DAYTON, OH - MARCH 16: Ed Nixon #50 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams drives with the ball against Nikola Vucevic #5 of the USC Trojans during the first round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at UD Arena on March 16, 2011 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

NCAA Championship Game 2011: UConn Huskies Top Butler Bulldogs For Title

A Final Four comprised of Butler, VCU, Kentucky, and UConn. Who picked that?

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NCAA Championship Game 2011 Odds: UConn Favored Vs. Butler In Early Betting

This shouldn’t come as a shock to people who enjoy the anybody-can-win spectacle of the NCAA Tournament, but there’s a second piece to being beloved 2011 NCAA Championship Game underdogs—the matter of being picked to lose to the other team. In early betting action the odds have UConn favored by 3.5 points, which would be strangely low if the NCAA Tournament weren’t so strangely close all the time.

The line has already moved from its initial position, which had the Connecticut Huskies on top of the Bulldogs by four points; apparently betters love the underdog so far just as much as the average casual tournament fan.

For what it’s worth, The UConn Blog is, at this very moment, one of the most confident SB Nation blogs in the universe, with a confidence poll that hovers around 90 of late. That’s what happens when you’re in the presence of Kemba Walker and the Kemba Walker Philharmonic, and while I’m sure they’d demure if asked directly, they would probably also be happy to bet UConn to win by more than four points.


VCU Vs. Butler Score: Butler Defeats VCU, Reaches NCAA Championship Game

The VCU Rams racked up a high score of low-seed casualties through the 2011 NCAA Tournament, but it was No. 8 Butler who was finally able to knock out the giant-killers, dispatching No. 11 VCU by a score of 70-62. It was much closer than all that; VCU was within four before falling behind for good and, backs against the wall, playing the joyless intentional-foul game for the rest of the night. Jamie Skeen led VCU with 27 points and six rebounds in the loss. For the winners, Shelvin Mack had 23 points and six rebounds, including a crucial five point run to put the Bulldogs ahead for good in the second half.

Butler advances to the NCAA Championship Game, where they’ll play the winner of the upcoming UConn-Kentucky overdog bracket. It’s Butler’s second consecutive trip to the national championship, having lost to Duke as a No. 4 seed in the 2010 championship after advancing as a much less implausible underdog through that tournament.


Final Four Game Times: VCU Vs. Butler Calls Right At Dinnertime

Dear Final Four: Game Times are, admittedly, a touchy subject. Nobody wants to move theirs for somebody else; nobody wants to go first or last if there’s some perceived slight there. But 5:00 CDT, sirs? Calling at this hour is simply unconscionable. VCU vs. Butler may be the finest upset special in years, but that’s no excuse to interrupt our family time with your, your dribbling and your esoteric seeding practices.

Champ, pass the broccoli. Thank you. What bothers me about this—no, I will tell him, dear, I must—is that you won’t be done afterward. After monopolizing our conversation like that for hours, and this on the day Sophie was bumped up to accelerated reading, weren’t you, you’ll just start up the Kentucky vs. UConn game at 7:49. Now, I realize we’re just flyover country to you people, but here in flyover country we have a certain reverence for polite, family conversation around the dinner table. Perhaps that’s something they oughtn’t fly over at all, right dear?

So if you’ll excuse me, Champ, here, has some things to tell us about his algebra class. Go on, Champ, floor is yours. I’ll show you to the door, 2011 NCAA Tournament. Or can you see yourself out?


2011 NCAA Tournament: VCU's Shaka Smart(?) Theme Song

Of all the things the internet has done for sports coverage, this is perhaps the most vital: It's led to an exponential increase in short-term, YouTube-hosted novelty songs. For the 2011 NCAA Tournament: This VCU Rams-related ditty, a "Hooked on a Feeling"-inspired number called "Shaka's Got 'Em Believing." It's very Shaka, but I'll have you judge for yourself as to just how smart you give it credit for being—

Ooga Shaka, indeed. I've got to admit—the production values are pretty strong all the way through. (No surprise: It's a production, apparently, of "The World's Greatest 70's Show Band.")  I can't wait for their version of "Dirty Diana" when some team offers Shaka Smart Mike Anderson money to get taken for granted at a much larger institution. Do they have anything in jilted-lover parodies with a rhyme scheme that fits "Matt Painter"? 

In the meantime, VCU fans are left to ponder what other songs they can fit their coach and folk hero's name into. My guess is that it gets much more difficult from here. 


