I'll be on the couch for as much of the tournament as possible (in HD, I might add). I'll probably try to make it down to UD Arena on Tuesday night for the Opening Round game between Coppin State and Mount St. Mary's--I've always wanted to go, since it's in Dayton every year, but this is the first time I've had a chance to do so.
Of course, the 2008 tournament marks 40 years since the last time (1968) the BGSU Falcons were included. This year's team finished with a loss to Toledo in the first round of the MAC Tournament, ending at 13-17 and 7-9 in the MAC. The conference record is better than last year (3-13), the overall record nearly the same (13-18), and with everyone on this year's team (theoretically) returning next year, there should be even more improvement. I'm incredibly disappointed that they ended the season with three losses in a row, especially when their last victory was over #23 Kent State, who went on to win the MAC championship. Still, there's plenty of talent and potential on this team, so hopefully the 40-year drought won't continue much longer. Here's hoping, anyway.