, Newburyport, MA


March 18, 2014

Breaking down the brackets

The brackets are out, and man, if March Madness didn’t come early this year. Some of the seeding choices were puzzling, to put it mildly, but at the end of the day, the field is the field, and someone’s going to have to win six games to claim the championship regardless.

So before you fill out your brackets and make your final picks, here’s some food for thought on who to watch and who could be ripe for an upset.

Buy: The American Athletic Conference

Yesterday I spent about 700 words laying out all the reasons why Louisville is the hottest team in the tournament and should be one of the safest bets to go all the way. I wrote that around noon on Sunday, and then at 6:30 p.m. the Selection Committee unveiled the brackets and had the Cardinals pegged as a No. 4 seed.

Seriously, a No. 4 seed? If Louisville is a No. 4 seed, then I’m Mickey Mouse. The Cardinals have rolled through every team they’ve played over the past month, and in yesterday’s final AP Poll they were ranked No. 5 in the country. Yet that translates into a No. 4 seed in the tournament? Well, crazy as it sounds, there’s an explanation, and that is the committee’s collective dismissal of the American Athletic Conference.

Cincinnati, a top 10 team almost all season long, is a No. 5 seed. UConn, who has been in the top 25 most of the year, is a No. 7 seed. Memphis is a No. 8 seed, and Larry Brown’s Southern Methodist team was left out entirely, which was an absolute crime for which someone on the Selection Committee ought to go to jail.

The seed is just a number, though, and if you want a leg up in your office pool, don’t let these numbers fool you. Louisville, Cincinnati and UConn feature three of the best guards in the country and have beaten some of the nation’s best. Speaking of UConn …

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