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USC-VCU and Clemson-UAB Should be in Main Draw, Not Play-in Games

The NCAA tournament expanded to a 68-team field this year meaning there are four play-in games. Nobody paid attention to the play-in games in the past (aside from the fans of the participating schools and the people of Dayton), but they’re trying to change things up this year with bigger-name teams to spark more interest. In fact, two of the four play-in games involve teams from the big-time BCS conferences. Clemson and UAB will meet on Tuesday evening while USC and VCU are playing Wednesday evening.

While it’s fun to have some legitimate teams in the play-in games, I have to ask one question: why do they have good squads competing for the right to be entered in the main draw?

The dead giveaway that these play-in games are unfair is that USC and VCU are meeting for the 11-seed, while Clemson and UAB are playing for a 12-seed. Does that make any sense to you? Of course not.

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March Madness 2011 Expert Picks: Del’s Tournament Selections

Is anyone really an expert when it comes to filling out an NCAA Tournament Bracket? The answer is no. However, that doesn’t mean we here at LBS can’t do our best to steer you in the right direction. Doc Brown and Del have decided to shake the dust off from the NFL season and bring you their March Madness 2011 Expert Picks. Here are Del’s selections. Check back tomorrow for Doc Brown’s bracket.

(Click on each region twice to enlarge)

I took Pittsburgh knocking off Ohio State in the National Championship game. The pick that may surprise some people is putting Texas in the Final Four. The more popular choice would be Duke, but the Blue Devils showed a lot of weakness down the stretch despite winning the ACC Tournament. They showed how heavily they rely on Kyle Singler, and if he doesn’t return to form with his jumpshot Duke could run into trouble in a region that includes Texas, UConn and San Diego State. Texas, on the other hand, seems to be flying under the radar a bit because of their No. 4 seed. For quite some time, it looked like the Longhorns could grab the No. 1 overall seed. I wouldn’t be surprised if they feel like they got screwed by the selection committee and play with a chip on their shoulder.

The reason I chose Pitt to cut down the nets is the lack of power in Southeast region. No. 4 seed Wisconsin could very well lose to Belmont in the first round. No. 5 seed Kansas said has been inconsistent all season and will need to work big man Curtis Kelly — who tends to take games off — if they want to do some damage. Pitt should handle either team, and should do the same with BYU or Florida. A banged up Kentucky squad dominated the Gators at times in the SEC championship and BYU will be without its best interior presence.  If the Panthers play Kansas in the Final Four, they should be fairly fresh after coasting through an easy region and could exploit the Jawhawks, who tend to lean heavily on the inexperienced Josh Selby.

Sleeper Pick:  Notre Dame could do some serious damage in this tournament, yet not many analysts are talking about them.  It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Kansas will take the Southwest region, but the Fighting Irish have been tested all season long in the nation’s toughest conference and passed with flying colors, despite falling in the Big East Tournament.  Don’t sleep on Ben Hansbrough and the Irish.

Home Court Advantage in the NCAA Tournament: Who’s Playing Close to Home?

Beginning with Selection Sunday, you have been flooded with nonstop analysis, predictions, previews, expert picks, and more regarding the 2011 NCAA Tournament.  All that information will continue to flood your mind through Thursday afternoon, but there is one topic you may not hear much about in the days leading up to the tournament: home court advantage. That’s because NCAA Tournament games are played at neutral sites, right?  Not exactly. 

Part of the selection committee’s job is to make it so teams that earn higher seeds have to travel less over the course of the tournament.  Obviously, it’s impossible to make life easy on all of the top seeds, but you’d be surprised just how close to home some teams will be playing.  Here are some teams that could enjoy a home-court advantage boost when the tournament begins:

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March Madness 2011 Bracket Contests Offering the Best Prizes

If you’re like many people, you try to enter as many March Madness bracket contests for the NCAA tournament as possible. Hey, if you’re confident in your picks, why not try and maximize your profits, right? With that in mind, here’s a shortcut list that will help you get to all the best contests around that are offering top-shelf prizes.

Let’s start with the pool we have going here at Larry Brown Sports. You can join our group on Facebook. Prizes include video games, clothing, and an iPod stereo dock.

