And now for the bracket. The notes are below it.
A pretty easy way to get a lot of fans really upset and have them think youre an idiot is to put together a preseason bracket. The reason for that is because there are so many teams that could potentially make the tournament, but you can only take 65 of them. Personally, I can think of well over 100 teams that I think have a very legit shot at making the NCAA tournament this year, but I can only put 65 of them in right now. As the season progresses the number of teams who appear to have a legit shot at making the dance will decrease, but at this point any preseason bracket is basically a random throwing of darts. There is absolutely nothing to base it on other than speculation. Still, its fun for us fans to look at and talk about.
-This is the first year of the sixteen team Big East. I think it might be too big for its own good. A few teams play some pretty decent out of conference schedules, but other teams such as Louisville, Connecticut, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Syracuse have very weak out of conference schedules. Those teams play at most two teams out of conference that appear to have any sort of a shot at making the tournament. Several other teams in the conference dont play many more than that. The reason that is dangerous is because for a team to get an at large bid they must make a case for themselves at some point. Teams that play in weaker conferences are basically taking a pass on making a case for themselves in conference play and need to compensate for that with a strong out of conference schedule. Essentially what many teams in the Big East are doing is taking a pass on making a case for themselves OUT of conference play. Therefore, they will have to do something impressive during conference play. Not everyone is going to be able to do that because every time a game is played, someone loses. I currently have seven teams in, but thats less than half the league. I seriously dont see them getting ten or eleven teams in like many are predicting. Simple arithmetic indicates that some teams are going to lose and finish towards the bottom and if they played a piddle-poo out of conference schedule (which too many teams in that league do) then the committee will not be impressed.
-Memphis and George Washington are probably seeded much lower in my bracket than they are in most other preseason brackets. For me, both teams continually fall short of their preseason expectations. As far as Memphis goes, for me to think that they are a top twenty team, they are going to have to actually play like it first which is something they have failed to do for the past several seasons. Maybe this is the year they finally play like their preseason ranking, but it is something they havent done in recent years and I wouldnt be at all surprised if they once again fall flat, drop from the rankings, and end up seeded #9 or worse.
As far as George Washington goes, they are very athletic, but they are also one dimensional. Once they are thrown off balance, they tend to stay off balance. This was a team that was ranked extremely high at one point last season after wins against Michigan State and Maryland, but played their way into a position to where they would not have even gotten an at large had they needed it. They will likely beat some good teams, but they will also likely lose to some mediocre teams. With the Atlantic Ten not looking like a powerhouse conference it wont take too many losses for their resume to drop.
-I dont have Missouri in there at all. See the two previous paragraphs and youll get the idea why.
-Louisville is a team that generally does what Memphis, George Washington and Missouri do in reverse. They don't always start the season ranked very high, but always end up having a big year (so long as they stay uninjured that is). That is why I have them as a #1 seed. Talent wise, they are as good or better than they've been before. They are extremely young, but other than Kentucky they aren't really tested at any point out of conference so they'll have plenty of time to gel. As we saw last year, Louisville is a team that is athletic, well coached, and plays well in big games. That's why I have them so high.
-They aren't my top #1 seed, but I do have them playing in Dayton. Since the play in game is in Dayton, I think the committee will keep the play in winner in Dayton if there is a #1 seed placed there regardless of who it is.
-Cincinnati is a hard team to call. I know that they failed to even crack the DraftExpress preseason top forty-- and I cant say I even disagree with that and wouldnt be surprised if they wind up having a very poor season. However, I also wouldnt be at all surprised if they wound up having a very good season. Bob Huggins leaving was a big blow to the team, but they are still very talented and Andy Kennedy is a very good coach with tons of potential. He also has the respect of the team and may be able to win the job permanently if they end up having a big year.
-Some of the teams that were on the bubble so to speak (although there is no such thing as a bubble yet) were LSU, Southern Illinois, California, UAB, Saint Josephs, South Carolina, Old Dominion and UNLV. I would not be one bit surprised to see any of those teams make the tournament, and not only that, but end up with a good seed. All the teams are well coached and should all have good years. South Carolina won the NIT last year and I believe they retained quite a bit from that team.
-I have Indiana in at a #10 seed, but again wouldnt be surprised if this season is a return to glory so to speak. The Hoosiers are extremely talented this year. They had a good team last year and were in several close games, but despite playing well they were unable to pull most of those out and missed the tournament for a second year in a row. If they can just begin to finish games they should be in good shape this year.
-I also have two MAC teams in there in Kent State and Ohio University. I think both will be good enough to earn an at large bid this year and Ohio may end up spending some time in the rankings before its all over. They had a fantastic finish to the season last year and return a good portion of their team.
-Midnight Madness is in less than two weeks. The time span between that and the start of the exhibition games seems like an eternity to me. I wish the season was starting tomorrow. Until then, be sure and check out the Bracket Express conference previews that will be posted between now and then. I may make some adjustments to the bracket in that time span, but I dont anticipate anything drastic. For what its worth (which probably isnt much) I got 48 of the 65 teams correct with my preseason bracket last year, but as I said earlier any preseason bracket is a crap shoot. That was significantly less accurate than my final projection last year where I had 63 out of the 65 teams correct and 59 within one of the actual seed. The 59 within one of the actual was more accurate than any major network or website's projections.
At the beginning of the season, one never knows though. If someone last year would have had both Memphis and Maryland out people would have thought they were nuts. You just never know until the games are played. After all, this aint football.