Before we get to the teams that were invited to the NCAA Tournament, I want to spend just a minute on one that wasn't — Wichita State.
I spent a couple of hours Sunday morning trying to unlock the puzzle that cost the Shockers a bid. They were second during the regular season of the Missouri Valley Conference and second in the postseason tournament. They won 25 games, including one against Division II Arkansas-Monticello that doesn't really count.
On the surface, Wichita State is an NCAA team. But we all know that the selection committee always digs beneath the surface in these matters.
What they found with WSU was a body of work not worthy of the NCAA Tournament. That's just the way it is.
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The Shockers played too many games against irrelevant teams — Texas Southern (231 according to collegerpi.com); North Dakota State (265); Fairleigh-Dickinson (271); UMKC (282); S.C.-Upstate (309) and Alcorn State (346 of 347 Division I teams).
Even games that were supposed to help the Shockers ended up either hurting or not doing much of anything. A great example is a win against Iowa from the Big Ten. Most years, that would count for something. This year, the Hawkeyes are No. 206 in the RPI.
Only two Valley teams were in the top 75 of the RPI. And the Shockers played just two teams — Pittsburgh and Northern Iowa — above No. 67.
There was no hook for the selection committee. I imagine consideration of Wichita State didn't last long.
* Missouri, a 10 seed in the East Region, was one of the final at-large teams from power conferences to get into the field.
Are the Tigers worthy?
I made a case last week for Wichita State over Missouri, and still think the Shockers are on par with Mizzou.
But the Tigers did finish fifth in the Big 12, a game better than higher NCAA seeds Oklahoma State and Texas.
They did play NCAA teams Richmond, Vanderbilt and Old Dominion in non-conference games.
They do have wins over Kansas State and Texas.
Missouri is shaky at best, but it is a team with the kind of merit the Shockers lack.
* The committee loves Duke.
Not only are the Blue Devils the No. 3 seed overall, one spot higher than a more-deserving Syracuse, but they play in arguably the weakest region, the South, where a faltering Villanova is the No. 2 seed and Purdue, limping at the end of the season without Robbie Hummel, is a No. 4.
Baylor, a 3-seed, is legitimate. But compared to other No. 1s, including overall top seed Kansas, Duke has an easy route.
Even playing the highest seeds at every turn, Duke could reach the Final Four by beating either Arkansas-Pine Bluff or Winthrop, California, Purdue and Villanova.
Kansas, meanwhile, would have to get past Lehigh, UNLV, Maryland and Ohio State if there are no upsets of higher-seeded teams.
Syracuse, No. 1 in the West, is on a path to potentially meet Vermont, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt and Kansas State.
Kentucky, meanwhile, has what looks like the toughest road. The Wildcats might need to beat East Tennessee State, Texas, Wisconsin and West Virginia to make it to Indianapolis out of the East Region.
* Nobody fills in their brackets these days without wanting some input from me. And since I'm a giving person, I'm only glad to help.
Let's start with potential darkhorses.
In the East, I like Wofford for a potential upset of No. 4-seed Wisconsin in the first round. And I like Cornell, a 12, to beat No. 5 Temple.
In the South, Old Dominion at No. 11 is going to beat sixth-seeded Notre Dame. Trust me. No. 13 Siena is a good bet to beat up a beat-up Purdue. And I love the Richmond-Saint Mary's 7-10 first-round match-up because it at least assures that one team outside of the power conferences will get to the second round.
Midwest upsets? How about No. 13 Houston over No. 4 Maryland? Or No. 11 San Diego State over No. 6 Tennessee?
As for the West, I like No. 12 UTEP over No. 5 Butler.
* They say everybody has a story. And in the NCAA Tournament, it's true that every team has a story.
Lehigh, the first-round opponent for Kansas on Thursday in Oklahoma City, is led by freshman guard CJ McCollom, out of Canton, Ohio. McCollom averages 18.9 points per game and shoots nearly 43 percent from the three-point line. He was an outstanding high school player and stated in his online bio that he chose Lehigh because of the school's outstanding academics.
McCollom is one of those players virtually unknown outside of his league who can rise up and make a name for himself in this tournament. He'll only have the one game to do so, though.
* Here are some of the games I anticipate the most before the Elite Eight. Of course, upsets could throw a wrench into everything.
East: Kentucky-Texas, West Virginia-New Mexico.
South: Duke-Texas A&M, Villanova-Baylor.
Midwest: Kansas-Michigan State, Ohio State-Georgetown.
West: Syracuse-Vanderbilt, Kansas State-Pittsburgh.
* I probably don't need to remind you that if Kansas and Kansas State sweep through their regions, they'll meet in the national semifinals on April 3 in Indianapolis. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.