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Our Mythical and Historical Sites March Madness

It's not the same and if your team didn't make it in then you'll be mad giving a new meaning to March Madness, but our committee made it's decisions and our formula for survive and advance will give even the lowest of low majors a chance, maybe just a teeny one.

No dateline here because we cannot divulge the secret location that our committee met to come up with our Mythical and Historical Sites March Madness. First an explanation. The mythical is easy. There is no March Madness due to the cancellation of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament due to concerns and precautions with the outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is all mythical, but we used the NET ranking and Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings from Ken Pomeroy as our guiding light. 

All played conference tournaments and their automatic qualifiers that earned it got in. When tournaments, both of major, mid-major and low-major were not played, then we took the top seed. There are 31 automatic qualifiers and there are 33 at-large teams.   

Changes from our tournament as compared to the NCAA include no first four. The governor of Ohio didn't want it, so we won't give it to him. I'm not such a huge fan of the first four as it invited four more big school at-large teams so that some low-major conference automatic qualifiers can be eliminated before the real dance begins. I want more David vs. Goliath match-ups, not less. So, Dayton is out as a site, but the Flyers are in the tournament and a top seed. 

Historical sites: that idea was born from ESPN's Sean Farnham as the former UCLA Bruins basketball player and ESPN basketball analyst suggested last week using famous and historical sites since initially spectators were not going to be allowed. He suggested swapping the big arenas for smaller venues that have more history. I love that idea, so our tournament will use it. 

Now you want the low down and the bracket. Just like Greg Gumbel would say, "here are the top four seeds from our tournament committee."

The number one overall seed is Kansas of the Big 12. The Jayhawks, coached by Bill Self finished the season 27-3 and won the Big 12 with a conference record of 17-1. The Jayhawks are led by co-Big 12 players of the year in guard Devon Dotson and big man Udoka Azubuike. 

Udoka Azubuike has had a stellar season for the Jayhawks, the overall number one seed.

Udoka Azubuike has had a stellar season for the Jayhawks, the overall number one seed.

Our other number one seeds are Gonzaga (31-2) of the West Coast Conference and coached by Mark Few and a strong team built somewhat on transfers. Dayton (29-2), the Flyers are fantastic and without our mythical tournament would miss out on a huge opportunity they have with one of the best players in the nation in Obi Toppin (20.0) and another stellar player in point guard Jalen Crutcher (15.1). Finally, the Big 12 has two top seeds as Baylor (26-4), despite a late season swoon is the fourth of the top seeds. 

Historical sites time as we will hold the first, second, Sweet 16, and Elite Eight rounds at the same site on the same dates to keep travel to a minimum. Our mythical tournament is concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. We will keep the dates the same. The sites are all where teams can be housed over the 11-day period, the length the top eight teams will be there, and be kept safe. They will get practice times at the facilities and those facilities will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly for the safety of all participating. 

Kansas gets to play in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas gets to play in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas, as the top seed, will get the greatest of home court advantages and that regional will be played in the famed Allen Fieldhouse, where hopefully the "Phog" is the only concern and not COVID-19. 

Good old McArthur Court on the Oregon campus.

Good old McArthur Court on the Oregon campus.

Gonzaga won't have to travel far as they will play in Eugene, Oregon in McArthur Court. Yes, it is still standing despite the Oregon Ducks building a newer, larger version. The Ducks are in that region too on the bottom half, so that could provide a tough test for Few and the Bulldogs. 

Dayton is the top seed playing The Palestra.

Dayton is the top seed playing The Palestra.

Dayton won't have to travel far as they will try to play their way to the Final Four in the Palestra on the campus of University of Pennsylvania. The Palestra is one of the most historic gyms in the nation.

Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus in Dallas is a fantastic basketball site.

Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus in Dallas is a fantastic basketball site.

Finally, Baylor will drive just an hour and a half up the road to an old Southwest Conference foe and host that regional in the heart of Dallas at SMU's Moody Coliseum. 

The four regional winners will make their way on April 3 for the national semifinals on April 4 and the national championship game on April 6 to Kansas City and the building that has hosted more Final Four's than any other in the Municipal Auditorium. Now, remember that while these sites are all cozy and tight, there will be no fans in the stands, no families. The tournament, for all of the safety of players and fans, will be limited to players, coaches, team medical staff, officials, and scorer's table personnel. I wish we had television and radio for this but we don't. One single correspondent at each site will send out our game stories throughout the tournament. 

Bracket

Here is the line-up in each region. Top seed Kansas (27-3) will open with 16-seed and automatic qualifier from the Big South in Hampton (12-19). The two-seed is ACC at-large team Louisville (24-7) and they open with Horizon representative Northern Kentucky (21-9). That's interesting. 

The number three-seed is ACC automatic qualifier Florida State (26-5) and they open with Colonial representative Hofstra (25-8). The four-seed is Maryland (24-7) of the Big Ten and they play WAC champion New Mexico State (23-6). 

