With the NCAA tournament action already rolling, Insider's experts weighed in on eight burning questions concerning the field selection, BYU's chances without Brandon Davies, potential wild-card teams and whether this field could provide a surprise champion like 1985. Their answers, in roundtable format, follow.
Q: There was a lot of debate over the committee's selection of UAB and VCU to the field, however in past years some pundits have clamored for more teams from outside the big six conferences. Does their non-BCS conference status make their inclusion any better?
Bilas: This was not about inclusion or class. It is about the best 37 teams after the automatic qualifiers are in. Nobody suggested that UAB or VCU couldn't win in the tournament, just that the Blazers and Rams had not distinguished themselves to go into the field in front of a six-pack of good teams. Every team should be treated the same in the selection process: fairly. The point of the process should be to get to the 37 best teams.
Gottlieb: It does. The only problem is that they chose the wrong non-BCS conference team with UAB. The idea is sound in that we, as fans and pundits, have long wondered if a mid-level major conference team is really better than a conference championship contender from a lesser league. And now a first round on a neutral site should help answer that question. Now, had St. Mary's been the mid-major selected, it would have been a better watch Tuesday night and more appropriate pick.
Lunardi: No one has lobbied longer and louder for mid-majors over the years than yours truly. The only thing I'm more passionate about is using objective performance analysis to seed and select teams. And the fact of the matter is that Colorado and Virginia Tech went a combined 9-11 against teams in the tournament and UAB and VCU went a combined 5-10. At what point does common sense enter the equation?
Q: This is the first season with the new format to accommodate 68 teams. What are you most curious to see as it plays out?