NCAA Tournament 2011: VCU Rams America's Final Four Team

Anybody even remotely categorizable as an underdog come 2011 NCAA Tournament time was bound to earn casual-fan plaudits if they got as far as the Final Four—consider Gonzaga's continued stint as ostensible underdogs, even now—but the VCU Rams, starting as a First Four play-in team and moving within a game of the 2011 National Championship, have everything going for them. Like George Mason before them, they're officially America's Team. Which is a lot of pressure to shoulder, for a team with no pressure. 

The Post-Dispatch has a nice story on the subject; rather than play to that pressure-cooking public applause they get a bunch of name coaches, including SLU's Rick Majerus, to say that, hey, the Virginia Commonwealth Rams are a pretty good team, after all. 

All things considered I'd rather by an underdog than an overdog, such as it is—it's never fun to be rooted against at no fault of your own, aside from your own excellence—but at this moment it has to be at least a little difficult being a VCU basketball player. 


NCAA Bracket Update: Final Four Split Among Haves, Have-Nows

The Final Four bracket couldn't possibly have worked out better than it did for NCAA Tournament watchers—we're now officially guaranteed to see a serious underdog team, Butler or VCU, come into contact with a team that has an impeccable March Madness tradition, UConn or Kentucky. (For a constantly updated 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket, click those red words to my cursor's left.)

If you're currently working on a spec script entitled Hoosiers: The College Years, now is your chance to stop writing that juicy Bob Golic part and begin lightly fictionalizing the incredible turns of event in a tournament that began with a notably unwanted bracket addition in the First Four. People literally didn't think the VCU Rams belonged in the tournament! Does it get any better than that?

FADE IN ON nobody believing in Cirginia Vommonwealth University's Goats. FADE OUT as Bob Golic hoists that championship trophy high, saying, "They never believed in us! But we believed in us!" Congratulations: You've successfully written a sports movie, albeit one a little more ripped-from-the-headlines than usual. 


Kentucky Tops North Carolina For Final Four Berth Vs. UConn

The Kentucky Wildcats, a fourth seed, would be a minor upset in last year's NCAA Tournament, but 2011 March Madness plays by different rules: They'll be playing against UConn in the 2011 Final Four for the chance to be the hated team going up against last year's famous four-seed, the Butler Bulldogs, or the 11-seed VCU Rams.That's their reward for beating the No. 2-seed UNC Tar Heels, the last high seed in the Elite Eight, 76-69. Brandon Knight scored 22 across all 40 minutes of Kentucky basketball to lead the way; remarkably efficient Tyler Zeller scored 21 on 12 shots to lead the Tar Heels. 

Kentucky, now 29-8, was 10-6 in this year's SEC conference play. North Carolina finishes the season 29-8 with a 14-2 ACC record. 

The mid-major side of the Final Four is a 64-team tournament first—it hasn't happened since Larry Bird took Indiana State to the Final Four along with Pennsylvania. Kentucky and UConn have a chance to finish off their NCAA Tournament schedule with a win, but they don't have a chance, alas, to do it as the People's Champion. 


UConn Vs. Arizona: Kemba Walker Scores 20, Connecticut Reaches Final Four

Connecticut became the second team to reach the FInal Four bracket Saturday night, topping the Arizona Wildcats 65-63 in Elite Eight action. Star guard Kemba Walker scored 20 points and added seven assists and four rebounds to pace the Huskies, while freshman Jeremy Lamb picked up 19 with two steals. Jesse Perry and Derrick Williams were strong for the Wildcats in a losing effort, putting up 14 points and seven rebounds and 20 points and five, respectively. (For an updated NCAA Tournament Bracket reflecting the first half of Elite Eight action, click here.) 

UConn, who beat No. 2 San Diego State to reach the Elite Eight, will face the winner of tomorrow's UNC vs. Kentucky game in the FInal Four. The Butler Bulldogs were Saturday's other Final Four entrant, upsetting Florida 74-71 in their own Elite Eight contest; they'll face the winner of No. 1 Kansas's Sunday game against No. 11 VCU. 