The rest of the Kansas Regional has five-seed Arizona (21-11), six-seed and Big Ten automatic qualifier Wisconsin (21-10), seven-seed Auburn (25-6), and eight-seed Purdue (16-15). Purdue will open with East Tennessee State (27-4) from the Southern Conference. Auburn will play Southland Champion and very dangerous Stephen F. Austin (25-3). Wisconsin takes on Big 12 at-large Oklahoma (19-12). Arizona gets Cincinnati (20-16) of the American Athletic Conference.  

Gonzaga is one of the few schools that actually completed their conference tournament and won a championship before all the cancellations.

Gonzaga is one of the few schools that actually completed their conference tournament and won a championship before all the cancellations.

Gonzaga (29-2) opens with automatic qualifier from the MEAC in North Carolina Central (15-13). The two-seed out west is Michigan State (22-9) getting in with an at-large and they face MAAC automatic Siena (20-10). The three-seed is Oregon (24-7) and playing on the home floor, kind of. The old McArthur Court is still on the campus, but not their home floor anymore. The Ducks will open with Summit Champion and more green and gold in North Dakota State (23-8). Fourth-seed BYU (23-8) will play on Thursday and Saturday to respect their faith. The Cougars will be tested by Missouri Valley Champion Bradley (22-11).

The rest of the West has fifth-seed Butler (22-9) facing Ivy League qualifier Yale (21-7). The sixth-seed is Big Ten at-large Michigan (19-12) and the Wolverines get the committee's surprise at-large in Oklahoma State (18-14) out of the Big 12. 

Isaac Likekele healthy was a difference maker for the Cowboys. With him they certainly fit in March Madness. 

Isaac Likekele healthy was a difference maker for the Cowboys. With him they certainly fit in March Madness. 

The Cowboys started 7-0 on the season and finished 8-3 in their last 11. In between they were missing or playing with an impacted from mononucleosis point guard in Isaac Likekele. This committee believes the Pokes get in. Seven-seed Marquette (18-12) opens with Mountain West qualifier Utah State (24-8). Eight-seed LSU (21-10) of the SEC will battle Iowa (20-11) of the Big Ten in a power five confrontation. 

Obi Toppin of Dayton will be tough to top in Philly at The Palestra.

Obi Toppin of Dayton will be tough to top in Philly at The Palestra.

I wish I was the correspondent for this regional at the famed Palestra. What a basketball cathedral. Dayton (29-2) opens with 16-seed Hartford (16-15), the automatic bid winner from the American East. Duke (25-6) and Mike Krzyzewski are the two-seed and they will play Boston University (20-13) of the Patriot League. Ohio State (21-10) of the Big Ten is the three-seed taking on 14-seed Eastern Washington (21-8) from the Big Sky. Finally, four-seed Seton Hall (21-9) of the Big East gets the Ohio Valley automatic qualifier in Belmont (25-7). Beware of the music school from Nashville and the 6-11 post Nick Muszynski.

Also in Philadelphia are fifth-seed Kentucky (25-6) facing MAC qualifier Akron (22-7). Those two schools aren't far from each other. Sixth-seed West Virginia (21-10) had a roller coaster season for head coach Bob Huggins and they open with Gregg Marshall and Wichita State (23-8). The seventh-seed is Rutgers (19-11) of the Big Ten and they open with Pac-12 at-large Stanford (20-12). Eighth-seed Florida (19-12) of the SEC will battle Big Ten up and comer Penn State (21-10). Lamar Stevens of the Nittany Lions has hung on and in our Mythical March Madness gets the chance to play in the NCAA and become the leading scorer in Penn State history. 

Freddie Gillespie of Baylor has been a major factor for the Bears all season long.

Freddie Gillespie of Baylor has been a major factor for the Bears all season long.

Moody Coliseum is a building that I spent a lot of time in growing up. It is a neat place to watch basketball. Baylor (26-4) will see 16-seed Robert Morris (19-14) of the Northeast Conference. The two-seed in Dallas is San Diego State (29-2) and they open with Prairie View A&M (17-13) from the SWAC. Third-seed Creighton (23-7) is the automatic qualifier from the Big East and they play another regional qualifier in Little Rock (20-10) of the Sun Belt Conference. Fourth-seed Villanova (24-7) and head coach Jay Wright face another nearby team just up the road in Denton as North Texas (18-11) is not to be treated lightly. 

The fifth seed is Houston (23-8), another former Southwest Conference school that knows the floor at Moody well. The Cougars play Atlantic Sun qualifier Liberty (28-4). Sixth-seed Texas Tech (18-13) practically makes this an old Southwest Conference reunion and they open with Providence (19-12). Colorado is the seventh-seed as an at-large from the Pac-12 and they get Virginia (23-7). Eighth-seed St. Mary's 25-8) gets their customary at-large after losing the West Coast Conference Tournament to Gonzaga. The Gaels will take on Illinois (20-10) and former SFA and Oklahoma State head coach Brad Underwood.

Tip-off begins Thursday, March 19. Follow the results and game stories right here on Pokes Report.