There’s only one thing to do in those first, magical moments after the rollout of the long-awaited NCAA Tournament bracket, and that’s complain.
You think I’m kidding? I’m not.
A year ago, the ridiculousness of Michigan State and Louisville being slated as No. 4 seeds stood out to me as the most egregious errors in judgment by the selection committee. This time around, the offenses are more serious because they involve teams higher up the food chain.
To wit: Virginia deserved a No. 1 seed over fellow Atlantic Coast Conference power Duke. I’ll lay it out for you as simply as I can, which is easy to do because it’s oh, so simple. Virginia won the regular-season title. Duke did not. Neither team won the league tourney.
Did I mention the Cavaliers also had a better overall record?
So feel free to join me in complaining about that, along with Notre Dame’s No. 3 seed (should’ve been a 2) and Kansas’ No. 2 (should’ve been a 3). The Irish and Jayhawks, both in the Midwest Region, will prove me right (or wrong) if they meet in the Sweet 16.
What was I thinking?
Do you realize I just went six paragraphs without mentioning Kentucky? I don’t know whether to be ashamed or to break out in a triumphant rendition of the “One Shining Moment” song. Either way, the 34-0 Wildcats — hot on the heels of a landmark 40-0 finish — are the obvious top story in this here tourney.
Ranking the regions
From strongest to weakest:
1. West: Wisconsin and Arizona easily are the wickedest 1-2 seed combo. Baylor and North Carolina are very capable, and VCU is as dangerous as all get-out.
2. East: You’ll find the most depth here. What’s the difference between top seed Villanova and seventh seed Michigan State? It sure isn’t all that great. Virginia is a championship contender. No one wants to play Oklahoma, Louisville, Northern Iowa or Providence.
3. Midwest: There’s Kentucky, and that’s enough for the Midwest not to rank at the bottom. Kansas is a weaker-than-weak No. 2. Maryland and West Virginia are tough outs to be sure, but the Terrapins may be too guard-reliant and the Mountaineers’ best players are just now coming back from injuries.
4. South: Duke has massive talent, but three of its four best players are freshmen. Gonzaga is more pretender than contender. Iowa State has the best chance of any No. 3 to reach the Final Four. The rest of the region is as blah as it gets.
ONE MORE THING
Illinois — the state, not the school — carries the dishonor of placing no teams in the tournament.
Indiana — the state, not the school — has five teams in the Midwest Region alone. Those would be Notre Dame, Butler, Purdue, Indiana and Valparaiso.
If they want to chant “Hoosier daddy?” at us, there’s not a whole lot we can do about it.