Bracketology: Open Your Eyes, There Are More Than 6 Conferences

Mike HendersonCorrespondent IIJanuary 22, 2010

DENVER - MARCH 20:  Head coach Jim Larranaga of the George Mason Patriots reacts during the first round game of the East Regional against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as part of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Pepsi Center on March 20, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Everybody is starting to talk about the brackets, probably even the committee in charge of the task.

Personally, I think it is far too early to start making these judgements. Too much happens game to game to alter our opinions. One thing is for certain - this may be the most wide-open year in recent memory.

If it started today, the tournament's number one seeds would likely be Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, and Syracuse, in no particular order. Number two seeds might include Villanova, Duke, Kansas State, West Virginia, Purdue, Michigan State ... should I continue?

The truth is, there is too much basketball left to be played to figure this out right now. Yes, it's fun and all but there are some things that need to be sorted out before March rolls around. And, I still have a few questions.

1. How good is the Atlantic 10?

Are they going to get four or five bids, like many seem to be suggesting? Temple, Dayton and Xavier seem to be heading to the tourney but bigger decisions lay ahead with Richmond and Rhode Island. Richmond played a tough non-conference schedule and won against some good teams. But they also have some bad losses as well. Rhode Island has a good record and beat Oklahoma State (at home) but overall had a relatively soft non-conference sked.

2. How bad is the PAC 10?

Wow - California will likely emerge by default. Washington is about as inconsistent as a team could be and the rest...throw a dart. If they get two teams in it will be an accomplishment. Anything more than that is wishful thinking. None of the teams established any type of resume before the conference began and they are taking turns beating each other in the league.

3. Will the Mountain West get any at-large bids?

There is always talk about this conference but when it comes down to it, they rarely receive more than 1 at-large bid - if they get any at all. Four teams - Brigham Young, New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State - are all solid but again, have not had the "signature" wins that the committee so desperately seeks.

4. Does Butler get in if they don't win...

Their "signature" win was against Ohio State, minus Evan Turner, at home. Some think that this is not enough should the Bulldogs fail in their conference tourney.

5. Do any other non-Big 6 conferences deserve multiple bids?

The two that come to mind are the Missouri Valley and the Colonial. I think that Northern Iowa is a lock regardless but some consideration might be given to Wichita State. Creighton played a tough schedule but didn't win any of those games. The Colonial is one of the most competitive conferences and they have some solid teams as well. George Mason is a bit of a surprise (should I still be saying that) while Old Dominion and Northeastern have been strong. William and Mary has two huge road wins against quality ACC opponents and can use a solid conference record to help its chances.

I like thinking about potential March matchups as much as the next person but this year's version is just too tough to call right now. Perhaps things will begin to clear up in the coming weeks or maybe it will just get murkier. Either way, I think I'm going to be watching.