As hoops fans nationwide take crash courses in bracketology, sixty-eight college basketball programs are preparing for the chaos and exhilaration that is the NCAA Tournament. The tourney will begin in Dayton, Ohio on March 13th and conclude with the National Championship game on April 2nd. The NCAA's decision to allow three additional teams to compete in the tourney proved to be a smashing success last year with "First Four" combatant VCU advancing all the way to the Final Four. While #1 seeds Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, and Michigan State will be heavily favored to reach New Orleans, fans and experts alike are scrambling to forecast this year's Cinderella squads.
Murray State University, an unlikely tournament dark horse, earned a #6 seed in the tournament after capping the regular season with a nearly flawless 30-1 record. The Racers have only won two games in 16 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances but Steve Prohm's team already pulled off impressive upsets this year over Memphis, Southern Miss, and St. Mary's. Other schools with Cinderella credentials include WAC tourney champs New Mexico State, Final Four-savvy VCU, and high-scoring Iona.
Projections aside, the unpredictable nature of March Madness continues to be the tourney's greatest asset. People tune in to see all the unbelievable upsets and David vs. Goliath matchups play out on the hard court. Watching unheralded teams and players who will never play a minute in the NBA shine in the spotlight is what draws the public in year after year. Expect the Big Dance to defy even the most brilliant bracketologists once again in 2012 and provide the sports world with that same on-court drama we all have come to know and love.
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