Hey look, college basketball has started. Great. As expected we'll go wall-to-wall college hoops today. It's that big.
From the "Talks too much" studios, the ball is tipped.
Here is our complete regional breakdown http://timesfreepress.com/news/2014/mar/17/ncaa-tournament-regional-breakdowns/. Good times.
Here is our top 5 list of takeaways from the brackets:
1) The committee gave Wichita State a No. 1 seed and said, "Be careful what you want," because the Shockers' draw is filled with land mines. UK in round two is tough. A potential date with Louisville in the Sweet 16. Duke or Michigan on the other side. Man. Shockers awed indeed.
2) If the brackets had been drawn in January — back when we said we were riding Syracuse to the title — there's a chance that three No. 1 seeds back then landed in the South with The Orange, Florida and Kansas. And for Florida to be the overall No. 1 seed and get the most dangerous No. 2 in Kansas does not make sense.
3) We will stay with the UNC as the biggest bracket buster in this draw. The No. 6-seeded Tar Heels could be a Final Four team; they could lose to Providence and star senior point guard Bryce Cotton in Round 1.
4) There are two four seeds that are as good as anyone in Michigan State and Louisville. Happiest coach alive: Rick Pitino, who now gets two full weeks of, "No one thinks your anything. You won it all last year and they think your are the 16th best team in the country."
5) Here's our Final Four: Florida, Arizona, Louisville, Michigan State, with Florida and Louisville meeting in the title.
Contests where you can win stuff
We are participating in three bracket related challenges.
First we will play in the TFP office pool, and since it's for entertainment purposes only, we hope to have as much entertainment as last year when Louisville won it all and made our bracket the office standard. Good times.
Second, we will host and play in the fourth annual "Method to the Madness: Last-in, First-out Challenge." The rules are easy, pick the first No. 1 seed to get bounced and the last double-digit seed to be left in the dance. Since there are more double-digit seeds in the draw, in the case of a split tie (one has the double-digit and one has the No. 1 seed correct), we'll give extra credence to the double-digit seed. If we still have a tie after that, we'll let the Electric Elite Eight Shootout challenge serve as a second tie-breaker. (The Electric Elite Eight Shootout is when you pick two players alive in the second weekend and the pair that scores the most total points wins. We'll get to that next week.)
Third, we're going to enter a bracket in the ESPN 105.1 pool at espn,com. Here are the details: Contestants must have an account on www.ESPN.com to enter. If they don't have one, they must create one. Click on "Tournament Challenge" under the "Fantasy & Games" tab. Search for the group name "ESPN 105.1 The Zone." Use the password "chattanooga." One bracket per player and prizes are still to be determined.
Hoops beyond the bracket
Let's discuss three things beyond the pieces of paper that everyone will be filling out and handing to some guy named Bill or Dave or Jay, who will be moving between departments and pandering for everyone's $5 entry fee. It's the gambling version of Girls Scout cookies.
First, enter a bracket. It's good for company moral. In fact, let the Mrs. enter one too. It's the perfect way to get her hooked on the festivities. we're all about family time here at the 5-at-10. And gambling.
Second, this is the perfect time to discuss the conference tournament as the dinosaur of major TV sports. Quick, other than UK's final minute hiccups — which marred an inspired performance that otherwise bodes well for the youthful and talented and enigmatic bunch — what was the lasting moment of Sunday? Anyone? Nope, the brackets and the selection and the drama have left conference title games with the shelf life of day-old bread. It's time to kill conference tournaments and give the NCAA bids to the regular season champ. We could even expand the NCAA tournament another weekend with the extra time. (Side note: The only reason the tournament has not expanded already is that CBS has said no because it does not want the Final Four and the Masters on the same weekend, and since the Masters is the only sporting event anywhere that really does not care about the money and CBS can't move that, well, the tournament stays as a three-week entity.) You could explore a number of ideas. Start the regular season later. Still have small conference tournaments and let the regular-season winner and the tournament winner in the expanded field. Let much smaller sights host those first round games. It could even be an exaggerated version of the play-in games, just with 32 of them played out between 64 teams to face the 1-through-8 seeds that received get a weekend off. And that bye means the regular season and playing well on a nightly basis — and scheduling — is even more important. So you have 96 teams in the real dance and 64 on an opening weekend filled with 32 games spaced among the channels to fill the void left in the TV schedule as opposed to almost a couple dozen teams playing in a weekend that no one remembers.
Third, and please accept this as our mea culpa, but Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin deserves kudos for getting his bunch into the tournament. It's a foregone conclusion that Martin now will be back, and as Jomo has said from the beginning, he likely deserved that either way. Dude has won 60 percent of his games, and now that he has a dance ticket on his resume, he has earned the support. It's never easy being the guy that replaces the guy. Tubby Smith learned that. So did Bob Kesling. And Martin was the antithesis to ever-popoular Bruce Pearl in a slew of ways — some of those speak very highly of The Conz, others not so much. But now, on the line that matters most, each has Dance participant on his placard and that should count for something. (Side note: We still believe this bunch should have been strides better than what they were from November through February, but if college basketball of today has been stripped and mined to where only March matters, then these Vols and their coach have peaked at the right time.)
This and that
— Women's bracket is tonight, and if Jim Foster's XX Mocs get anything lower than an 11, then the committee needs to be investigated. And if they get sent to College Station, Texas, for the second year in a row, then it's time to seriously question the entire pod system.
— Carl Edwards won the NASCAR race. Yay.
— The Braves have not lost another starting pitcher today, but the day is not over yet.
— Our bracket expert StuckinKent sent his bracket in Sunday afternoon and hit 67 of 68, missing only SMU. Well-played. We'll check the seeding swings shortly.
Who won the weekend?
What's the tournament takeaway?
What's Rushmore of Patricks?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...