Wow, it’s here again!
NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday (6 p.m. eastern, CBS). It’s like the Sopranos final episode Sunday in 2007, only it happens almost every year and nobody gets killed.
It’s not a Game Seven. It’s not an AFC or NFC Championship game day or the Super Bowl. In fact, it’s not even a game.
What it is, sort of, is a schedule-travel lottery of fast food, only you don’t win money. In the same second, you learn your team’s opponent and your travel destination.
If your team is on the bubble, it can be a triple whammy of instant gratification. We’re in! We play who? Where? And if you don’t get in? College basketball’s version of “Glengarry Glen Ross” steak knives – the NIT.
And we haven’t even got to the brackets yet.
College basketball has something on all other sports. For the next three glorious weeks, people will be pulling not only for their team, but also for a multitude of foster teams adopted from upset love regardless of whether anyone knows where that No. 15 seed is located.
Quick, where is the location of No. 14 seed Northwestern State, which beat No. 3 seed Iowa, 64-63, on a 3-pointer by Jermaine Wallace in 2006 in Auburn Hills, Michigan?
This will also be the first NCAA Tournament free of COVID-19 restrictions and with games spread out everywhere since 2019.
The top four seeds are likely Gonzaga, Arizona, Baylor and somebody. It could’ve been fifth-ranked Kentucky (26-7), but it got beat Saturday by ninth-ranked Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. It could’ve been fourth-ranked Auburn (27-5), but it got beat Friday by Texas A&M.
Could Tennessee (25-7) become a No. 1? The No. 2 seed Vols (for the SEC Tournament) and No. 8 seed Texas A&M (23-11) play Sunday (1 p.m., ESPN) for the tournament title. The Vols , supposedly, can’t get higher than a No. 2 seed. And if the Aggies are already not in after beating No. 4 Auburn and No. 15 Arkansas back-to-back, there is something illegal going on.
The SEC should put in seven for sure with Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama and Texas A&M. But Florida is at 19-13 with a 9-9 mark in the nation’s best conference – or close to it.
“I mean, this league,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after falling to Tennessee, 69-62, Saturday in Tampa, Florida. “I’m hoping seven, maybe eight teams get in. Auburn may be on the one seed line. You know what, Tennessee has played so well. I just wish they did some eye tests – like watch. Forget about numbers. Do you know basketball? Watch the games. Tennessee, could they be a one? I don’t know. Maybe. If they were saying we were a No. 1, well they beat us twice.”
Perhaps if Texas A&M wins the SEC Tournament that makes Auburn’s loss to the Aggies on Friday not that bad, so Auburn could be a No. 1.
“Auburn has had a great year,” Calipari said.
So has Kentucky.
“Probably be a two,” he said of his team. “Maybe a three. Who knows? I’m not in the room, but we’ll see. My guess is it will be a very hard path because it always is.”
Not all the first round sites could be called tourist destinations. But on Selection Sunday, Buffalo may as well be San Diego.
The sites are Buffalo, New York; Indianapolis, Indiana; Fort Worth, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Greenville, South Carolina; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and San Diego, California.
And Northwestern State is in Natchitoches, Louisiana.