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Monday, July 12, 2010
The Bracketologist approves

By Joe Lunardi

The NCAA took the most sensible path in re-bracketing the new 68-team men's basketball championship field.

The new-look first round is not necessarily the cleanest solution -- that would simply have been a pairing of the bottom eight teams in the field as No. 16 and No. 17 seeds -- but the hybrid model of "First Four" games involving automatic qualifiers vs. automatic qualifiers and at-large selections vs. at-large selections is a fair way to recognize the importance of conference champions while at the same time adding overdue sizzle to the former opening-round games.

Really, what's not to like? Only two additional conference tournament winners (instead of eight overall) are added to the first-round mix, and -- with the last four at-large selections now identified for "First Four" matchups -- the identity of the highly speculated "Last Four In" will now be known. Bracketologists from coast-to-coast should rejoice!

Also, we all know what we'll be doing during the opening round now: watching four games that really matter. Take those games to the most historic arenas in the country, and my day will be complete!