Here’s the bad news for those of us who must endure winter: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Friday, which means we have six more weeks of winter ahead of us.
The good news?
We are six weeks away from the real start of the college basketball season known as March Madness, which is conference tournament play, followed by three weeks of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which remains the greatest sustained (more than a week) sporting event in the country.
So here at TMG, we are announcing the start of another season of bracketology–TMG reached a milestone last season by correctly predicting all 68 tournament teams–and projections on the post season.
We will start slowly and merely pick the field–without full brackets–for a few weeks.
So here’s the first breakdown, with the 32 automatic qualifiers and the 36 at-large picks.
Automatic qualifiers (32)
Atlantic 10–Rhode Island
Atlantic Coast Conference–Virginia
Atlantic Sun–Florida Gulf Coast
Big West–UC-Santa Barbara
Colonial Athletic Association–Charleston
Conference USA–Middle Tennessee
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference–Rider
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference–Savannah State
Missouri Valley Conference–Loyola-Chicago
Mountain West Conference–Boise State
Ohio Valley Conference–Belmont
Southern Conference–East Tennessee State
Southland Conference–SF Austin
Southwestern Athletic Conference–Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Summit Conference–South Dakota State
Sun Belt Conference–Louisiana
West Coast Conference–Saint Mary’s
Western Athletic Conference–New Mexico State
AT LARGE (36)
33. Wichita State
39 North Carolina
40 Virginia Tech
41. Florida State
42. Texas Tech
44. West Virginia
45. Kansas State
48. Seton Hall
53. Ohio State
54. Michigan State
65. Texas A&M
66. Arizona State
67. NC State
Free Throws–The No. 1 seeds are starting to get set in concrete. Purdue looks like a solid choice in the Midwest, Virginia in the South and Villanova in the East. The West remains in play, without a dominant team, which means a team like Kansas as the Big 12 champion could slide into that spot. Auburn, as the SEC champion, could also fill the slot….The ACC looks solid for 9 bids, while the Big East could easily have 7 of its 10 teams in the tournament…The A10 looks like a one-bid league, unless URI is upset in the conference tournament….The Big 10, which is not having a good season, will play its conference tournament in New York’s Madison Square Garden, but it will be held a week earlier than usual to avoid a conflict with the Big East, which basically owns the rights to the Garden during tournament week for the next several years. The only problem with that is that Big 10 teams will have an extra week of idleness, which can be a good and bad thing.