NCAA Tournament 2012: Painful Predictions for the March Madness Selection Show
In the final hours before the annual Division I Men's Basketball Selection Show, nearly all of the 37 automatic bids for the tournament have been decided.
But with 31 other spots up for grabs and all kinds of seeding to sort out, there's plenty to talk about until the selection committee reveals the bracket at 6 p.m. ET.
Some of these issues are small, petty things (like why Kansas State is predicted to have a higher seed than Iowa State after being beaten by them in almost every conceivable way during the season), while some are much bigger (like Northwestern's bid to end their reign of power conference mediocrity).
Here are five predictions of the crazy, painful-if-you-get-it-wrong kind that sports fans love to make when looking at their March Madness brackets.
No. 1 Seeds: Conference Tournaments Shake Up the Seeding
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Kentucky is the clear No. 1 overall seed, regardless of the outcome of the SEC conference final. Syracuse will hold on to the second No. 1 seed, in spite of its early exit from the Big East tournament.
The third and fourth top seeds, however, will likely change hands due to tournament performances. Kansas' early exit, followed by Mizzou's beatdown of Baylor in the Big 12 final, will give the third No. 1 to Missouri.
The final top seed could go to any of four teams, depending on the way the ACC and Big Ten finals turn out. If UNC wins, they'll have the top seed, but a loss could give it to Kansas or the winner of the Big Ten conference tourney (either Ohio State or Michigan State).
The Miserable State of the Pac-12
Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images
The Colorado Buffaloes, the perennial cellar-dwellers of the Big 12, managed to win the automatic bid in the shaky (to put it politely) Pac-12. What does this mean for the conference's hopes for the tourney?
Well, I'll bet that the Missouri Valley Conference has more teams in the field than the Pac-12.
This can happen in one of two ways. Most likely, it would be the result of the Pac-12 sending a single team to the tournament versus the two probable MVC bids.
On the other hand, the MVC might just be able to get three teams in if the committee decides it likes both Illinois State and Wichita State in addition to Creighton.
Either way, it's a decent shot that the mid-major could show up the power conference in a very embarrassing way (but no worse than their season deserved).
Texas' Gain Is Northwestern's Loss
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Northwestern is the only team from one of the six major conferences never to make an NCAA tournament.
That unfortunate tradition is set to continue this year.
Key tournament wins for teams like Texas helped seal the Wildcats' fate, but their lackluster season featured many close losses. They had opportunities to close out games and make a statement for their place in the field, but they ultimately didn't do so.
Accordingly, the worthier bubble teams will edge out Northwestern for that coveted place in March Madness.
Rise and Fall of the Big East
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
The Big East never disappoints, at least when it comes to basketball. Their regular season was solid, and they boasted one of the more exciting tournaments outside of the mid-majors.
When all is said and done, the Big East will—as it deserves—have the most teams in the 68-squad field for the NCAA tournament.
None of them will make the final, though.
Joe Lunardi Isn't as Good as He Thinks He Is
Photo courtesy of technicalfowl.typepad.com
The ESPN bracketology expert will do well, but the field will look very different from his predictions. His power-conference bubble bias comes at a bad time in college basketball. Even with the shrinking bubble, more mid-major teams will find themselves making it into the tournament field.
I predict that he will err in six of the teams he names to the field, and that at least 15 of the teams will be seeded differently than he predicts in his final bracketology update.