First Reactions to Selection Sunday

The 68 teams fighting for a NCAA title have been announced.

As the matchups are now set, here's some initial reactions to this year's Selection Sunday.

1) Go back to the original reveal.

I have to start with this first. When CBS/Turner decided the new format to reveal the field of 68, I was intrigued. It seemed like it'd knock the drama and butterflies early for a lot of bubble teams before getting to the business and interest of the pairings. Instead, it was annoying. Kudos to CBS/TBS for trying something different. However, let's all hope they don't do it this way again.

2) There was no love for the mid-majors.

I've been a firm believer that the format for mid-major tournaments should change. To make the NCAA tournament stronger, as well as put more emphasis on the regular season, mid-majors should exempt the regular season champion from the tournament. Instead, they should have a tournament featuring all the other schools with the winner going on the road to play the regular season champion in their gym.

I stand by this as I saw a 24-7 Middle Tennessee team, who notably took down Michigan State a few years ago in the Big Dance, get snubbed from this year's tournament. You can't fault the Blue Raiders for their non-conference slate; they beat Vanderbilt and Ole Miss while barely losing to Auburn, Southern Cal, and Miami. One bad night against Southern Miss cost them dearly, which brings me to my next point...

3) Conference records should count for something.

While teams should be rewarded for playing tougher schedules, teams that don't go at least .500 in conference play shouldn't be in the Big Dance unless they win their conference tournament. This year, Syracuse went 8-10 in the ACC and got in. Oklahoma went 8-10 in the Big 12, as did Texas, yet both are sitting safely in the tournament. Alabama went 8-10 as well in the SEC, yet Colin Sexton's heroics got the Crimson Tide on the right side of the bubble.

And Arizona State, who took down Kansas before sliding to 8th in the Pac-12 standings, managed to get in while USC, who finished 2nd in the conference, did not. Granted, the Sun Devils actually could go on a big run as the bracket looks good for them should they survive their First Four game. However, I'd have liked to see a few more Middle Tennessees and Vermonts in there before the sub-.500 squads.

4) Some quick predictions...

Toughest Region — South. A potential Kentucky vs. Arizona in the Round of 32 is brutal. I really like Cincinnati as well; plus they have the team I think could be the Cinderella of the Big Dance.

Region of Chaos — Midwest. New Mexico State is dangerous. So is Charleston. If Arizona State finds its December form, it can cause trouble. And Rhode Island is one of those sneaky good teams that might give Duke all sorts of problems.

Cinderella — Loyola-Chicago. The Missouri Valley champs already took down Florida in Gainesville. They won't be scared of Miami and are good enough to get to the Sweet 16.

Final Four Sleeper — Houston. Kelvin Sampson's team has quietly racked up wins over Arkansas, Wichita State and Providence. Four Cougars average in double figures and they are playing really good basketball right now. They will be a very tough out. Also...

Final Four Sleeper #2 — Wichita State. Teams with depth tend to do very, very well come March. Fresh legs definitely matter in the Big Dance and Gregg Marshall's squad has as deep a bench as they come. The Shockers can score; if they can match the "Play Angry" defensive mentality of recent teams, they could be a force.

16-Seed Over a 1-Seed? — Not this year. Closest game will likely be Kansas/Penn. Disciplined Ivy teams tend to be thorns. The last Ivy as a 16? Princeton, who also was the closest to knock off a top seed in the round of 64.

Final Four Predictions — East: Villanova (over Purdue), South: Cincinnati (over Kentucky), Midwest: Kansas (over Duke) and West: North Carolina (over Gonzaga)

National Champion — In a rematch of 2016, the result will be the same: Villanova over North Carolina

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