- Joe Lunardi, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Here are my quick initial thoughts on the 2012 NCAA tournament bracket:
By going South (Atlanta), Kentucky was protected from a potential Elite Eight game in the Midwest (St. Louis) against Kansas. Wonder whether the Wildcats would have traded that for the chance to avoid Connecticut in a very likely third-round matchup.
The price for "protecting" Kentucky is having North Carolina top the Midwest instead of the South, forcing both the Wildcats (by a little) and the Tar Heels (by a lot) into additional travel.
Kansas was apparently ahead of Missouri on the committee's S-curve, as the Jayhawks got a more favorable No. 2 seed than the Tigers. Either way, I am glad the committee stayed at it long enough to award Michigan State (rightfully so) the final No. 1 seed.
I thought for a moment that Colorado's relatively good seed (No. 11) might be a good sign for California or even Washington. Not so much. The Bears get an early-week trip to Dayton, and the Huskies become the first regular-season "big six" champion to miss the NCAA tournament.
I'm guessing the somewhat surprising slot for the BYU-Iona winner (No. 14, West) might have something to do with BYU's "no Sunday play" rule. Either way, it is the worst at-large seed I can ever recall.
I can totally understand the choice of Iona and applaud it. My guess is Drexel was ultimately done in, as expected, by its weak schedule-strength numbers. We might never know which team was ultimately knocked out by St. Bonaventure's winning the Atlantic 10 championship.
Overall, my favorite thing about this year's field is that -- intentionally or not -- the "Joey Brackets Rule" is in effect for the most part. There was only one (UConn) at-large selection of a team under .500 in conference play. Bravo to that.