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The National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball schedules have been released, which can mean only one thing: March Madness is upon us again.

Late March is one of the most exciting times for a college basketball fan, as it is time for the tournament where dreams can be made and anything can happen. The NCAA tournament is entertaining to watch since it often includes many upsets and it gives people a chance to fill out brackets to see if they can determine the most correct outcomes of the games. Even though Fairfield will not be participating in the tournament, it is still worth watching if you enjoy the sport.

The tournament schedules were released last Sunday, though not without some controversy. With the release of the schedules came the disappointment of many teams that were considered on the bubble to make the tournament, as they found out that they would not be participating in the big dance. Quite a few teams were either given surprisingly low rankings (forcing them to play very good teams in the first round), or left out of the tournament altogether, much to the chagrin of their fans.

One team in particular that many feel was left out of the tournament was Southern Methodist University, which was ranked no. 25 in the top 25 rankings the week before selections were made. People were surprised that a team that finished with a 23-9 record and was ranked in the top 25 would not make a tournament in which 64 teams are initially invited. However, there are a few valid points to support that decision. SMU didn’t play a very tough schedule, as their non-conference strength of schedule was ranked at 302nd, which really hurt their chances.  Additionally, they lost games to teams with poor records, like South Florida and Temple, which makes leaving them out of the tournament understandable.

Another team that some people felt was treated unfairly is the defending national champions, Louisville.  The Cardinals finished with a respectable 29-5 record, with their only losses coming to ranked teams; however, they were still only ranked as a no. 4 seed in the tournament, despite a successful season. People feel that they had a somewhat favorable schedule (it was ranked 149th in strength of schedule), as well as played in a weak conference, but I don’t buy it.  I think that any team that faces Louisville in the tournament will have a real challenge on its hands and should not take the rankings into consideration when preparing for such a game.

It isn’t often that a team that was given a no. 1 seed has to justify getting such an honor; however, this year the undefeated Wichita State Shockers are such a team, according to some people. Though the Shockers went 34-0, many people feel that they had an easy schedule and that they will get blown out in the first game they play against a “real” opponent.  This would be embarrassing not only for the people that gave Wichita State a first seed, but also for the school and the entirety of division I men’s basketball.  For the sport’s sake, I hope they put in a good showing, though I am not so sure that they will.

Other than these three examples, I don’t have much of an issue with the rankings that teams were given. I feel that the rest were fair and that nobody should get upset over them.

Will there be many upsets this year?  Will anybody craft a perfect bracket? Nobody will know until the smoke clears. The games start March 20, so there isn’t much time left to wait.  Now that the schedule is set, all that is left to do is sit back and watch the madness unfold.

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