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And The Valley Shook Bayou Bracket-alysis

In my mind, the NCAA men's basketball tournament is king. I don't hide the fact that I think it's the most exciting time in sports. Between the near 12 hours of live hoops, bracket contests, upsets, and tradition, I don't think the NCAA tournament can be beat. As with anything else, the NCAA has tried to mess it up by adding teams, but they were at least smart enough to cut it off at 68 teams. In anything though, it worked out in the first year, where VCU won 5 games to make the final 4, proving that literally every team has a chance.

I got kind of bored and though that I would try my own mock bracket. I will also admit that I don't know every single rule that the committee must follow. I tried my best to adhere to the rules that I know, such as the top 16 being "protected" through the first two rounds, as well as the conferences not playing their own teams. Here's what I came up with, as of 1/19/12.

I start with the East because overall #1 would be Syracuse at this time, and they would be placed in that region. Kentucky is the South. Baylor is the Midwest. Duke is the West. Therefore, it would be East vs. West, South vs. Midwest in the Final 4. I excluded regional site analysis, mostly because it would shake everything up. What I tried to capture more than anything is who do I think is in, and what seed would they have at the conclusion of Thursday night's games.

I ranked the top 16 teams as I would have them going into the tournament right now. Therefore, Missouri is the strongest 2 seed and the order goes upward, Virginia is the strongest 3, etc all the way through the 4 seeds. The rest of the teams from 5 seeds onward aren't necessarily in that same order, and instead try to reflect how they might match up while keeping repeat games and conference foes out of the way.

East Region:

1 Syracuse
16 Stony Brook/Texas Arlington

8 Wichita State
9 Xavier

5 Murray State
12 St. Louis

4 Indiana
13 Colorado State

6 Mississippi State
11 Dayton

3 Virginia
14 Oral Roberts

7 West Virginia
10 Harvard

2 Michigan State
15 Milwaukee

South Region:

1 Kentucky
16 Norfolk State

8 Purdue
9 Stanford

5 Connecticut
12 Southern Mississippi/Iowa State

4 Creighton
13 Middle Tennessee State

6 St. Mary's
11 Florida State

3 San Diego State
14 Belmont

7 Kansas State
10 Alabama

2 Ohio State
15 Weber State

Midwest Region:

1 Baylor
16 Long Island

8 New Mexico
9 Cincinnati

5 Gonzaga
12 Iona

4 Michigan
13 North Carolina State

6 Seton Hall
11 Northwestern

3 North Carolina
14 Nevada

7 Marquette
10 BYU

2 Kansas
15 Long Beach State

West Region:

1 Duke
16 UNC - Asheville/Mississippi Valley State

8 Louisville
9 Wisconsin

5 Florida
12 Marshall

13 Davidson

6 Illinois
11 Memphis/California

3 Georgetown
14 George Mason

7 Vanderbilt
10 Temple

2 Missouri
15 Bucknell

Of course, with NCAA basketball comes unpredictability. Upsets in conference tournaments will happen and they will take spots away from some of the teams. I tried my best to make sure there aren't any mistakes, but if there are feel free to bash away if I made a stupid one. I know LSU fans might be bummed they didn't make it, especially since I'm posting this on the LSU blog, but don't fret, because they have tons of opportunities coming up soon to grab a spot.

The final 5 teams in were: North Carolina State, Iowa State, California, Memphis, Southern Mississippi in that order, with Southern Miss being last. Due to my lack of understanding on this, I placed NC State as a 13 seed, while the other teams were 11th or 12th in a play in game. Joe Lunardi uses that format, but since he does not differentiate conference winners from their best team, he never needs that last 13th spot for a team. Jerry Palm, on the other hand, just places them in 13th seed play in games to represent the final teams.