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a lot.

From the Times: Bracketology’s Birth: Filling In the Blanks, Running on Caffeine

Bracketology began with two die-hard college basketball fans in a tiny office watching games, eating junk food, drinking caffeinated beverages, working around the clock and wishing the weekend would never end.

Today, Joe Lunardi and Charlie Creme are ESPN’s bracketologists: Lunardi projecting the N.C.A.A. tournament field for men’s basketball and Creme for women’s. They have been with the network for more than a decade and are familiar faces to many fans who follow the sport closely. To them, though, their part-time job is more a labor of love than a demanding occupation.

Just in time – here’s Charlie’s latest bracketology.

Also from the Times, this appreciation from a daughter: The Child of a College Basketball Referee Recalls Years of Fairness

My father, Michael Eggers, was an N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball official for 41 years. Few, if any, officials have been able to say the same, or ever will.

After having officiated more than 2,000 games, he worked his final one, Southern California at U.C.L.A., on March 4. My family was in attendance, wearing black and white, of course.

In February 2008, I joined my father on the road for an especially grueling stretch of games: three states and three conferences in three days. There was Texas A&M at Missouri, then Arizona State at Arizona and finally Pepperdine at Portland. I secured press credentials and, with his permission, documented what happened away from the ball.

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From Jeff Jacobs at CT Now/Hartford Courant: Quinnipiac: Becoming A Giant: AD Jack McDonald’s Vision Is Turning Into Reality

“I’m the luckiest AD on the planet. Our programs, the medical school, the law school, Now, people use the words ‘up and coming.’ It is one of the hottest schools, athletically, academically, career-wise in the region. And today, today is a great step.”

St. Patrick’s Day would be a great Sunday for McDonald. After the “Irish Eyes are Miling” run in Cheshire, he would watch the fans storm Lender Court in celebration. Three hours later, the fans went crazy as the Bobcats pulled the goalie in the closing moments, tied the final game of ECAC quarterfinal series against Cornell at 2 and won it 3-2 with 5:52 left in double overtime on a goal by Kevin Bui.

Also out of Connecticut: Carl Adamec says, “Planting NCAA seeds takes some guesswork

You don’t need a degree from ESPNU to be a bracketologist.

Some knowledge is required, yes, but it’s the love of the game that qualifies you. So please join us. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Your guess is as good as anyone’s, including ESPN’s.

The 64 women’s basketball teams that will take part in the NCAA tournament will be announced Monday at 7 p.m. There are a lot of things we know and a lot of things we don’t. But trying to figure it out is where all the fun comes in.

Charlie discusses Things to look for Monday night – ESPN’s NCAA Selection Special is at 7 ET; coverage continues on ESPNU at 8 ET

Even as the final bracket projection was put together this weekend, some of the questions that popped up throughout the season still lingered. How the selection committee answers them will go a long way toward determining what the NCAA tournament bracket looks like when it’s unveiled on Selection Monday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET, with continued coverage on ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET).

Here are the questions I’m most anxious to see answered Monday night.

The Rebkellian beknighted takes a shot at the Dancers using RPI

Full Court has a question (that might upset Bridgeport, CT folks): Will principles or profit guide NCAA bracketing?

it would be a surprise to nearly everyone involved in women’s basketball if the top four seeds are not Baylor, Notre Dame, Connecticut and Stanford in pretty much that order, as they have been the consensus top four for most, if not all, of the season.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be a very big question mark surrounding the bracketing of the four heavyweights. Because while most assume that UConn will be holding court in the Bridgeport, Conn., Regional, just as they have played at or near their home floor in the early and regional rounds for the past several years, it will take a major piece of legerdemain for the Selection Committee to get them there this year.

Also at Full Court, Paul White: Mid-Majors hold to script, for the most part

Players on NCAA Tournament bubble teams can breathe a bit easier after this week’s conclusion of the mid-major postseason tournaments.

Losses by St. Joseph’s (Atlantic 10), Green Bay (Horizon) and Delaware (Colonial Athletic) – as well as perhaps even Quinnipiac (Northeast) – in conference tournament finals would have provided NCAA Tournament bids to teams that would not have gotten in otherwise. All favorites prevailed, though, so bubble team supporters don’t have to chew on those fingernails quite so viciously in advance of Monday’s Selection Show.

