... and where your local bar will not be over-run by black horn-rimmed glasses and skinny jeans-wearing hipsters.
Alright sports fans, the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament field is set. The bracket can be found here.
Some quick observations:
- We've got no problems with the #1 seeds: Ohio State, Duke, Kansas and Pitt though Pitt was a mild surprise with their early exit from the Big East Conference tournament.
- San Diego St., with their big win against BYU in the finals of the Mountain West Conference tournament on Saturday, earned themselves a #2 seed in the West region where they will play Northern Colorado in Tucson on Thursday afternoon. Some locals were whining that they deserved a #1 seed which is non-sense. Besides, it doesn't matter: If they win two in Tucson then they play the regional games right up the road in Anaheim. This really is a best-case scenario for State.
- CBS will be farming-out some of their early round games to TBS, TNT and something called tru.tv. CBS will probably select from their usual stable of announcers for all the games regardless of what network is carrying them but the wild card here is the inclusion of Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley part of the best studio show on television (NBA on TNT) and who took part in CBS' selection show special yesterday. The big question of course is how Kenny and Sir Charles' "pro game" will translate to the "college game" they will be asked to analyze. Much like how Fox just doesn't quite "get" college football when they broadcast a few BCS bowl games at the end of the season, we're skeptical of this arrangement but on the flip side, hoops is hoops and both Smith (North Carolina) and Barkley (Auburn) enjoyed extremely successful 4-year college careers so college ball is not exactly virgin territory for these guys.
- The ESPN studio crew was as critical of the selection process as we have ever heard. Jay Bilas, in particular, slammed the selection committee's exclusion of Virginia Tech (beat Duke) and Colorado (beat Texas, Missouri and Kansas State three times) in favor of granting admission to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
- The tournament expanded the field from 64 to 68 this year and we're not sure quite how it works or more precisely why they are doing it. There are four games in what they are now calling the "first round", playing for 2 #16 seeds and a #11 seed and a #12 seed, respectively. The #11 seed and #12 seed "play-in" games are particularly baffling as these games would appear to be designed for letting the tournament selection committee off the hook with respect to making tough choices on bubble teams - in this case, USC, UAB, VCU and Clemson. Very strange.
No matter. We're looking forward to the games and the new broadcast arrangements.