Let the madness of March begin!
After the release of the official 2014 NCAA tournament bracket, we now know which teams will compete in the tourney, and the television schedule is loaded with exciting matchups.
Here's a look at the official seeding for all 68 teams, from top to bottom, as provided by SI.com's Stuart Mandel:
TV Schedule (via Sports Media Watch)
While some teams like Arizona, Florida, Wichita State and Virginia clearly enter the tournament as favorites to win, it's likely they won't all make it into the Final Four. Upsets occur almost every year, and you have to go back to 2008 to find the last time all four top seeds advanced into the Final Four.
It is always surprising when all four teams miss out on the Final Four, but it's only been three years since it happened.
At this time, every team enters the tourney with an equal chance of winning, theoretically. It will be fascinating to see which underdog emerges as this year's Cinderella squad.
That said, one team that isn't getting any love from the national media as a potential Cinderella is Weber State, which takes on Arizona in Round 2. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports provides a compelling, if simplistic, reason:
There were a few shocking decisions by the seeding committee, as usual.
The biggest surprise, according to Seth Davis on the CBS broadcast (via Chris Chase of USA Today's For the Win), was Louisville's No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region: "Absolute shock. In my 11 years being on the selection show, this is the most surprised I’ve been. We thought they might be a one, they end up a four."
The Cardinals are the defending champs and posted an impressive 29-5 record this season, winning 14 of their last 16 games. While it's not shocking that the team isn't a top seed, the No. 4 spot is a bit baffling.
On the other end of the spectrum, UCLA used its Pac-12 championship surge to vault up into the No. 4 seed in the South Region.
ESPN's Andy Katz provides a couple of reasons why this was a huge win for the Bruins: "The Bruins lost a bad game at Washington State to end the regular season and yet received a 4-seed by winning the Pac-12 tournament. Plus they get to play close to home in San Diego."
The tournament is impossible to predict, and most of our brackets will be busted before the Sweet 16 arrives. That said, it's always fun to take a stab at projecting the entire field.
One excellent reason to participate in the fun this year comes by way of billionaire Warren Buffett, who is offering $1 billion to anyone who gets the entire bracket correct from start to finish. He discussed his motivation for putting on the contest with ESPN's Rick Reilly:
"I don't really care if somebody wins or not. All I'm concerned with is charging the right price. This has been my life. I knew as a young man that if I kept writing one deal after another deal, and charged the right price, in the end, I was going to make money."
Make sure to get your bracket filled out and submitted before it's too late. The tournament is nearly upon us, and it's time to get the madness kicked into high gear.
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