Speaking of Mid-Majors, Lady Swish gives Hampton their due: Four–ward progress – Hampton does it again

David Six keeps insisting that when the 2012-13 Hampton Lady Pirates first assembled last fall, they weren’t very good.

Sure didn’t take ’em long to catch on. Or catch fire. Or leave the rest of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in their wake once again.

In a never-in-doubt MEAC title game, the Lady Pirates smoked Howard 59-38 Saturday at the Norfolk Scope to complete a perfect conference schedule – 16-0 regular season; 3-0 tournament – claim their fourth straight conference crown and book yet another ticket to the NCAA Tournament. 

“I’m not going to say where we should be seeded, but I don’t think we’re a 15 or 16 seed,” said Six, who along with many others felt Hampton was underseeded at 16 last season. “I haven’t seen all the other teams play, but we’ve got some quality wins. I certainly don’t think we’re a 15, 16. I think 13 is fair.

Matt Sussman at Hustle Belt says,“Watch out for Central Michigan”:

CMU always had potential. They had a litany of good nonconference wins, perhaps the best collection in all of the MAC. They just had one too many conference losses which forced them into the quarterfinals instead of the semis. Then they got to work; a 33-point victory over Bowling Green, a second win against Toledo and now this masterpiece over the Zips.

Richard Kent at Swish Appeal has Five teams to watch in the 2013 NCAA Tournament

As we ponder and wonder what’s going to happen tonight and consider the future of the tournament, a little flashback:

2007: The NCAA Selection Committee: Opening the Vault and Looking Inside

Every year the (now) “Tuesday Night Quarterbacking” that follows Division I’s “Selection Monday” becomes a passionate exercise in “what ifs” and “how comes.” Depending on a coach’s relationship to those fortunate 64 teams, discussions can be fraught with emotion or wrapped in an almost scientific detachment. Most years one can guarantee the focus of people’s dissatisfaction will either be on the teams selected or on the make up of the brackets.

But last year, in a sort of basketball “perfect storm,” the ire was aimed at both. What followed was a firestorm (and some mocking) in the press and barbed comments from coaches about who got in, who got left out, why so many tops seeds were put in one region, why a top seed should play on a lower seed’s de facto home court, and on and on.

“It got a lot of attention,” reflected Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson, in perhaps the understatement of the season.

2009: NCAA TOURNAMENT HOSTING: Hidden Hurdles and Helpful Hints

As college basketball moves into its season of review and reflection, doubtless there will be many discussions about the 2009  Division Itournament and the logistics of seeding, the needs of hosting, the restrictions of television and the current economic reality.

But as the women’s game seeks to strike the balance between a competitively balanced tournament and a well-attended one, we would be remiss to not examine the successes and challenges faced by the host institutions themselves. What lessons were learned and how might they be applied to games and tournaments across the Divisions?

Full Court’s John McGraw and Trevor Goodson are in Frankfort, Kentucky where Defense gets it done in NAIA Elite 8

Most of the time when teams fail to put points on the board in basketball, the outcome is considered ugly.  This was not the case as the top eight teams in the NAIA squared off for a chance to go the prestigious “Fab Four”, the NAIA version of the Final Four.  No team managed more than 63 points which happened when Cumberland (TN) barely edged Lubbock Christian (TX) 63-61.   Earlier in the day Westminster (UT) and Westmont (CA) combined for 75 (39-36) points in what was the lowest scoring game in NAIA tournament history.  These were great games though, games that any basketball junkie would have enjoyed because the defense on display was a close to perfect as possible. 

In other W news, Jayda talk with Sue Bird about her knee surgery

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Pretty good, if you’re a SUNY-New Palz fan

The crowd’s chant began with a minute to play and reached a crescendo at 5:43 p.m. Saturday in the Hawk Center when the SUNY New Paltz women’s basketball team started celebrating.

The chant was “SUNYAC champions.”

New Paltz won its first-ever State University of New York Athletic Conference championship, defeating Geneseo 64-53.

With the title comes an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. The brackets will be announced 2:30 p.m. Monday on NCAA.com.

Ditto if you’re a fan of Hope: Women’s basketball loses to Hope in final seconds of MIAA tourney finals

Hope women’s basketball team came out on top of a closely fought game Saturday afternoon, winning the MIAA tournament championship game 62-59, and gaining an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III tournament.

