Only the 10 members of the NCAA Selection Committee know, and they’re not unveiling the tournament brackets until 6 tonight.
First, a few fundamentals about the tournament for those who don’t read the sports pages. There are 68 teams, but four first-round games Tuesday and Wednesday whittle the field down to 64 teams. Buffalo is one of eight sites across the nation hosting second- and third-round games later this week; each of those sites has eight teams.
The Buffalo “bracket” will be played out in four games Thursday, with the winners facing off in two more games Saturday.
So, of the eight teams coming here, two will survive to the next round of 16, the “Sweet 16.”
While no one’s sure who’s coming here, tournament officials don’t assign teams totally by random. They like to find teams that “travel well” to fairly accessible sites, meaning that a lot of fans would flock there. For example, Syracuse, with both its proximity and a huge alumni base throughout New York State, would travel well to Buffalo.
Hints about which teams could be coming here come from a crew of “bracketologists.” Similar to the people who conduct mock drafts for the NFL draft of college players, these bracketologists work their sources, study past history and come up with their educated guesses about which teams will play where.
Two of those crews, from ESPN and CBSSports.com, have agreed the last couple of weeks on two of the teams coming to Buffalo: Syracuse and Villanova. Their other projected teams vary widely.
But this is far from a regional tournament. For example, the last time the tournament came here, in 2010, the eight teams playing in Buffalo were geographically split, with four teams within roughly an eight-hour drive and the other four from much farther. Those teams were Syracuse, Vermont, Morgan State, West Virginia, Clemson, Florida State, Missouri and Gonzaga.
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