Rick Snider: After wild regular season, nothing unpredictable in NCAA brackets

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Sports,College,Rick Snider

Commoners finally are supposed to have a chance to win the NCAA tournament, but the selection committee remained loyal to the blue bloods.

Louisville, Kansas and Indiana were the top three teams and No. 1 seeds Sunday along with Gonzaga, which was ranked first in the polls entering the bracket announcement. Not exactly taking a risk there.

Indeed, No. 2s Georgetown, Duke and Ohio State are also past champions. The only newcomer is Miami.

Mostly, the committee rewards historical excellence. Why, the only kingpin missing is defending champion Kentucky. The Wildcats performing elsewhere in March is like Justin Timberlake singing in beer commercials instead of filling stadiums.

Georgetown has a real chance to advance in the South Region even though skeptics are pumping up No. ?15 Florida Gulf Coast, its opponent Friday in Philadelphia. Everyone in office pools loves hyping the No. 15 upsets, but they don't happen nearly enough to worry.

Florida Gulf Coast beat Miami on Nov. 13, its only win over a top-75 team. Anything before Thanksgiving really doesn't count. If the Hoyas don't beat the Eagles, Georgetown should join the MEAC next season.

While Maryland and Virginia fans are disappointed their teams were not selected, Washingtonians may see the best game of the second weekend at Verizon Center. The East Region final could pit Miami against Indiana. Could former George Mason coach Jim Larranaga repeat his 2006 regional upset on the same court with Miami? Ah, the symbolism.

Miami should have been a No. 1 seed instead of Indiana after winning the ACC regular-season and tournament titles. Is the ACC's pending musical chairs diminishing its reputation with the committee?

That Duke was a No. 2 also is a joke. The Blue Devils somehow were considered for the last No. 1 seed in the West Region despite a lesser season that included two losses to Maryland. If Duke makes it to the Sweet 16, Michigan State will be waiting. Cue offseason music.

There's no way Duke could have been ranked over Gonzaga. The Bulldogs played a soft schedule, but Gonzaga was ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. Still, the Bulldogs are an easy top seed to leave out of your bracket. Instead, No. 2 Ohio State has a real chance to reach the Final Four.

Kansas' path finds an emotional second-rounder against North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who coached the Jayhawks before winning two crowns with the Tar Heels. Kansas should beat North Carolina, but such emotional early-round games usually hurt the winner in the next round.

Louisville is everyone's title choice. Certainly, the Cardinals should skate through the first weekend, but its potential Midwest Region final against Duke or Michigan State might be the toughest any of the top seeds face.

Of course, a few buzzer beaters in the first four days could leave the tournament dramatically different for the second weekend. After all, the madness is beginning.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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