"Selection Sunday" is here, and here is our final projection of how we think the field will look.
Teams are grouped by projected seed. At the bottom is a breakdown by league of the number of projected bids and some information on the makeup of the field, the selection committee and the sites.
Remember that this is the first season of a 68-team field. There will be four play-in games this season: two involving teams that will be No. 16 seeds and two involving the final four at-large teams. The supposition for this exercise is the final four at-large teams will be No. 12 seeds. That's why there are six teams at the Nos. 12 and 16 seedings.
45. Virginia Tech 46. Illinois 47. Clemson
48. Georgia 49. Colorado 50. Alabama NOTE: The last few spots came down to a handful of underwhelming teams. In the end, Alabama and Colorado were the picks despite pitiful non-conference schedules. On the other hand, the Tide won their division of the SEC in a cakewalk and had four top-50 wins. The Buffs had five top-50 wins. Saint Mary's (one top-50 win), UAB (one), VCU (three) and USC (five) were our last four out. None of our projected No. 12 seeds have much of a complaint if they are left out.
51. Belmont 52. Princeton 53. Oakland 54. Long Island
55. Bucknell 56. Morehead State 57. Indiana State 58. Northern Colorado
59. Saint Peter's 60. Wofford 61. Akron 62. Boston U.
63. UNC Asheville 64. Hampton 65. UC Santa Barbara
66. Arkansas-Little Rock 67. UT San Antonio 68. Alabama State
BREAKDOWN BY LEAGUE
11: Big East
7: Big Ten
6: Big 12, SEC
3: Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Pac-10
1: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast, Western Athletic (22)
SOME NOTES ON THE MAKEUP OF THE FIELD
The NCAA uses an "S curve," meaning it ranks all 68 teams in order 1-68, then places them in regions under the theory the top No. 1 seed would have the worst No. 2 seed in its bracket, the worst No. 1 seed would have the top No. 2 seed, etc. The balancing of the regions is the most important factor in seeding the tournament.
As far as other rules go, teams from the same conference hopefully won't meet until a regional final, but the NCAA has relaxed that because some conferences have six and seven bids (it's even permissible for an intraconference matchup in the second round, though that is to be avoided whenever possible). But the first three teams selected from a given conference must be in different regions.
Higher-seeded teams should be placed as close to home as possible. No team may play on its home floor, but most sites are "neutral courts" anyway.
Teams can move up or down a spot or two in the "S-curve," maybe even a seed, to preserve other principles.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is the chairman of the 10-member NCAA Tournament Selection Committee this season. He is one of four members with a "Big Six" affiliation, joining Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, Connecticut AD Jeff Hathaway and Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman. The other six members: Utah State AD Scott Barnes, Xavier AD Mike Bobinski, Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton, Texas-San Antonio AD Lynn Hickey, UC Riverside AD Stan Morrison and SMU AD Steve Orsini. Hickey is the second woman to serve on the committee, following Charlotte AD Judy Rose (1999-2003).
March 15: Four play-in games in Dayton, Ohio
First and second rounds March 17 and 19: Denver, Tampa, Tucson, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.
March 18 and 20: Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland and Tulsa, Okla.
Regional semifinals and final March 24 and 26: Anaheim, Calif., and New Orleans.
March 25 and 27: Newark, N.J., and San Antonio
Final Four April 2 and 4: Reliant Stadium, Houston
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.