College basketball fans — the choice is yours. Fill out your bracket now if you haven’t already. Or experience angst until Thursday, when the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament starts. On Sunday, the selection committee set the field for the annual descent into March Madness.
While the tournament officially starts Tuesday with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, the first round — and where ballots start counting — is Thursday.
The four No. 1 seeds are defending champion Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas and Gonzaga.
It appears there’s a minimum of the controversy and grumbling that traditionally follows Selection Sunday. Most of the unhappiness is coming from the state of North Carolina, where the heated rivalry between Duke and North Carolina is playing out in the bracket.
Duke was given a two seed — many Blue Devil fans and basketball pundits think Duke got a bit jobbed by the committee — after all, Duke beat North Carolina two out of three times this season, including in last week’s ACC championship tournament. Duke won four games in four straight days to claim the tournament title, beating ranked teams Louisville and Notre Dame, as well as the Tar Heels.
But the squabbles should fade as Thursday approaches — this first week often captures most of the drama with early round upsets providing the madness in March Madness. And whether or not there’s more madness this time, there’s a good chance there’ll be a bevy of good, close games.
Selection Committee chairman Mark Hollis said after the bracket was revealed, “By far, I can say with 100 percent certainty that this is the most competitive bracket I’ve seen [in his five years on the committee].”
Today is Selection Monday for the women’s tournament. The 64-team bracket will feature 63 teams chasing overall No. 1 seed Connecticut, whose win streak stands at a gaudy 107 games.