If you are like me, sleep was hard to come by last night. You see, college basketball loves tend to compare today to a very popular day - Christmas. Meh, today is better. Today is Selection Sunday and the start of the best tournament in the world. As I watched conference tournaments over the weekend, I couldn't help but say to myself "take your Super Bowl, go ahead and have the college football playoff, I'll take the month of March forever and ever". It helps that for the past 16 years, our beloved Zags have been selected on this wonderful day. They will make it a 17th straight time today and, with that, let's look and some things to watch before the brackets are unveiled:
WHERE will the Zags be placed?
It isn't really the seed that is a hot debate as I think mostly everyone is in agreement that Gonzaga will be a two-seed. It would come as a pretty large shock to see this team placed anywhere below that line. The question now is what region. The odds of a West bracket placement are considerably low as Arizona is the odds on favorite to get that spot unless they somehow jump up on the one-line. With that likely not happening, the Zags will wind up in the South or Midwest most likely. The latter would be unfortunate as that is probably where Kentucky will wind up but we will cross that bridge when we get there.
The goal with all this placement discussion is that Gonzaga winds up in Seattle or Portland for the first two rounds. It sounds like Seattle is a very realistic destination as the No. 2 seed should allot the Zags some regional protection.
What about those one seeds?
At this point, I would call two teams as "locks" for a one seed. Kentucky will the be the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament and will likely be in the Midwest. Villanova, the Big East regular season and tournament champion, will be the one seed out in the East bracket. Then you have a bunch of teams that all can stake a claim to the top line but all have question markets. That group primarily consists of Duke, Virginia, and Wisconsin. If Wisconsin can win the Big Ten championship today, they will move into 'lock' territory as there are few teams playing better basketball than the Badgers. Virginia has been moving the opposite direction over the past several weeks so I would anticipate Duke getting the last one seed. Arizona is on the outside looking in but if the committee really wants to seed regionally on the top line, they could justify Arizona out West.
What about our friends in Provo?
BYU, like our friends Saint Mary's in years past, is one of the more intriguing bubble teams of the bunch. Like old Saint Mary's teams, BYU is one of the more appealing offensive clubs in the country but their resume is lacking. BYU is relying on its late season win over Gonzaga to carry it through to the tournament and it does look like that will be enough. Most bracketologists have the Cougars in the field right now but they are absolutely a bubble team. With a team like Wyoming winning the Mountain West and grabbing an auto-bid, it further diminishes the number of spots for bubble teams so we will see what happens tomorrow. I think at this point, it would be a surprise to not hear BYU's name called today but stranger things have happened on Selection Sunday.
Alright, so if we are a two seed, what teams may we see early in the tournament?
I won't delve into a scouting report on the various possible 15 seeds but it will be an automatic bid like North Dakota St., Belmont, UC Irvine, Albany, etc. We saw against Southern a couple years ago that the lowest of low seeds should not be taken lightly so the Zags will need to come out hot right away in the tournament. If they do advance past the opening round, look for teams like Butler, Purdue,Oregon, LSU, North Carolina State, etc to be in the 7 vs. 10 seed matchup.
Keep it tuned here! The selection show will be here before you know it!