The NCAA Tournament is set to tip off at 6:40 PM ET on Tuesday night, with the first of four “First Four” games from Dayton over tonight and Wednesday that will get us down to 64 teams by the time the full field starts up on Thursday afternoon. TheSportsNotebook’s coverage has begun. Here’s a brief summation of what’s available here online, what will be available and how we’ll be approaching NCAA Tournament coverage here between now and when the national champion is crowned in Dallas on April 7…
*A general overview of the entire bracket, with my own obligatory Final Four picks is posted here.
*Each regional has a specific preview that is split into two parts. We have one “tale of the tape” that is strictly information on each team in region, a concise summation of what’s notable in their body of work this season and the personnel. Then the second part includes nine general thoughts from TheSportsNotebook and game-by-game picks.
The Midwest and South previews are completed and posted at the links below. These are the only two regions in action on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ll follow up with the East and West brackets tomorrow prior to their opening on Thursday. The links below are for the general preview of each region, and the “tale of the tape” link is posted within that preview at the top.
*An ambitious podcasting schedule is also planned in conjunction with Prime Sports Network. I was on this past Friday night (and correctly called SMU as the team everyone would be surprised about on Selection Sunday). Then last night I had the good fortune to share the stage with a Hall of Fame basketball writer in Frank Burlison as we previewed the entire field along with host Greg DePalma.
The links to those shows, as well as the schedule moving forward (which includes a complete baseball preview on March 31) is posted here.
*TheSportsNotebook has covered every game of the NCAA Tournament in both 2012 and 2013, and the same plan is in place for 2014. At minimum, we’ll have a boxscore note on all 67 games, along with other commentary. There will also be a fresh round of previews posted prior to the Sweet 16 next week (after my first batch of picks is rendered irrelevant) and of course a complete preview of the Final Four and the national championship game. Recaps start tomorrow morning, as the First Four gets underway.
READ ABOUT THE MODERN HISTORY OF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
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And on a final note, I’m going to again begin what’s now my annual resistance movement to absolutely refuse to call the Thursday/Friday games “the second round” and the Saturday/Sunday games “the third round” as the NCAA insists we do.
The First Four is not a “round”, it’s a play-in spot. Essentially, the NCAA is asking us to believe that 60 of 68 teams earned first-round byes. Here’s the problem—to call something a bye, the presumption should be that the norm is to actually play. In the NFL, we say four teams got byes because twice that number are actually playing in the first round. Or in the NCAA Tournament from 1980-84 when it was 48 teams, and you had 16 getting a bye—it’s because twice that number had to play. I’m sorry, when 60 teams are idle and eight are playing, the norm is to be off, hence is not a bye.
Let’s just call it The First Four. It’s a nice marketing name that fits the NCAA Tournament well. Okay, my rant is done, but you’ll at least understand my terminology here over the next few weeks. From the First Four to the Final Four, TheSportsNotebook will be on top of the NCAA Tournament coverage.