College basketball fanatics won't have to stare down an empty bracket much longer. This year's long-awaited Selection Sunday will answer all the NCAA tournament's burning questions.
With several unexpected conference tournament winners seizing automatic bids, which bubble teams will receive at-large bids? In a year with no consensus favorites, which four title contenders will earn top-seed honors?
Whether you have meticulously watched games and researched data all season or plan to pick the cooler mascot—good luck, most schools have lame ones—the moment of truth arrives Sunday night.
So long, bracketology. Hello, March Madness.
Selection Sunday Viewing Info
Time (ET): 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Live Stream: CBSSports.com
Most conference tournaments have only muddled the main bracket's outlook, but a demonstrative blowout on Saturday cemented one of the NCAA's biggest fears: no Ben Simmons.
After losing four of its final six regular-season games, LSU needed a strong SEC tournament showing to stay alive. Instead, it lost 71-38 to Texas A&M, which will face Kentucky in Sunday's conference final.
Any old loss would have significantly derailed LSU's chances of sneaking into the tournament. A historically bad one, mired by 20.6 percent shooting and a 13-point first half, makes LSU's exclusion inevitable. The Tuscaloosa News' Cecil Hurt highlighted LSU's severe offensive ineptitude during the conference semifinals:
First sub-40 scoring output for an SEC Tournament team since Alabama beat Misssissippi State 42-31 in 1985.— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) March 12, 2016
Even in a poor individual effort, Simmons led the team with 10 points and 12 rebounds, which gives him 23 double-doubles in 33 games. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the freshman passed one NBA All-Star and tied another on the all-time freshman leaderboard:
Ben Simmons has 23 double-doubles this season, tied for 3rd-most by a freshman in Division I history. pic.twitter.com/TqREW6vpv5— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2016
The lethargic effort popped LSU's bubble, robbing the tournament of a star prospect but saving it from a reeling squad that relied too much on one superb talent. USA Today's Nicole Auerbach didn't mince words after Saturday's ugly defeat.
"LSU is a team that lacked chemistry, a team of one impressive individual talent who couldn't make his teammates better and teammates who appeared to resent all the attention on him," Auerbach wrote. "'Team' is a word used loosely here; little we saw all season long suggested this was one cohesive unit, as the term suggests."
Simmons won't hear his team announced on CBS' Selection Sunday special, but his college career won't end just yet. The Tigers should have a consolation prize waiting, a fate he discussed after the loss, per Tiger Rag's Cody Worsham:
Ben Simmons asked about NIT: Whatever the future holds I want to play with this team as long as I can.— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) March 12, 2016
LSU isn't the only SEC school likely to get shunned by the selection committee. Outside of Texas A&M and Kentucky, nobody should book travel arrangements yet. As of late Saturday night, ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi has Vanderbilt among the first four out, with South Carolina competing in one of four Round 1 games.
Georgia fell short of earning an automatic bid, squandering a halftime lead to lose Saturday's semifinal showdown to the Wildcats. The Bulldogs couldn't take the decision out of the committee's hands, but they still competed well against a ranked adversary yet snapped a five-game winning streak in the process.
Their late rally, however, is unlikely to save their season. They still lack a signature victory, finishing 0-5 against teams inside the top 50 of RPI, per ESPN.com. Even if they hadn't finished the job against the Aggies in the championship game, upsetting Kentucky could have opened some eyes.
Instead, Sunday is going to be a tough night for SEC basketball.