The Final Four begins April 2; the winner of those two games will play in the national championship on April 4. Follow along here at SB Nation St. Louis or at SB Nation's NCAA basketball hub


Sweet 16: Butler Beats Wisconsin To Return To Elite Eight

The Butler Bulldogs continued making NCAA bracket mince-meat Thursday night, topping Wisconsin 61-54 to continue their march from the eighth seed toward a second consecutive Elite Eight berth. The Badgers fought back after Butler went on a 12-3 run to open the second half, nearly erasing a 20-point lead, but Butler held on in the closing minutes to advance to another chance at an NCAA tournament upset, against No. 2-seeded Florida. 

Butler continues to scrape by in a series of stereotypical March Madness nail-biters, which isn't exactly the way to convince the powers-that-watch that you're for real, but it makes for excellent TV, and that 20-point-lead just mustn't have been Butler enough for their tastes. (They'll have to lecture Arizona about it.) 

Matt Howard led Butler with 20 points, including nine free throws, and 12 rebounds. Wisconsin shot just 17-56 from the field, with Jordan Taylor leading the team with 22 points on 6-19 shooting. Jon Leuer, who averaged 18.7 points per game for Wisconsin in the regular season, was just 1-12. 


2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Printable Bracket Transgressive Art

With the winnowing of the NCAA Tournament field to those Sweet 16, odds are relatively good that your March Madness bracket has officially become useless as a money-making enterprise. And if that's the case it's certainly lost any positive it's-Tournament-season vibes it was throwing off in late February. With that in mind, and given the nation's serious paper-art shortage after that fire at the National Museum of Napkin Origami and Straw-Wrapper Projectiles, I'd like to offer a few suggestions about turning your own failed NCAA bracket into a piece of inscrutable transgressive art. (If you don't have your own 2011 NCAA Tournament Printable Bracket, follow along on that one! Feel free to write your own incorrect picks for the Elite Eight and the Final Four into the margins before we begin; I like Pitt, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Texas, personally.)

1. Connect religion to something you dislike in a provocative way. Write the names of your 64 least favorite religions into the blanks of your bracket. The First Four teams are famine, pestilence, war, MTV Skins, and whatever else you're implicitly blaming on those religions. The 16 seeds are, say, Native Traditions. In the National Championship spot, write Hate!! or MTV scripted programming!! When you've finished framing your bracket, consider urinating on it. 

2. When in doubt, get sociopolitical. Right now Kansas's Sweet 16 contest against Richmond is just a reminder that you thought it would be a great idea to be the guy who picked Louisville to come out of the Southwest bracket. But a sly, un-pin-downable sociopolitical assertion is a great way to turn the discussion from your dumb picks to Foucault's conception of power dynamics throughout history. 

Bonus: The ketchup you spilled on your bracket while you watched the First Four at Buffalo Wild Wings looks a lot like dried blood! 

Consider binding your printable NCAA Tournament bracket into an austere, hardcover book called THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, with the blood-ketchup spilling haphazardly over the word "history." Then consider urinating on it. 

3. If you're short on time, just use the National Championship game. Fold your printable bracket in half and, with an adult's help, cut carefully around the Final Four with a fun pair of scissors. Out of the Southwest bracket, write in "The People!"; out of the East bracket, write "Big business!", or "Cynical Teen-Sex Dramas!" In the winner space, write in "Never us!" A glue stick and some construction paper will really brighten up even the worst failed bracket or indictment of the military-pornographic complex. 

These are just three options; in the world of transgressive art, your future is limited only by how much you've had to drink in the last four hours. When someone wins your pool, and takes the cash prize, consider urinating on it. 


College Basketball Invitational: Quarterfinals Start Today On HDNet

The College Basketball Invitational is no NCAA Tournament—or NIT, for that matter—but its quarterfinals round begins today, and the TV schedule shows Davidson at Creighton and Duquesne at Oregon on HDNet if you're deep in the throes of basketball tournament withdrawal. March Madness, after a fashion, found as follows:

The quarterfinals kick off with Rhode Island at the University of Central Florida at 6 PM, but that won't be televised; at 7 PM, on HDNet, you'll find Davidson taking on Creighton. The Missouri Valley Conference's own Evansville plays Boise State in Idaho at 8 PM, and the HDNet schedule closes at 9 PM when Duquense takes on Oregon at Eugene. 

Last year's CBI champion was VCU, who beat out St. Louis University to take the title. The tournament began in 2008; each year it invites 16 teams who weren't selected for the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. The University of Northern Iowa, former back-to-back MVC champions, were recently eliminated in the Postseason Tournament, a competing sub-NIT tournament. 


