It's March Madness Time: Put Your Dancing Shoes on...Only the Ones Invited

Chris BrooksCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2009

Sixty-five dream of becoming National Champion this season.

Well, you have seven Big East teams dancing—three of which are one seeds in their region.

Then there are those who were left off the manifest for the Big Dance. Saint Mary's (CA), Penn State, Virginia Tech, San Diego State, Creighton, and Kentucky were a few left out of this year's NCAA Tournament.

Don't worry, they all can play in the Not In, I mean, the National Invitational Tournament. Look on the bright side—three wins and you get to play at the Garden. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

The action tips off in Dayton on Tuesday night when Alabama State meets Morehead State in the opening round game. The winner faces the overall No. 1 seed Louisville Friday night.

Many now ask, who is this year's George Mason? That is easy—this year's George Mason is playing Penn State in State College, Penn., on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT.

But in all seriousness, there are some lower seeds who can and may make some noise and mess up the bracket pools.

Let's start in the same conference as Mason with the VCU Rams. VCU, an 11 seed in the East Region, will play the No. 6 seed UCLA Bruins in Philadelphia. They still have Eric Maynor and head coach Anthony Grant, and they remember the '07 tournament and Duke—they know how to beat good teams.

In the South Region, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, a four seed, will practically play their first two at home in Portland, Ore., before playing the UNC Tar Heels in Memphis. UNC has a rough task after their first round game, having to play either LSU or Butler. Even if Carolina should advance past the Zags, either Syracuse or Oklahoma will be waiting.

In the Midwest Region, the No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers will play in Minneapolis. They play Dayton and would most likely face Kansas in the second round. Mind you, this Kansas team is so young and inexperienced despite winning the title last season. 

If they get past the first weekend, the Spartans are their opponent, a team that did not advance to the Big Ten final and is inconsistent.

In the West Region, Washington will play their first two games in Portland before facing top-seeded UConn in a rematch of the 2006 Sweet 16 game in DC. UW fell in overtime to the Huskies, who eventually lost to Mason in the regional final. Washington would have to play Connecticut in Glendale, which is far away from home—meaning A LOT of Huskies fans (more from the Northwest than from New England).

It should be a great tournament. I would tell you more of my knowledge, but I have to win my bracket pool—I have college loans to pay off, so why would I share too much with my possible foes in the pools?

MARCH MADNESS is here! Let's Dance!!!