It's the most wonderful time of the year, and thanks to another Big Ten Championship blow out, we get an extra forty minutes of discussion before it goes down. So let's get started with the talking heads:
5:26 pm Seth Davis starts saying Ohio State is closer to the East, and are a lock there. Kansas is headed to San Antonio. In my opinion, UNC has decent chance of avoiding both.
5:28 pm The great thing about the TNT deal is that we get Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley along for the selection show. Although Barkley in particular is getting off to a slow start, looking uncomfortable.
5:30 pm A few words on my predictions, which I believe I've made elsewhere but not here. Duke is the fourth number one seed, and is sent to the West. UNC is the second number two seed, and goes to the Southeast. This gets them a regional in New Orleans, where they've had a fair bit of success. There is a risk they'll fall to the East or Southwest, which would be worse, but the risk isn't high.
Florida State will be in, but I don't know where. Clemson and Virginia Tech look to be among the last four in, and BC isn't on anyone's list, I'm afraid.
5:33 pm I'd hoped that with his return to coaching, I'd be free of Steve Lavin opining on the tournament. That is not the case, unfortunately.
5:34 pm Here, by the way, is the mothership's final prediction for the bracket. I disagree with this immensely. No clue how you put San Diego State and Florida ahead of UNC.
5:36 pm Charles Barkley, to Lavin: "I don't think Big East has eleven good teams. If they did have eleven good teams, do you think Connecticut could win five games in five days?" Lavin responds saying the margin between the best team and the worst team is razor thin. He's insane.
5:38 pm Bill Self: "I'd rather have the right matchups then be a number one seed." Translation: "I really want Duke's draw from last year."
5:43 pm Kenny Smith is asking Frank Martin how they're getting to the Final Four. They're not. They're basically Virginia Tech.
5:47 pm Window's is determined to ruin this Sleigh Bells song for me with their commercial.
5:49 pm Michigan fans: Shut up! The grown-ups are talking.
5:50 pm Seriously, why do coaches hold these interviews in packed gyms? It doesn't make for good TV, especially when it's a big school like Michigan. It's not like the fans are long-suffering or anything.
5:53 pm I can only assume that Kenny Smith is punching the desk in frustration during this ACC tournament highlight package.
5:54 pm Smith starts to say something, then stops. "Sorry, I just couldn't say another nice thing about Duke."
5:55 pm Barkley: "John Calipari will yell at you. That's called coaching." His point is good though, that a lot of players don't know how to take criticism. The 2005 championship squad had that problem under Doherty as freshmen.
6:00 pm Ohio State is the overall #1, and they have the good grace to look surprised.
6:03 pm Other top seeds are Kansas, Pitt, and Duke exactly in the four regions you'd expect. (Duke in the West.)
6:08 pm Subway: Our sandwiches are so good women will prostitute themselves for them!
6:15 pm The East Region:
This is a rough draw for UNC. The selection committee has them as the worst two-seed, which is a bit of a travesty. Also, four Big East teams in one region? That's just nuts.
6:23 pm The West Region:
Duke doesn't have quite the cakewalk as last year, but they still have a pair of overseeded teams in Connecticut – now exhausted – and San Diego State. Hopefully Texas can give them a game, but I'm skeptical.
6:31 pm The Southwest Region:
Ah, the NCAA's patented "this was totally unintentional move" this year is the potential second round matchup between Bill Self and Illinois. Other than that, this is a pretty easy road for the Jayhawks. Notre Dame will put up a fight, but until then it's pretty easy going. Also note that Notre Dame, who people crazily had as a one, is the second worst 2-seed. Ahead of, oddly enough, UNC.
6:39 pm The Southeast:
This is great for Pitt. Florida is a weak two, Wisconsin a slow-playing four. I always overpick Pitt, but I just can't see how they don't make it to the Final Four. Putting Florida ahead of UNC and Notre Dame is just insane, by the way. Heck, Brigham Young is a better 2-seed.
6:42 pm There's going to be a lot of complaints about who is left out. Alabama, Virginia Tech, and Colorado have legitimate beefs.
