- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It’s way, way too early to try to fill out a 65-team bracket.

Here’s an attempt, anyway.

If nothing else, trying to piece together a field two months before Selection Sunday is as much playing hunches as analyzing the data at hand. Some teams have hid away in their comfortable fortresses — er, home arenas — for the first two months and have done little to prove whether they are good or mediocre (here’s looking at you, Connecticut. Others have endured rough schedules and simply don’t have the profiles of an NCAA tournament team at this point.

The resulting bracket is a mismash that includes some level of expectations (which goes a long way in explaining the inclusion of Connecticut, Washington and Marquette). Yet with conference play well underway, nearly everyone will either emerge — or submerge — in the next few weeks and it will become far easier to get a pulse on just how teams compare with each other.

The bracketing rules of the NCAA selection committee (other than “Display unbridled patriotism and grant an at-large berth to a service academy with shaky credentials”) have mostly been followed. Each automatic qualifier (for regular season purposes, a team at least tied for the fewest league losses) is denoted, and the top 16 seeds have been scattered via the pod system for the first two rounds.

EAST RUTHERFORD

Winston-Salem, N.C.

(1) ACC/North Carolina vs. (16) SWAC/Texas Southern

(8) Indiana vs. (9) Villanova

Spokane, Wash.

(4) Oregon vs. (13) SUN BELT/Western Kentucky

(5) C-USA/Memphis vs. (12) SoCON/Appalachian State

Columbus, Ohio

(3) HORIZON/Butler vs. (14) AMERICA EAST/Vermont

(6) Louisiana State vs. (11) Michigan State

Columbus, Ohio

(2) BIG 12/Kansas vs. (15) OVC/Samford

(7) Notre Dame vs. (10) Northern Iowa

SAN ANTONIO

New Orleans

(1) SEC/Florida vs. (16) ATLANTIC SUN/Belmont

(8) Marquette vs. (9) Washington

New Orleans

(4) Texas A&M; vs. (13) BIG SOUTH/Winthrop

(5) MWC/Air Force vs. (12) Virginia Tech

Chicago

(3) Ohio State vs. (14) PATRIOT/Holy Cross

(6) Maryland vs. (11) West Virginia

Sacramento, Calif.

(2) Arizona vs. (15) BIG SKY/Idaho State

(7) MVC/Missouri State vs. (10) ATLANTIC-10/Xavier

ST. LOUIS

Chicago

(1) BIG TEN/Wisconsin vs. (16) NEC/Fairleigh Dickinson-MEAC/Delaware State

(8) Arkansas vs. (9) WCC/Gonzaga

Buffalo, N.Y.

(4) Duke vs. (13) Wichita State

(5) Washington State vs. (12) Connecticut

Lexington, Ky.

(3) Alabama vs.(14) SOUTHLAND/Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi

(6) Texas vs. (11) Southern California

Buffalo, N.Y.

(2) BIG EAST/Pittsburgh vs. (15) MAAC/Marist

(7) Florida State vs. (10) CAA/Drexel

SAN JOSE

Sacramento, Calif.

(1) PAC-10/UCLA vs. (16) MID-CONTINENT/Oral Roberts

(8) Texas Tech vs. (9) Southern Illinois

Lexington, Ky.

(4) Tennessee vs. (13) MAC/Ohio

(5) WAC/Nevada vs. (12) Providence

Spokane, Wash.

(3) Oklahoma State vs. (14) BIG WEST/Long Beach State

(6) Kentucky vs. (11) Stanford

Winston-Salem, N.C.

(2) Clemson vs. (15) IVY/Pennsylvania

(7) UNLV vs. (10) Georgetown

Last four in: Wichita State, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Connecticut

Last four out: Boston College, Missouri, Georgia Tech, Purdue

Multiple bids: Big East (8), Pac-10 (7), ACC (6), SEC (6), Big 12 (5), MVC (4), Big Ten (4), MWC (2)

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