Like the names inside an Oscar envelope or the unveiling of a wedding dress, the NCAA Tournament field is one of the few anticipated revelations that remain secret until a pivotal moment.
And therein lies the reason players annually are seen on telecasts holding their breath, praying and then jumping up to dance in front of televisions when their teams are announced.
While surprises will abound as is the custom on Selection Sunday, there are some assumptions that can be made. Like some of the No. 1 seeds.
Kentucky (32-1) hung on to beat Florida in the SEC semifinals and is bound to be the overall top seed. Syracuse (31-2) can shrug off its Big East loss to Cincinnati before it begins its quest to reach the NCAA final as a No. 1 team.
North Carolina’s victory in the final seconds against North Carolina State in the ACC semifinals probably makes the Tar Heels (29-4) a safe No. 1 as well.
A few teams could make a case for the fourth top seed.
Kansas (27-6) still is considered a candidate despite losing to Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals thanks to a No. 6 RPI and No. 6 strength of schedule.
Either Michigan State or Ohio State, whichever wins today’s Big Ten tournament final, would be legitimate top picks. The Spartans’ resume is especially impressive with a No. 5 RPI, 10 victories against top-50 opponents and the nation’s top-rated strength of schedule.
Missouri (30-4) used a solid triumph over Baylor to win the Big 12 championship, which could be enough — some would say should be enough — to lock down a top spot.
Duke (27-6) had 16 turnovers in its loss to Florida State in the ACC semifinal. It probably tossed away a chance at being a top seed.
The rest of the field might not receive such five-star reviews.
This season’s prospects are considered especially weak.
Of course, that’s what everyone with a Twitter account was moaning about last season, then Virginia Commonwealth’s run turned it into a memorable tournament filled with charming storylines.
Still, the initial list doesn’t impress. While you’re getting out pens to fill out brackets, start boning up on teams like North Carolina State, South Florida and Colorado State that might be invited. To become bracket-ready, studying Iona and Drexel just in case isn’t a horrible idea.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has the last four teams in as Colorado State, Mississippi, Northwestern and South Florida, while Seton Hall, Miami, Iona and Drexel are his first four left out. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Texas, North Carolina State, Mississippi State and Seton Hall as the final four invites, while he (just barely) leaves out Washington, Drexel, Miami and Marshall.
Right now, everyone has an opinion and a case to make.
The selection committee’s much anticipated revelation tonight will end the speculation — and trigger new debates.