It is entirely possible that this is the last season in which the NCAA Tournament, the most perfect competition in all of sport, remains perfect: Depending on whether or not the NCAA wants to destroy something beautiful, it might have 96 teams next year. So this could be your final bracket. We hope you’ll join us in our Official The Sports Section Bracket. Join in our public league, and follow it one last time. The winner receives a free post on The Sports Section to write whatever they want, as long as it won’t get us sued, it’s not about the 2006 National League Championship Series, and it’s not in Pig Latin. Come on in.
We’ll get into a more detailed breakdown of the bracket tomorrow — one suspects you will get plenty of that tonight — but, at first glance, we note that even though Syracuse probably shouldn’t have fallen behind Duke among No. 1 seeds, Orange fans have to be pleased with how their West bracket falls. Other than the scary, déjà vu first-round matchup — against Vermont, the team that upset them in the 2005 tournament — Jim Boeheim’s troops have arguably the easiest route to the Final Four among all the No. 1 seeds. (Though Gonzaga is a tough second-round game, and some believe Duke has the easiest run.) If you can stay up late for the Sweet 16 games in Salt Lake City, it could look awfully promising for the Orange. And yes, we’re aware, we just jinxed them.
The rest of the pairings can be found at our NCAA Tournament Pool, which we remind you to join. The Northeast Conference champion, Robert Morris, earned a No. 15 seed and will play Villanova. And our Illini did not make it. We’re not ready to talk about that.
By the way, we’ll talk about this tomorrow, too, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported right as the pairings show began that the Jets have signed LaDainian Tomlinson. Which is awfully exciting.