Commentary

A week to bust the bracket

The A-10, Mountain West could boost bids for non-BCS conferences

Updated: February 15, 2010, 3:07 PM ET
By Joe Lunardi | ESPN Insider
BrooksAP Photo/Michael PerezThe Temple Owls figure to lead a quintet of teams from the A-10 into the tournament.

Every week, with the arrival of Joe Lunardi's new Bracketology, he also pens Behind the Bracket, which goes deeper into the issues within his popular seed-projecting feature.

Four weeks from now, chances are you will be holding the perfect item in sports: a new, none-of-my-teams-has-lost-yet NCAA tournament bracket. For me, the biggest question in anticipation of Selection Sunday is just how big a dent will be made in the recent hegemony of the BCS conferences.

We all know the trend: Last season, just four of 34 at-large tournament bids went to teams outside the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC. And it might have been three of 34 had Cleveland State not upset Butler in the Horizon League tournament.

Today's discussion is not about the worthiness of majors over mid-majors. That's a dead horse, at least until after the season, so let's tackle a topic in which some legitimate analysis can inform the debate: With the success of the Atlantic 10, Mountain West and others in 2009-10, just how many non-BCS schools can we realistically expect to be among the "34 best" in the next NCAA tournament field?

Joe Lunardi | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com