6:44 pm Barkley's Auburn roots are really offended by Georgia's 10-seed.
6:46 pm I haven't had much time to take in the big view, but on first glance the East is the toughest region, the Southeast the easiest. Not much worth mentioning about the other two. I don't expect UNC to get past the Sweet Sixteen.
6:49 pm Gene Smith: "A lot of people put a lot of emphasis on head-to-head." The committee obviously doesn't. Smith also says UNC was never a factor for a number one seed. Fair.
6:52 pm I will say this was a great year to put in a lot of mid-major teams. There's a lot of parity, and I'm not going to miss Virginia Tech or Alabama, really.
6:54 pm Both ACC folks – Seth Davis and Kenny Smith – like Ohio State vs. UNC in the Elite Eight. But all but one thinks Kansas is winning it all. Barnes vs. Sullinger would be a great game, but I have trouble seeing the Heels not tripping up before then.
6:58 pm And CBS is out. Over to ESPN for some extreme bitching, I think.
6:59 pm A lot of people on Twitter are making hay about Gene Smith's "style of play" comment. I think he's referring to how teams win – complete games versus, say, UNC's recent efforts – rather than tempo or other styles.
7:02 pm Jay Bilas is really offended by VCU and UAB's inclusion. No one was considering them. He's got a good point, why not just put Harvard in there instead of VCU?
7:04 pm Hubert Davis: "If Colorado and Virginia tech cannot get in under these conditions, they will never get in." I'll go with never.
7:08 pm The girlfriend, about DIck Vitale: "Why is this man yelling at me?" Also, my new theory about the selection committee. They meant to put Virginia Tech in, but the iPhone they were texting on autocompleted it as VCU.
7:12 pm Although when the numbers such as record vs. Top 50 and wins vs. 200+, VCU doesn't look that bad compared to Virginia Tech. Colorado looks much better than either, though.
7:16 pm Doug Gottlieb doesn't like Clemson getting in. Not beating Duke and UNC shoudn't rule you out though – they went over .500 in the ACC, after all.
7:19 pm The mothership has a nifty printable NCAA bracket out for everyone, by the way.
7:22 pm As ESPN is going heavy on the RPI, it's worth remembering Ken Pomeroy's article for Slate on how bad the RPI is.
7:28 pm ESPN was obviously not prepared to have this much to complain about, so we're subjected to a multiple-minute paean to filling out a bracket. Yawn.
7:29 pm Jay Bilas, by the way, tweeted more complaints about VCU and UAB during the puff piece. He's a consummate professional.
7:36 pm Looking ahead for UNC, I'm really excited to see Isaiah Thomas face UNC, after hearing so much about him. Syracuse in Sweet 16 is really dangerous though. They one five straight to close out the regular season.
7:47 pm ESPN's guys are really having difficuty remembering to cal the old first round the second round. As they should, it's the first round. If the other four games were the first round, they wouldn't be on TruTV.
7:59 pm Kentucky media on Twitter – and Kentucky fans are pissed, folks – quote Gene Smith as saying the seeding was decided on Saturday. That's a pretty bizarre philosophy to take; I suppose Sunday was just for shuffling teams around the regions?
8:03 pm ESPN says Pittsburgh is 1-7 against teams seeded 5th or higher in the tournament. There's a decent chance they won't meet someone of that seed until the Elite Eight or beyond, though.
8:08 pm Doug Gottlieb calls Florida the most overseeded team in the tournament. But uses Texas as a four as a corresponding travesty, not Kentucky. Sorry, Wildcat fans.
8:18 pm After a painful interview with Nolan Smith, Jimmer Fredette, and Kemba Walker, Rece Davis asks them all to name the mascot of their first-round opponents. All three draw a blank, then Nolan Smith is fed the answer from off-camera. Cheatin' Dukies.
8:27 pm All right, I'm worn out. I'll keep Twitter open for the NIT news – the hot rumor is that BC could play on the road against Harvard – but otherwise that's enough for me. Tournament coverage begins in earnest tomorrow.