Now a lot can be made and will be made about whether the committee selected the right teams to make the tournament, or if they selected the wrong teams to make the tournament. You'll hear it all week about this team didn't make the tournament when they should have, and vice versa. It comes with the package, and that's what makes this whole process so great.
Here's a look at some of the different parts of the bracket, ranging from the biggest snub to whom I feel is the one team to watch out for to possibly become this year's George Mason.
Best Number One Seed: In my opinion, the best number one seed is still the Florida Gators. They're only one of two teams ever to return all five starters from their previous National Championship team. Florida may not be the hottest number one team heading into the tournament as that may belong to Kansas or Ohio State, but it's hard to ignore the amount of talent and ability that Florida has going into the tournament.
The Gators are led by a trio of future NBA players, all of whom may be headed to the NBA after this year. Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Corey Brewer are those players, which may give them more incentive to go out on top by winning the National Title.
The one thing going against the Gators is that no team has won back-to-back National Titles since the Duke Blue Devils did it back in 1991 and 1992. They're going to get everyone's best shot simply because they are the defenders of the glass ball. However, I expect the Gators to make another serious run towards winning the National Title.
Most Dangerous team other than a Number One: This would go to the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hoyas have won 14 of their last 15. The Hoyas got the number two seed in the East region after winning both the regular season Big East conference title and the Big East conference tournament title.
The Hoyas are big, and they can defend with the best of them. They are led by big man Roy Hibbert and sidekick Jeff Green, who was the Big East Player of the Year as a junior. As a team, they shoot better than 50% from the field, and 37% from the perimeter.
The bracket they're in, the East bracket, is simply loaded. North Carolina, Washington State, Texas, USC, and Georgetown could all come out of the East region which will make it very difficult for Georgetown.
Biggest Surprise team to get in: Arkansas. In my opinion, this team got in the tournament simply because of their run in the SEC tournament. However, if I remember correctly, the committee didn't put much emphasis on the conference tournament and the results that came from there. But judging by this tournament and where some of the teams got seeded and which teams got in or didn't get in, the conference tournament had a huge bearing on things.
Of course a case can be made for several teams that didn't make it. Teams like Drexel, Florida State, Air Force, and others can claim that they deserve to be in before Arkansas, and that very well may be the case. But what's done is done.
However, looking at Arkansas…this team finished 7-9 in a bad SEC West conference. They won 21 games, but they also lost 13 games…and 13 losses are 13 losses. The Razorbacks also went 2-8 on the road. They had a respectable RPI and a very solid SOS, but sometimes those numbers should be looked at with less emphasis, and the entire body of work should be looked at with greater significance.
Biggest Snub: Syracuse. A case can be made for Drexel, Kansas State, and others, but I was pretty positive that Syracuse was going to make the field of 65. Even their head coach, Jim Boeheim, seemed quite surprised that the ‘Cuse didn't make the tournament.
Syracuse went 22-10 this year while going 10-6 in the always difficult Big East. They had big wins against the likes of Georgetown, Marquette, & Villanova. Their RPI was 52 while their SOS was 46. With the body of work they put together, while adding in their RPI and SOS, you'd think that they would at least be able to crack the field of 65. The ‘Cuse did go 3-7 against the RPI's top 50, which obviously worked against them.
However, that wasn't the case. They had some bad losses this year to Wichita State and St. John's, along with losing to another snubbed team, Drexel. However, the Orange Men finished the season going 7-3, winning 6 of 8 at one time, while winning one game in the Big East tournament. Despite winning the national title a few years ago, Syracuse now gets to sit home and watch the tournament.
Biggest Sleeper: I could take the easy route and go with the majority of the general public and say that Winthrop has the ability to be the biggest sleeper. However, I prefer to take a more riskier approach when dealing with these things.
My sleeper pick for this tournament, or the "George Mason" of the tournament, is Old Dominion. While they didn't win their conference tournament, they finished 15-3 in the CAA while going 24-8 overall. Old Dominion, despite losing to George Mason in the conference tournament, has won 12 of their last 13 games heading into the tournament. They got a big win at Georgetown earlier in the year, which definitely helped their resume.
They're not a very big team, but they're an experienced team. Their top six players in terms of minutes are upper classmen, which always helps come tournament time. They drew Butler in the first seed in one of those vaunted 5-12 matchups, which makes Old Dominion an even easier pick to make some noise in the tournament.