CardsLove, Bracket Racket, Seeding Bleating: Basketballmanac, 1st Tuesday

Tip off’s tonight. Have you figured out how to find TruTV on your dial?

Have you logged it in on your box as a Favorite Channel?

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Other than figuring out whether to pick Michigan or Tennessee on your Office Pool Bracket, the major quandary in these parts — at least for those who bleed red not blue — is how far this lovable edition of the Cardinals can go in the Dance?

I noted in a blog the other day how very predictable the season became, almost as if The Rick’s win-2-of-every-3 psychology became some sort of divine mandate. After running off a bunch of meaningless Ws against rummies to start the season, U of L beat tourney-bound UNLV. Which began a 27 game — nine 3-game sets — pattern.

In each three game set, U of L won 2, lost 1.

If the pattern is to continue, it means a Louisville victory over Morehead State — Shouldn’t the Cards be playing somebody else? — and another over Vandy or Richmond’s Spiders.

Which, in the words of my pal Bruce means, “We get another weekend.” But, if the pattern holds, it would also mean a loss to Kansas or one of the pretenders from that pod in the Round of 16.

What fascinates me is all the love Louisville is getting across the land. My bride’s boyfriend, Jay Bilas, and fellow ESPNer Fran Fraschilla, have both picked Louisville as their sleeper Final Four team. So too some fella at cbssportsline.com, whose name I forget.

The TV pundits have also been most kind about Louisville’s chances.

I, of course, loving this Louisville team as I do, don’t see any way it can fulfill my aspirations. As the recent UConn and West Virginia games have proven, Louisville’s success is predicated on a delicate balance. There is no transcendent Kemba Walker, Jacob Pullen or Tu Holloway. There’s no you-know-he’s-gonna-get-the-board guy.

They do have players who give their all. But it’s rarely all of them at the same time. That’s what you gotta have to advance from now on.

It’s comforting to know that so many objective observers believe Louisville has it in them. Now let’s see if they do.

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I’m warming to the women’s game. It’s a different beast than the men’s, in some ways, purer.

And I sure wish Jeff Walz and his Cardinals well against Vandy and beyond.

But I’ll reiterate what I say every year. The women’s tournament must disallow schools from playing on their home courts. It’s a travesty, just as it was when still a factor on the men’s side. I understand the economics. Popular teams draw bigger crowds.

It’s still a joke. And must be stopped if the women’s tourney is to gain legit credibility.

A little more parity wouldn’t hurt either. I know I’m not the only one tired of hearing about UConn and Tennessee.

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There’s been more carping this year than ever before about the deeds of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. For good reason. They messed up a lot, displaying an egregious lack of basketball acumen.

Allow me to repeat my long held theory on why this happens way more often than it should.

The committee does its work in a windowless, obviously oxygen-depleted room. They’re in there for 6 consecutive days, suffering from light deprivation and pizza toxicity.

By Saturday, they are worn out and frazzled, in need of fresh air and exercise and vegetables. The 500 tab bottle of Motrin is empty. So dazed and confused are they that UAB is looking like Scarlett Johansson, and Seth Greenberg’s bleatings from outside the room are simply white noise.

Yes, the seeding sucks this year. Yes, a couple of schools who should be in, aren’t. (But not, Virginia Tech.) Get over it. It’s part of the Madness that is March.

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Here’s another of my annual reminders. There are other post season tournaments — that’s right, plural — besides the NCAA, and the Seth Greenberg Invitational, more popularly known as the NIT.

There’s the CollegeInsider.com affair, which actually tipped off last night as Buffalo beat Quinnipiac by 7.

Here’s a list of other first round tussles for ye legitimately addled hoopaholics who will actually pay attention: Ohio (18-15) @ Marshall (22-11), Furman (22-10) @ East Tennessee State (22-11), Jacksonville (19-11) @ East Carolina (18-15), Rider (23-10) @ Northern Iowa (19-13), North Dakota (19-14) @ Air Force (15-15), Northern Arizona (19-12) @ Santa Clara (19-14) , Portland (20-11) @ Hawaii (18-12), Tennessee Tech (20-12) @ Western Michigan (20-12), Iona (22-11) @ Valparaiso (23-11), Oral Roberts (19-15) @ SMU (17-14), and, last but not least, Idaho (18-13) @ San Francisco (17-14).

The catch with this 24 team tourney is that, after the first round, four teams get byes for a round. Cockamamie.

But, as we teased above, th tha that’s not all, folks.

There’s also the Zebra Pen College Basketball Invitational. (I must ask. Poulan Weedeater was not inclined to sponsor this august event?)

The opening round lineup: James Madison @ Davidson, San Jose St @ Creighton, Duquesne @ Montana, Weber State @ Oregon, Austin Peay @ Boise St (Do they play on a blue court?), Hofstra @ Evansville (the closest location, should you be inclined to journey to a game), Miami (Ohio) at Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure @ Central Florida.

The Zebra Pen CBI does have a unique feature. The championship is best 2 of 3. Gotta love it.

All of which means, there are a whole lot of schools still playing. 68 in the Big Dance. 32 in the Seth Greenberg Invitational. 24 in the CollegeInsider.com Invitational and 16 in the Zebra Pen College Basketball Invitational.

In case your abacus isn’t handy, that means 140 schools made it to the post season. Not quite as many as in college football, but almost.

– Seedy K

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