Unlike some seasons which are far too long, college basketball has figured it out. It has a three week season which draws attention from all over the country and from one of the widest fan bases in sports (who is not filling out a bracket this week?)
Yes, we are into March Madness and a 68 team event that generates the NCAA $1 billion dollars.
The regular season which started before Thanksgiving? Forgetaboutit, although some of the NCAA selection committee's decisions on including Oklahoma, a team that basically stopped playing after January 1, remains a mystery.
The prevailing, underlying story line of course is whether the ongoing FBI investigation will provide more off the court headlines just as teams are preparing for the first of 3 two-game tournaments in their march towards the Final Four in San Antonio.
But for now, let's keep a positive attitude and stick with basketball items for as long as we can.
Here's what we see happening in the first weekend.:[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Upsets? You bet. No. No. 16s knocking off No. 1 (which has never happened). But No. 2 Duke needs to pay attention to No. 15 Iona on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. And, as usual the No. 5s need to worry about their No. 12 opponents. Watch out Clemson, Ohio State, West Virginia.
The lowest seed capable of going the furthest? Keep an eye on the No. 11 seeds in the play-in games, meaning UCLA, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure and Arizona State. All are capable of making it to the Sweet 16 if they get out of Dayton.
Most intriguing possible match up: Keep an eye in the Midwest, where No. 7 Rhode Island could find itself in a Sweet 16 game in the Midwest Regional in Omaha against Arizona State, a game which would match up URI coach Danny Hurley and Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley.
History tells us that after the first weekend of upsets, form takes over. A super Blue chip Final Four of Duke, Villanova, North Carolina and Virginia could make it an ACC garden party similar to what the Big East had in Lexington, Kentucky in 1985 when Georgetown, Villanova and St. John's all made it to the Final Four.
Hottest teams not seeded in the Top 2 lines: No. 5 Kentucky, No. 3 Michigan
No. 1 team most likely to get upset: If I were Kansas, I would be worried about its second round game against either Seton Hall or North Carolina State. Both can beat the Jayhawks. And, Villanova should pay attention if it finds Virginia Tech as its second round opponent in Pittsburgh. The Hokies beat Virginia, Duke and North Carolina during the regular season.[/membership]