SPORTZ ON SPORTSBLOGGERSLIVE: Look for me on AOL Sports: Sports Bloggers Live on Sunday night to hear me break down one of the regions.
DON'T BET ON THE #1 TEAM: With UConn and Villanova already losing....who will be the #1 team in the land when the tournament starts?? Well, none of them would like to be. Of the last 23 teams that entered the tournament as the #1 team....only THREE have gone on to win the thing. Those three are Duke , UCLA  and Duke . In fact, the #1 team isn't a solid pick at all. Take a look...
2005-Illinois, lost in National Championship game
2004-Stanford, lost in 2nd round
2003-Kentucky, lost in Elite 8
2002-Duke, lost in Elite 8
2001-Duke, won title
2000-Duke, lost in Sweet 16
1999-Duke, lost in National Championship game
1998-North Carolina, lost in Final Four
1997-Kansas, lost in Sweet 16
1996-UMass, lost in Final Four
1995-UCLA, won title
1994-North Carolina, lost in 2nd round
1993-Indiana, lost in Elite 8
1992-Duke, won title
1991-UNLV, lost in Final Four
1990-Oklahoma, lost in 2nd round
1989-Arizona, lost in Sweet 16
1988-Temple, lost in Elite 8
Okay, so of the last 18 years....the #1 ranked team entering the tournament has won the title THREE times...played in the title game just FIVE times....and gotten to the Final Four EIGHT times. Amazing huh??? Amazing since SIX of the teams never even made it past the halfway mark in the tournament [winning in the Sweet 16].
And, remember, of those three #1 teams to win it......TWO of them needed a memorable buzzer beater to advance. Remember Tyus Edney's running layup as time expired for UCLA in 1995?? And I think you remember that Laettner shot in 1992. So betting on the top dawg isn't something you may want to bank on.
MEMPHIS DESERVES THEIR #1 SEED: Well, if they beat UAB today, that is. But there are many people out there that are trying to bump the Tigers outta that top spot in favor of Ohio State. Look, Memphis deserves it. Sure, Conference USA sucks, especially from the middle on down. But they cannot help that. What they can help is how they win those games. The Tigers have been BLOWING out everyone in the C-USA....with the exception of their late season loss at UAB....and UAB is looking good as a tournament team. Their other two losses were to Duke [by 3] and Texas [by 11]. Oh, and they've won at Alabama, at Cincinnati and at home against Wis-Milwaukee, Gonzaga, UCLA, Winthrop and Tennessee. ALL of those teams will be playing in the NCAAs.
BUT MEMPHIS WON'T WIN THE TITLE: The last 15 National Champions have come from those "BCS" conferences. Memphis isn't in one of those conferences. The ACC has won six [Duke-3, UNC-2, Maryland], the Big East has won three [UConn-2, Syracuse], the SEC has won three [Kentucky-2, Arkansas], the Pac-10 has won two [UCLA, Arizona] and the Big Ten won one [Michigan State]. The last non-"BCS" conference team to win the title was UNLV back in 1990.
MEMPHIS MAY NOT GET TO FINAL FOUR ANYWAYS: In fact, of the last NINE Final Fours....which is 36 teams....only THREE teams from non-"BCS" conferences even got to the Final Four. Louisville last year [who is now in a BCS league], Marquette in 2003 [who also is now in a BCS league] and Utah back in 1998. Good news for Memphis is that two of those three Final Four crashers came from Conference USA.
AND THEY MAY NOT EVEN GET TO THE SWEET 16: How's this for a stat?? In EVERY even numbered year since and including 1990[and 2006 is one] at least one #1 seed has been beaten in the 2nd round. And just only in EVEN numbered years. It didn't happen in an odd numbered year during that stretch. Amazing.
OHIO STATE MAY STILL DESERVE ONE TOO: This isn't a smack of OSU, but if they win the Big Ten tournament [I have them being upset by Indiana today], they have a good shot. But....realize this:
THE WORST #1 AND BEST #2 WILL BE IN OAKLAND'S BRACKET: Both Ohio State and Memphis will most likely be in the Oakland bracket as #1 and #2. It happens. Last year, Washington and Wake Forest...two teams battling for #1 seed....were placed in the Albuquerque bracket. Of course, both lost in the 2nd round. The year before, St Joseph's and Oklahoma State were placed in the same bracket...and they did meet in the Elite 8 with Okie State winning a thriller.
REALLY, IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN #1 AND #2 SEEDS?? I've always told people that the one difference between being #1 and #2 is the number 16. For one, the 16th seed has never beaten a #1 seed....where as the #2 seed has been upset a couple of times [4 to be exact]. Of course, being a #2 seed...you aren't supposed to let that happen anyways. But the really, really, really key difference between the 1 and 2 seeds is who you play in the Sweet 16. The top seed will take on a #4 or #5 seed...who is dangerous but also flawed. The #2 seed will face off against a #3 seed....who is more similar to power to them. That's the difference. ESPN.com's bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Memphis and Ohio State in the same bracket. Now, if both get to the Sweet 16.....he has UCLA or Kansas as possible foes for Memphis, while Ohio State may get Pittsburgh.
WHAT ABOUT GEORGE WASHINGTON: I don't think G-Wash should get a seeding above a #4.....and I would think they'd be a #5 or #6 seed. Why? Well, injuries are a factor, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu will be out for who knows how long? Plus, who really have they played??? Look at their schedule...and you will see that the Colonels played only TWO teams that will be in the NCAA tournament. One will be the winner of Xavier-St. Joe's [A-10 title game] in which neither team would've been an at-large team.....and NC State. NC State beat G-Dub by 21 in their meeting. This is a classic tourny case of "how can you play against the big boys". We'll see.
DON'T BET ON THE FAVORITES: Never has all four #1 seeds made it to the Final Four. Never. In fact, only THREE times has three of the #1 seeds made it to the Final Four. It happened in 1999, 1997 and 1993. That 1993 FF featured top seeds UNC, Kentucky and Michigan....with #2 seeded Kansas joining them.....making it the most powerful Final Four ever. But half of the six Final Fours played this decade saw only ONE top seed get to the Final Four....and of the last THREE National Champions, only North Carolina last year won the tournament as a top seed.
THOSE #12 SEEDS ARE UNDERVALUED: In the last 21 NCAA tournaments, a #12 seed has won a game in 19 of them. Now, in today's bracketology, that means that one of the final at-large teams actually win a game. So, keep an eye on these conference tournaments to figure out who your horse may be.
DON'T LIVE AND DIE BY THE RPI: The RPI is completely inflated this year. That's why all those Missouri Valley teams are so high....as well as George Mason. So what does this mean?? Well, normally, the "BCS" conferences receive 3/4 of the at-large bids...and it shouldn't change this year. So, there may be some hard feelings in some of the lockerrooms of those MVC teams.
GUARD PLAY IS IMPORTANT....WELL IN THE BEGINNING: The biggest cliche that you will hear during the 48 games in the first weekend of the dance is how important guard-play is to advancing. Well, duh. In the first couple of rounds....when teams are trying to beat teams like them...the guards who protect the ball and are hot shooting usually advance teams. However, once you get past that weekend...it is the post guys that matter. When you get to the Sweet 16, pretty much everyone has great guard play [I mean, didn't they all advance...heh, heh?]. Look at the titles. North Carolina rode Sean May over the last four games of the tournament last year. UConn used Emeka Okafor's offensive and defensive dominance in 2004. In 2003....it was Carmelo Anthony pretty much taking over that tournament. Sure, the guard play is still very important and a big key into winning....but the size and skill inside seperates teams who both possess great guards.