Here we are at the end of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament and my bracket is still intact.
That’s not to say that I didn’t take some heat through the first two rounds but my Final Four (and most of my Elite Eight for that matter) are still intact.
Every year, I pore over the brackets trying to pick out the team that will make a special run this year. And every year I feel like I am behind.
The recent trend has been “mid majors” that make deep runs (George Mason making the Final Four last year) along the way, upsetting the top dogs and leaving brackets in tatters. It is almost expected that these double digit seeds will throw a wrench into every office pool.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case this year.
In the first round, with the exception of Notre Dame and Duke who were two of the more vulnerable top seeds, all the favored teams made it through to play another day.
What happened to Oral Roberts, Davidson, Old Dominion, Long Beach State, Albany, Holy Cross, Pennsylvania and Wright State?
At least one of these small, unknown schools always comes in and makes a name for themselves by sending home a title contender early, right?
That changed this year.
The answer to why lies in the seeding.
Teams from “mid major” conference such as Southern Illinois and Butler have turned the tables when they play hard non conference schedules and win, thus securing high seeds (#4 and #5, respectively).
By shedding the “looking for an upset” shell that smaller schools have always had they have begun to have a championship mentality that used to be reserved for top teams from the big time conferences.
This, along with the shake ups that top teams experience every year with players leav-ing for the NBA, means that the smaller teams that maintain their rosters and build a cohesive unit are no longer just a threat for a first weekend upset.
They are beating teams all year long and coming into the tournament as forces to be reckoned with.
This has not only left us with an even harder tournament to predict but has given us a completely volatile and thus super exciting post season tournament.