March Madness Update: Chapter 1

Here's the bad news for those of us who must endure winter: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Friday, which means we have six more weeks of winter ahead of us.

markblaudschun

The good news?

We are six weeks away from the real start of the college basketball season known as March Madness, which is conference tournament play, followed by three weeks of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which remains the greatest sustained (more than a week) sporting event in the country.

So here at TMG, we are announcing the start of another season of bracketology--TMG reached a milestone last season by correctly predicting all 68 tournament teams--and projections on the post season.

We will start slowly and merely pick the field--without full brackets--for a few weeks.

So here's the first breakdown, with the 32 automatic qualifiers and the 36 at-large picks.

Automatic qualifiers (32)

America East--Vermont

American--Cincinnati

Atlantic 10--Rhode Island

Atlantic Coast Conference--Virginia

Atlantic Sun--Florida Gulf Coast

Big 12--Kansas

Big East--Villanova

Big Sky--Montana

Big South--UNC--Ashville

Big Ten--Purdue

Big West--UC-Santa Barbara

Colonial Athletic Association--Charleston

Conference USA--Middle Tennessee

Horizon--Wright State

Ivy--Harvard

Metro Atlantic AthleticConference--Rider

Mid-American Conference--Buffalo

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference--Savannah State

Missouri Valley Conference--Loyola-Chicago

Mountain West Conference--Boise State

Northeastern Conference--Wagner

Ohio Valley Conference--Belmont

Pacific-12 Conference--Arizona

Patriot League--Bucknell

Southeastern Conference--Auburn

Southern Conference--East Tennessee State

Southland Conference--SF Austin

Southwestern AthleticConference--Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Summit Conference--South Dakota State

Sun Belt Conference--Louisiana

West Coast Conference--Saint Mary's

Western Athletic Conference--New Mexico State

AT LARGE (36)

33. Wichita State

34. Houston

35. Duke

36. Clemson

37. Louisville

38. Miami

39 North Carolina

40 Virginia Tech

41. Florida State

42. Texas Tech

43. Oklahoma

44. West Virginia

45. Kansas State

46. TCU

47. Xavier

48. Seton Hall

49. Butler

50. Creighton

51. Providence

52. Marquette

53. Ohio State

54. Michigan State

55. Michigan

56. Nebraska

57. USC

58. Washington

59. UCLA

60. Oregon

61. Kentucky

62. Tennessee

63. Florida

64. Gonzaga

65. Texas A&M

66. Arizona State

67. NC State

68. SMU

Free Throws--The No. 1 seeds are starting to get set in concrete. Purdue looks like a solid choice in the Midwest, Virginia in the South and Villanova in the East. The West remains in play, without a dominant team, which means a team like Kansas as the Big 12 champion could slide into that spot. Auburn, as the SEC champion, could also fill the slot....The ACC looks solid for 9 bids, while the Big East could easily have 7 of its 10 teams in the tournament...The A10 looks like a one-bid league, unless URI is upset in the conference tournament....The Big 10, which is not having a good season, will play its conference tournament in New York's Madison Square Garden, but it will be held a week earlier than usual to avoid a conflict with the Big East, which basically owns the rights to the Garden during tournament week for the next several years. The only problem with that is that Big 10 teams will have an extra week of idleness, which can be a good and bad thing.

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