Super ditto if you’re a Red Hawks fan: At 25-0, Montclair State women’s basketball a surprise juggernaut

For a few rare and ultimately fleeting seconds, the Montclair State University women’s basketball team is actually losing, but the school’s most famous hoops alumna is anything but worried.

“The game is young,” Carol Blazejowski says from her movie theater-style box seat, situated in the top row of the modest bleachers at MSU’s Panzer Athletic Center. It’s a sentence said casually, confidently, the way you might describe the arrival of a train running a minute or two behind schedule.

Pretty good if you are a Tigers fan: Princeton University women’s basketball conquers 33rd straight Ivy League foe, a Buffs fan: Arielle Roberson leads CU Buffs to victory – Colorado struggles on offense, but wins sixth in row, or a fan of Marist, FGCU, Charlotte (Hey, Graham! Hint! Hint!, Green Bay, Albany, Dayton, Toledo, Gonzaga, BU, Texas Southern (First SWAC title in school history. Hey, Graham! Hint! Hint!), Chattanooga, Pacific (Program record for wins), San Diego State, Baylor, UConn, Notre Dame (Triple Double Diggins) and Stanford (CO sets school rebounding record: 24).

Duke fans know their chances for a Final Four were dealt a significant blow when Gray went down. The Blue Devils didn’t miss a beat, though, taking down Florida State and Maryland in comfortable fashion.

St. John’s still on a roll.

Staying in New York: Fordham got a great win over St. Joe’s. Had to take the Hawks to OT to earn their 10th A-10 win and their first 20-win season in 19 years.

A little agita on the sidelines for Tennessee coaches (win), Kentucky coaches (loss), Quinnipiac (win – NEC Champeens), Syracuse (loss – to that feisty USF team), Cal (win) and Southern (loss- giving Alcorn State their 2nd SWAC win), Delaware (win, by the hair on their chinny-chin-chin) and TAMU (lossVandy’s Clark for 30.).

More Bracketology means a road game for Notre Dame?

Let’s get right to addressing the glaring issue in this week’s projected bracket: Notre Dame, a No. 1 seed, potentially would have to play LSU in the second round in Baton Rouge, La.

The pairing obviously is not an ideal situation. However, it’s also not unprecedented. And while the committee (and I) will try to avoid such a scenario, sometimes it just can’t be helped.

The problem started with the addition of St. John’s to the field. That brought the total number of host schools in the tournament to 15. In other words, all but one sub-regional (Columbus, Ohio) will include a host school. That’s great for potential tournament attendance. It’s also a bracketing nightmare.

Nice find from FOB Sue: Miss Basketball’s son carves out his own stellar career

For a while, the chants rang out from the home student section earlier this winter at Concord’s McCuen Gym every time Memorial’s Markese McGuire touched the basketball.

“Your mom’s better! … Your mom’s better!”

There’s any number of ways the chants could’ve been taken.

If the history-appreciating fans meant that McGuire’s mom is better than their own moms — actually an about-face on what all loyal sons once claimed on the playground — well, yeah, that’s a fairly safe bet.

After all, Kim (Barrier) McGuire is still the only Indiana Mr. or Miss Basketball that Elkhart County has ever produced.

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From Charlie.

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Check in on Charlie’s (and his ‘splanation) and then the one over at College Sports Madness

 

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The latest is up, and Charlie asks: Is a neutral site worth a lower seed? – Deciding No. 2 seeds will be committee’s toughest challenge

All weekend long, you’ve been sending emails and tweets declaring how wrong it is not to have Delaware as a No. 2 seed. Ultimately, the Blue Hens’ seed is part of what should end up being the selection committee’s biggest challenge next weekend — deciding which teams should be the four No. 2 seeds and in what order they should be ranked 5 through 8.

In our latest projection, through Sunday’s games, here’s how they stacked up:

5. Maryland
6. Duke
7. Tennessee
8. Kentucky … and then …
9. Miami
10. Delaware

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Here.

Charlie writes about The toughest teams to figure out -Résumés of Delaware, Green Bay, UNC, Texas, K-State and OU? Tricky business

(Kinda wonder why CC doesn’t wait until tomorrow, since these games might have an impact.)

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