Hooter’s FOX Bracket Challenge is giving out $1 million for a perfect bracket. First prize is a 60″ HD TV and a year-long supply of Hooter’s wings. Second prize is a 3 day/2 night trip for two to Las Vegas. Third prize is a one month supply of Hooter’s wings. Go here to enter

Famous Dave’s Barbecue is offering $1 million if you get everything right, $10,000 if you get all but one or two games right, and $1,000 if you get all but three right. The person who gets the highest score in the country gets a 32gb iPod touch. Go here to enter.

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Video: Dick Vitale Rips Selection Committee for VCU, Colorado Snub

Every year, no matter how large the field is, there will always be teams that complain about being left out. This time I have to agree with Dick Vitale who made the point that VCU has no business being in the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection. We included Colorado, Virginia Tech, and Harvard as our most notable snubs, and I have no doubt they were all much more deserving than VCU, and UAB for that matter.

VCU lost to Georgia State, South Florida, and Northeastern and was 23-11. UAB at least was the best team in C-USA during the regular season and lost to fairly respectable opponents. Still, VCU, are you kidding me?

Thanks to Awful Announcing for the video

March Madness 2011 Biggest Snubs Include Colorado, Virginia Tech, Harvard

It’s amazing how even when the tournament field is expanded to include 68 teams, you still find schools complaining about not getting in. Bottom line, if you haven’t convinced people beyond a doubt to include you in a field that large then you don’t belong in the tournament. But that still won’t stop us from pointing out the teams that were the biggest snubs from the field of 68.

Colorado: The Buffs were 21-13 and 8-8 in Big 12 play. They lost non-conference games to Georgia, San Francisco, Harvard, and New Mexico, all of whom won 20 games except San Francisco which went 10-4 in conference. Colorado’s biggest claims were beating Kansas State three times and Missouri once (when the Tigers were ranked 9th). Kansas State was good enough to be a five seed. Colorado beat ‘em three times, yet they’re not in. Doesn’t make much sense.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies went 21-11 and 9-7 in the ACC and are one of just four teams to beat Duke. They lost non-conference games to Kansas St., UNLV, and Purdue, all of whom are in the dance. Their other losses came in conference play, with losses to Georgia Tech and two each to Virginia and Boston College hurting them the most. The Duke win was easily their biggest accomplishment, and their two wins over Florida State (including one on this bad call) also helped their case.

Harvard: The Crimson went 23-6 and 12-2 in the Ivy League. They lost an automatic bid on a last-second shot by Princeton that beat them 63-62 — their second loss to the Tigers. Their other losses were to George Mason, Michigan, UConn, and Yale, all of whom are tournament teams except Yale. Their notable wins were Colorado, Boston College (which finished 6th in the ACC), and Boston U. (another tourney team). Though Harvard had a good year, it seems obvious the NCAA didn’t want two Ivy League teams in the dance.

Other Notable Snubs Include Alabama, Boston College, and St. Mary’s.

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Lack of Dominant Team Leaves March Madness Wide Open

Even the most fervent college basketball fans will acknowledge that this is a down year for the sport. Of course a fantastic tournament could change all that, but aside from the exploits of The Jimmer, the play of Kemba Walker, and the overall dominance of the Big East, there aren’t too many titillating storylines across the sport. In fact, when you check the college basketball rankings, you’ll see a lot of good teams at the top, but no team will stand out as a dominant one.

Teams that can make it as a top seed in March include Duke, Ohio State, Pitt, Kansas, Texas, and possibly either BYU or San Diego State. As good as those teams may be, none of them strike me as anything near some of the best teams in recent history, nor anything near some of the best teams each of those respective schools have had.

The defending champion Blue Devils are 26-3, and their once-daunting non-conference schedule no longer is as impressive as it previously appeared. Kansas St., Butler, and Michigan St. have all turned out to be much weaker than we thought, and Duke has lost three road games recently, two to conference opponents. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith pace the Blue Devils who lost emerging star Kyrie Irving early in the season, and their one vulnerability may be size inside. Still, this team has balance and experience, two factors that should help their chances in March.

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