March is boxing February out of the way and making room for the favorite sporting event, for many, of the entire year. With three games left in college basketball conference play, March Madness will soon take over office chatter and computer desktops everywhere.
Fans want to know: Where will BYU land in the 2011 tournament? Is Utah State a sure thing to make the field or does the team have more to accomplish before it can rest easy? Some of those questions cannot be answered yet with Saturday's BYU vs. SDSU game and USU's contest against Idaho yet to happen.
But whatever those results, because of BYU's success and national media exposure, the 2011 edition of the annual event will likely bring more interest than ever in Utah, or at least since the Rick Majerus-led Utes made noise in the NCAA basketball tournament annually. Cougar and Aggie fans nation wide will also be emotionally invested.
Not all that long ago, selection for the field of 64 (grown this year to 68) was mostly a one-day affair for sports fans tuned into television. In the clip linked to on YouTube of the 1987 show, the broadcaster actually promises to go slowly so the audience can "write it all down". Enjoy the selection announcement music and look for TCU, BYU, Reggie Miller and games at the Special Events Center in Salt Lake City.
Tournament projections are still talked about on television but the internet has made it a process that lasts at least all basketball season if not an all-year process for the most ardent fans. What may have seemed like guesswork years ago has become a science that can be predicted with a high degree of success.
Our own Mike Sorensen, a vet reporter during all of Utah's glory years, believes the Cougars could go as high as a No. 2 seed this season if it wins out.
Is that a realistic projection? NYDailyNews.com thinks it might be just a little low. At least one of its writers think the Cougars or Aztecs could end up even higher.
An ESPN blog doesn't think that is a crazy notion at all and raises the issue of a glass ceiling for the MWC. It also quotes Dave Rose about why MWC might get less consideration.
The Selection Committee, trying to earn a little sympathy for from journalists, have been inviting a mock committee to go through the process of selecting a field in the course of a few days. It turns out the media, vocal and critical of teams that get in and teams that get left out, doesn't understand the process very well.
Another good, simplified version of the process of journalists for the public comes from the Kansas City Star.
To make a long story short, there are a number of good links to keep track of and follow between now and Selection Sunday. Here is a list of some of the very best ones for fans who can't get enough bracket prognostication. Enjoy!
Constant and updated bracket info and discussion:
Real Time RPI (ratings performance index)
2010 results with upsets at www.bracketscience.com