NIT Basketball: Missouri State Falls To Miami Hurricanes In Second Round

The Missouri State Bears weren't able to make lemons out of NCAA Tournament Snub lemonade Monday—they lost 81-72 to the Miami Hurricanes in the second round of the NIT, struggling to the gate on their way to a 55-40 second half deficit. Adam Leonard scored 26 in the loss, with Kyle Weems struggling from the field on the way to 18 of his own. Durand Scott led the way for Miami, with 20 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Adrian Thomas's 14 points in the first five minutes of the second half led the way to the Hurricanes' comeback; a late Missouri State rally wasn't enough. 

No. 1 seed Alabama holds a commanding lead over New Mexico in another of tonight's games; the winner will play Miami, with the winner of that game going to the NIT semifinals in New York. 

Missouri State's loss to Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Tournament finals kept them out of March Madness proper; after one win in the NIT they've reached the end of a season that wasn't quite as successful as it could have been. 


George Mason Basketball Continues To Be Cinderella Against Its Will

George Mason’s wild win over Villanova in the newly has prompted no shortage of NCAA Tournament excitement in 2011’s second-ish round of 64, which leads directly to the Patriots’ inevitable re-christening as a cinderella team and their equally inevitable rejection of that term. Mike Lopresti has a perfectly cromulent summary of the phenomenon, which is at its strangest this year considering GMU was the eight-seed in their close victory over Villanova. The 2006 team is impossible to avoid, even when you’re the top seed in your first game and require a strong second half to pull away with it.

I can understand George Mason’s predicament, and they have my sympathy. But it seems like some teams just never shake the underdog label, no matter how many games they win; Gonzaga might as well change its team nickname to the Gonzaga Underdog-Bandwagons, at this point. So perhaps another few years of solid performance will allow “this year’s George Mason” to shake the label 2006’s George Mason applied so stickily, but it’s tough to get all that glue residue off without digging your fingernails into it.


NCAA Bracket Predictions: Norm MacDonald's Sudden Realization (VIDEO)

Prolific and startlingly great Tweeter Norm MacDonald (samples: "Its not a true paradox. More a winsome way of viewing quantum entaglement."; "If you are competing with another gent for the same girl and he plays the lute and you dont you are in serious trouble."), who's spent most of his Twitter life contemplating a short story; discussing math and history; and, you guessed it, not talking about Frank Stallone, recently posted a video about his NCAA Tournament picks in which he showed off the end of his bracket. 

In the video, which reveals that his Elite 8 is seven-eighths top seeds, he talks about what led him to this entirely unsurprising conclusion. "This guy fed all this information into a giant computer, and he's supposed to be some smart guy... I'm beginning to sense that the people who seeded [the tournament] also probably put it through a giant computer. So his information, their information, probably overlaps drastically, so I have a lot of favorites... I have pretty good faith in it, it came from a computer."

As a rule, picking all top seeds is likely to leave you with fewer friends in your office pool than you started with, but I still highly recommend following him on Twitter.


March Madness Bracket Update: Missouri Bows Out Vs. Cincinnati

Depressing though it may be, Missouri's exit from the NCAA Tournament comes on our day-one March Madness bracket update; their exit against sixth-seed Cincinnati by a score of 78-63 leaves the state without a standard-bearer, unless you're willing to adopt the Missouri Valley Conference champs, Indiana State, for tomorrow's slate of games. The good news, for people who like other teams' bad news: Cincinnati gets Kemba Walker and UConn on Saturday. Morehead State's startling win over Louisville is just one of a number of (usually more predictable) NCAA basketball scores in today's NCAA bracket update. Get your pencils and heretofore-blank brackets ready:

In typically brutal 1-16 action, Pitt crushed UNC-Asheville 74-51, which should finally teach those 16th seeds to stay away from the schoolyard after dark; number-two San Diego State clocked Northern Colorado 68-50 with a strong second half, and Florida topped their own 15th seed, UC Santa Barbara, 79-51; third-seed BYU renewed the Jimmer Fredette show for another season by staving off Wofford 74-66, and #3 UConn hammered Bucknell 81-52. 

Then, an upset! Louisville fell 62-61 to Morehead State, because we definitely didn't get enough of the Morehead State puns in the first round. Fellow fourth seeds Wisconsin—72-58 over Belmont—and Kentucky—narrowly getting past Princeton, 59-57—will definitely let them hear about it at the reunion. Just one fifth seed, Vanderbilt, found themselves locked in that position's usual existential angst; they fell 69-66 to Richmond, while West Virginia beat Clemson 84-76 and Kansas State stopped Utah 73-68. 

