Well, Mike Wilbon and others might see this season (and tournament field) as an exercise in mediocrity, with the parity between the bottom and the top as a display of the lack of true dominance by any one team, especially those below a 2 seed and above a 14. But do we really wanna watch another year where the only thing in question is which number 1 (or maybe no. 2) will win the whole thing, with a negligible amount of upsets? Answer (and this would be the mulligan on a test like the SATs): NO!
Before I get into why this parity is a good thing, I have to refute Wilbon. There are dominant teams, which should be able to run the table, at least to the regional finals, if they can execute their games: UCLA, Kansas, UNC, Tennessee and Georgetown.
This is one of the most exciting fields I can remember- even when wichita state and George Mason made their runs two years ago, it was a total surprise (it wasn't the kind of field of parity and excitement this year has produced).
There are so many match-ups that have me salivating I can barely contain myself. And please don't be offended by my possible match-ups these are merely the one's that I have in most of my brackets. And I am ignoring the 8 v. 9 match-ups because i don't have to tell you those are gonna be some good games
No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 12 George Mason: If either team dominates the boards, anything can happen.
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 St. Joe's: St. Joe's have shown their ability to baffle "better" teams; and nothing against OU, who has looked stellar at times, but they've also shown they can drop the ball in big games.
2ND ROUND (possible match-ups):
No. 3 Louisville vs. St. Joe's: Again, St. Joe's has shown they can be clutch at times and Louisville has had a... inconsistent record in the tourney recently under Rick Pitino.
No. 2 Tenn. vs. No. 7 Butler: All i can say is: Butler is a 7 seed? I'm sure Bruce Pearl said the same thing when he saw the brackets. Bound to be one hell of a game, barring collapse by either in the first round. The committee sure didn't make it easy on the Vols, but you gotta win your conf. tourney if you wanna have easy street in the big dance.
No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 Villanova: Not to say that 'Nova deserved a better seeding, but their ability to be clutch at times (See St. Joe's), Scottie Reynolds' surefire spark and the Tigers' inability to plug the important free-throws (Oliver Purnell will be on them all week about that, we'll see if it has an effect), has the makings of a close, great game.
No. 6 USC vs. No. 11 Kansas State: Two words- Mayo & Beasley. There's alot more to it but man, oh man.
No. 7 Gonzaga vs. No. 10 Davidson: The initiator of mid-major dominance in the modern era vs. the up and comer mid-major. Does Few still have some tricks in his bag? We'll see.
Winner of Vandy v. Sienna vs. winner of Clemson v. 'Nova: Well doesn't that just say it all. And the winner is... um, well, with that much parity in a 4 team bracket I don't even know where to start (most of the 5 v. 12, 4 v. 13's are that way this year-hell yes!)
No. 3 Wisconsin vs. USC: Badgers' aren't happy with a 3 seed after winning the Big 10 regular season and tournament, let's see if Bo Ryan can stop the streak of collapses in recent tourneys (see Pitino)
No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Temple: Izzo is good in the tournament, but the spartans were inconsistent this year. Pageing Drew Neitzel: Will you be a hero?
No. 6 Marquette vs. No. 11 Kentucky: Gillespie wants to prove he deserved the bid over Arizona State, Dayton, ect., get a win.
No. 3 Stanford vs. No. 14 Cornell: How good is the Ivy league? Don't expect too much against the twin towers, but stranger things have happened.
No. 7 Miami vs. No. 10 St. Mary's: Should be very, very interesting.
Oregon vs. Memphis: Again a dominant team whose functional flaw to becoming a champion is weak free-throw shooting
Michigan State (or Temple) vs. Pitt.: hmmmmmmmm.
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 14 Georgia: Nobody thought the dawgs were this good, and what a hot streak to be a fourteen seed. If Xavier can weather Georgia's excitment, the musketeers will pull through the emotional storm of a team who is playing on borrowed time.
No. 7 West Virginia vs. No. 10 Arizona: Two teams who looked like they were hurting not so long ago. WVU's Alexander is a force to be recconed with. Even with stellar (finally uninjured) backcourt play with Bayless and the rest of the guards, 'Zona's bigs will have to step up in a big way, but very winnable for either club.