Bracketology is now synonymous with college basketball, and its fans are full of passion. However, if you are under the age of 40, you may not realize that the NCAA Tournament was once determined solely by conference tournament champions. Many teams were top 10 in the nation yet they did not get into the NCAA Tournament because they lost in their conference tournament. For example, did you know that the 1966 UCLA Bruins - a team that had won back-to-back national titles - was ineligible for tournament play because they lost to Arizona State? After that season, some player named Lew Alcindor came along and started a string of seven consecutive national titles for UCLA. Things are a little bit different in 2015 as ESPN and other sports websites start analyzing all 68 teams (and the first four out) as early as January!
There's no question Kentucky will be, far and away, the favorite heading into the tournament. The Wildcats have steamrolled the competition, and their pursuit of perfection will become a headline leading into the 2015 NCAA Tournament if they win the SEC Tourney. John Calipari has tried to downplay it, but this is one of the best college basketball teams in the modern era.
But while the favorites are very important for the fans and for prestige, all you really have to do to win the whole thing is get in. What makes the games so exhilarating is that there is almost always a #12 seed that beats a #5 seed - that always makes for good television. Remember, last season a #7 seed beat a #8 seed in the title game.
One tip for your office pool: when selecting your bracket, make sure to look at the location of the game. The new pod system keeps teams close to home and underdogs tend to play better when they do not have to travel thousands of miles. In the meantime, get ready for tip off!