As for the lower-seeded games.. I don't want to talk about it. The Missouri wounds are a little too fresh. For all the latest scores, and all the ones I'm not emotionally ready to discuss, check


Obama Bracket: President Tough On NCAA Tournament's Poor, Hannity Just Tough

Proving that it's impossible for the president of the United States to do anything without causing an enormous, asinine political firestorm, Barack Obama's bracket was released yesterday on ESPN, opening up room for amateur firebrands everywhere to voice their opinions. Missouri fans will be disappointed primarily in Obama's reluctance to offer any NCAA Tournament welfare; the president chose just one low seed on our side of the bracket, picking No. 11 seed Marquette over Xavier.

The ensuing reaction was hysterical in the traditional sense of the word. My personal favorite: Sean Hannity decrying Obama's ability to fill out a bracket in the midst of global turmoil. I've never been invited to the Fox News NCAA bracket pool, so I don't know if he usually fills one out himself, but to Mr. Hannity I offer the following expert analysis: This is the kind of bracket you fill out in five minutes before lunch, when people are hounding you to do it. A few local upsets, a lot of high seeds beating low seeds, a promise to send in your $10 eventually, geez, get off my back about it. 

Libya and Japan are probably taking up a lot of the president's time these days, but this is not the bracket of a die-hard Bracketology follower or even a guy who thought about each pick. If you're able to get indignant about it, you'd have found some way to get indignant about his failing to fill out a bracket, too. How, after all, can the president of the United States understand real America if he won't even participate in our favorite March pastime? I'm beginning to think he wasn't even born into a stereotypical office environment...


NCAA Tournament Schedule: truTV First Four Conclude Tonight

As the 2011 NCAA Tournament schedule rolls on into its second day it's my sincere hope that fans have found out, by now, where truTV could possibly be in their cable guides. (Look around the other channels you've never watched before, and never plan on watching again.) Tonight the First Four concludes as UT-San Antonio and Alabama State, who has the lowest NCAA Tournament odds of any team in the field, play at 5:30 for the last 16-seed in the round of 64. At the 8:10 spot you'll find USC and VCU competing for an inexplicably play-in-enabled 11th seed, which seems like a strange competition to have unless you're the NCAA. 

After the First Four ends your TV schedule gets significantly more complex and infinitely more rewarding as the NCAA Basketball Tournament for 2011 begins in earnest. I helped a number of people find truTV on their digital cable this afternoon, and for them, if not the NCAA, it is immediately apparent to me that no matter what the tournament insists, it begins when it becomes incredibly difficult to follow all the games at once. 


NIT Basketball: Missouri State Tops Murray State In First Round

MIssouri State shook off its NCAA Tournament snub with aplomb in the first round of the NIT, topping sixth-seed Murray State by a score of 89-76 to move on to the second round of what is known, outside waggish circles, as the National Invitation Tournament. Jermaine Mallett picked up 23 impressively efficient points and six rebounds to pace the Bears, who won the regular-season title in the Missouri Valley Conference but nevertheless found themselves on the wrong side of the March Madness bubble. 

Missouri State, the third seed in the tournament's Region 1, will take on the winner of tonight's contest between Miami and Florida Atlantic University in the second round of the tournament. Their local number-one seed, Alabama, won a blowout in their own first round game, battering Coastal Carolina by a score of 68-44. With two three-seeds of four being upset in the first round of NIT games—Colorado State fell to Fairfield, and the College of Charleston knocked out Dayton—the Bears have at least avoided one pitfall on the way to consolation tournament glory. 


NCAA Bracket Blank Proves First Four Lack March Madness Credentials

If you believe the NCAA, March Madness began with yesterday's First Four contests and continues through today's completion of the NCAA Tournament's new first round. But the thousands of companies who hand out NCAA Bracket blanks and the millions of people who fill them out every year seem to have a different idea—even Yahoo! won't close its tournament pick-em contest for another day. The NCAA can call it the first round all it wants, but for the people who it seeks to convert it looks like they've just added a bunch of play-in games. 

UNC-Asheville's overtime win against Arkansas-Little Rock was exciting, but even great basketball failed to supplement all the truTV hyping and tournament-renaming enough to make the First Four into a March Madness staple in its first year of existence. There's still time, but right now it seems like fans are just too wedded to the existing tournament structure to deal with the changes. There's something so much grander about the flurry of round-of-64 basketball that has recently kicked off the tournament; if the NCAA knows what it's doing they'd be wise not to futz with something that works so well. 


