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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 01/11/2011

Let the countdown to Selection Sunday begin

By Eric Prisbell

Welcome back, everyone. Since we last chimed in here, a wild NCAA tournament ensued, a halfcourt heave by Butler's Gordon Hayward caromed off the backboard and rim and the NCAA expanded the men's tournament to 68 teams, forcing this blog to spray paint the 68 in there above. While further expansion may be in the cards in the future, at least we were spared a bloated 96-team field this season.

Finding 68 deserving teams - 37 at-large candidates and 31 automatic qualifiers - is going to be difficult enough. We are about at the midpoint of this season and a little more than two months away from Selection Sunday on March 13. And if this weekend was any indication, the separation among teams is quite small. The nation's top two teams, Duke and Ohio State, played tight games. And Missouri, Kentucky, Michigan State and Georgetown were among the highly regarded teams to fall over the weekend. Notre Dame lost Monday night.

Over the next two months, we'll tackle some of the hot-button issues leading up to Selection Sunday. We'll attempt to bring some clarity to the selection process as the mad scramble to improve tournament resumes picks up in the coming weeks. We'll tell you what the "First Four" is all about. We'll chronicle the mediocre march toward bids for the handful of teams that compete for the three at-large berths that are added this season.

And, of course, we'll project the 68-team tournament field each week. I finished tied for first nationally last season in projecting seedings and berths, according to The Bracket Project. I missed one team - others nailed all 65 - but I did particularly well in predicting teams within one seed of their actual seed.

We'll try to make this blog interesting to the casual fan as well as the RPI junkie. You won't hear much about national top 25 rankings. You'll hear more about the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and specifically top 50 RPI victories. And you'll hear plenty about strength of schedules (SOS), another key factor in the selection process. All RPI and SOS data can be found on guru Jerry Palm's Web site, www.collegerpi.com, which we will regularly reference here.

One topic that will hover over the rest of the season is the mediocre state of the ACC. Yes, in basketball now as well as in football. I will examine the conference later today. I may not always read comments the follow entries, so, as always, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, please email anytime at prisbelle@washpost.com and I almost certainly will get back to you. Let the bracketing begin.

By Eric Prisbell  | January 11, 2011; 8:30 AM ET
 
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Next: It is Duke and everyone else in the mediocre ACC

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