CBS will air the NCAA Tournament Selection Show at 6:00 p.m. today and unveil the NCAA Tournament bracket. The following are the Top 11 games that the bracket might bring:
11. Cincinnati v. Xavier: Because we’ll never get Pacquiao – Mayweather, we may as well watch this again.
The NCAA Selection Committee is unlikely to share this sentiment, however, and will probably not even let these teams play on the same side of the country, let alone the same side of the bracket.
10. Baylor v. Louisville: One word: uniforms.
9. Duke v. UNLV: These two teams haven’t played each other since their 1991 tournament semifinal game. Duke won that game en route to the 1991 title, getting some revenge for the 1990 championship game in which UNLV waxed the Blue Devils 103-73.
This season, the Runnin’ Rebels have been ranked as high as 11th in the AP poll, but they are a far cry from Jerry Tarkanian’s juggernaut teams that featured Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, and Greg Anthony.
Still, it would be fun to see the teams square off again.
8. Notre Dame v. Florida State: These schools renewed their storied football rivalry a few months ago in the Champs Sports Bowl. Florida State took that one 18-14.
Despite repeated gridiron match-ups, Florida State and Notre Dame have faced each other in exactly one basketball game: in last year’s NCAA Tournament, ten-seed Florida State knocked off the second-seeded Irish 71-57 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
I apparently missed this game last year: maybe I will get another chance this March.
7. Davidson v. Harvard: The “Harvard of the South” against the actual, well, Harvard.
6. Michigan State v. UNC: The Tar Heels have won the last six meetings between these programs. Included in that streak are the 2009 national title game and the first game of this season, which was played on the deck of an aircraft carrier in San Diego (I am not making that up).
Michigan State is 3-11 all-time against UNC and last defeated the Tar Heels on November 29, 2000. Here’s hoping Izzo and the Spartans get another crack at Ol’ Roy’s bunch (and come out on the right side).
5. U.Va. v. Wisconsin: If you are a fan of offense, you may want to skip this one. Through games of March 8, Wisconsin led the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 51.9 points per game. U.Va. was second, giving up 53.2 per contest. (Word to the wise: bet the under.)
This match-up would also pit U.Va. head coach Tony Bennett against his former boss, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan.
4. Wichita State v. Kansas: Wichita State is the defending NIT Champion and looks solid to earn an at-large bid out of the Missouri Valley Conference. This is a David and Goliath in-state rivalry that was last played on January 6, 1993, a 103-54 home victory for Kansas. Kansas holds the all-time edge over Shockers 12-2, so it would be cool to see Wichita State with a chance to notch some measure of payback when the stakes are high.
Interestingly, Wichita State’s first victory in the series came on March 20, 1981, when the two teams played in the NCAA tournament. Wichita State won that game 66-65 and advanced to the Elite Eight.
Bleedin’ Kansas, indeed.
3. Indiana v. UNC: I’m normally not much for “storyline” games, and it pains me to include UNC twice, but this one could be great. Not quite the Civil War, but still brother against brother. Which Zeller would you bet on: ACC Player of the Year Tyler, or Big Ten Freshman of the Year Cody?
2. VCU v. Missouri: The old boxing adage says that styles make fights. These teams’ styles are opposite sides of the same coin. I will be glued to the television if the Tigers’ potent four-guard offense is matched up against the Rams’ “havoc” pressure defense.
The entertainment value in this one would be through the roof, and there is a bonus for novelty as well: the teams have played only once previously, when Missouri defeated VCU 71-66 on December 9, 1971. Rams coach Shaka Smart had not even been born when that game was played.
1. Kentucky v. Syracuse: These two teams have been 1 and 1(a) all season long, so it would be a worthy (if unlikely) national final. Kentucky coach John Calipari is probably the best current college coach not to have won a national championship; Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim formerly held that distinction (and should be forever grateful to Carmelo Anthony for lifting that albatross).
Check your bracket tonight to see if any of these might actually come to pass.