NCAA Tournament Schedule: First Four On truTV

The NCAA Tournament schedule has gotten much tougher to follow, between the NCAA instituting its impressively arbitrary First Four round and the TV schedule fragmenting among four separate networks, but I've made it my goal to read through it so you don't have to. The First Four start today, at 5:30, on truTV, the artist formerly known as Court TV. That's when North Carolina-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock meet up for the chance to win a 16th seed in a relatively traditional play-in game. Tradition is thrown to the wolves at 8:00, when Clemson and UAB compete for a 12th seed. 

On Wednesday Texas-San Antonio and Alabama State are your 16th-seed competitors at 5:30; Virginia Commonwealth and USC play the 8:00 game. After that the meat of the NCAA Tournament begins, and people who look to truTV for weirdly gleeful courtroom and true-crime drama-documentaries will be out of luck for most of March. 

Missouri State fans: be advised that their NIT contest against Murray State will take place at 7:00; it's televised on, if you have the right cable or satellite provider. (It's still televised at ESPN3 if you don't have the right cable or satellite provider, it's just less enjoyable for you.)


March Madness Predictions: Kansas On NBA Jam Edition

March Madness predictions are, at times, a weirdly totemic, arcane business. People make predictions based on the feel and design of the NCAA Bracket they printed out; they pick teams based on animal names or the way one number (strong, solid 12!) feels against another; they choose based on a mass of subconscious tics they only half-understand. But as far as arcane prediction methods go, I don't think you can improve on this March Madness prediction—via NBA Jam. The Kansas Jayhawks are the Charlotte Hornets, which would be bad news only if you had hot-spots on, or if you didn't want KU to move to New Orleans.

More facts to be gleaned from this set of power rankings: Kemba Walker, like Reggie Miller, has a super-high clutch rating; Kentucky, like the Phoenix Suns, can shoot the three-pointer no matter who racked up the most injury-points in the third quarter; and nobody, I mean nobody, played as the Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA Jam: TE except for me. If you want to extrapolate even more from these, an NCAA bracket prediction begins to develop—if you have Syracuse going deep, watch out when teams begin to elbow Terry Porter early and often. He loses his shooting touch once he's in the red. 


2011 NCAA Printable Bracket: SB Nation's Gift To You

NCAA Bracket 2012 is here.

With the NCAA Tournament just about to begin I'd be a little surprised if you didn't already have 10-20 2011 NCAA printable brackets staring you in the face, but SB Nation is excited to be your blank bracket provider of last resort—we have this handsome edition available for immediate downloading, printing, and defacing. As a bonus, this annotated March Madness bracket will also serve as a reminder of just how many college sports blogs we've launched in the last few years.

For those of you turning your last-minute bracket in, I have one suggestion—be That Guy. Pick all the higher-seeded teams to beat all the lower-seeded teams in every round, all the way to Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, and Pitt meeting in the Final Four. This is the March Madness Blandness strategy, and nobody has ever been embarrassed by choosing it. And the poor sportsmanship angle is a great mask for your real status as an NCAA bracket novice. It's like bidding $2 on The Price Is Right after the guy to your left just bid $1. That is: It's awesome.


NCAA Tournament Bracket: Missouri State Basketball's Bubble Bursts

Missouri State basketball's status in on the bubble was seriously in doubt the moment they lost to the Indiana State Sycamores in the Missouri Valley Tournament finals—they were one of Joe Lunardi's last four out for the rest of bracketology season—but Selection Sunday's big NCAA Tournament bracket revealed what Bears fans had worried about all along: The MVC regular-season champs weren't among the 37 at-large bids revealed, and will be left to fill out 2011 NCAA brackets from the outside looking in. Indiana State will represent the MVC as a 14th seed, set to take on Syracuse. 

Missouri State was 15-3 in conference play to seal the regular season title in the Missouri Valley Conference, but Kyle Weems and company couldn't outshoot a dogged Sycamores team in a low-scoring MVC final, and a 25-8 record wasn't enough to counteract the NCAA selection committee's long-suspected antipathy toward (or indifference to) mid-major teams. Formerly known as Southwest Missouri State, the Bears last reached the NCAA basketball tournament in 1999, when they lost in the Sweet 16 to Duke. 

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