That sometimes obscures the fact that the action leading up to the tournament can be even better.
Hours before the selections will be announced Sunday, a wild conference tournament weekend has made the bubble very crowded — for
With 21 wins and a blowout victory over UCLA in the
As of Saturday morning, the
As of Saturday evening, ESPN projected USC as a No. 9 seed — likely occupying one of those seven final spots.
Typical for this time of year, more than seven coaches think their teams should be a lock.
On Thursday, USC Coach
Monmouth Coach King Rice has "believed that all along."
One coach stayed mum:
Should the committee take his absence into consideration?
"To pretend he's not a difference maker would be a mistake," selection committee chairman Joe Castiglione told Syracuse.com.
This season's bubble bottleneck was made possible by unusual parity. At the mid-major level, a spate of upsets means the favorites must hope for at-large invitations.
Will St. Bonaventure (22 wins) get a bid? Early-season darling Monmouth (27 wins)? Perennial contender Wichita State (24 wins)?
Parity also created some particularly dramatic conference tournament games.
And Friday produced drama the NCAA tournament would be lucky to match.
In the morning, Michigan moved into tournament consideration when little-used reserve Kameron Chatman defeated 10th-ranked Indiana on a last-second three-pointer. He was such an improbable hero that Michigan's point guard thought he was passing to a different, better-shooting teammate.
"Their hair looks the same," the point guard, Derrick Walton, explained later.
In the afternoon
In the Pac-12, both semifinal games went into overtime, too.
Buddy Hield and
Musburger was on that call, too. By then, his voice was all but gone.
There were must-see finishes in four different conferences, in just one day — and there were still championship games to play.
Many saw the craziness coming. This season has lacked a dominant team.
Six different teams have been ranked No. 1, and many teams are still in play for top seeding in an NCAA regional.
Both ACC tournament finalists,
Top-ranked Kansas is the only certainty. The Jayhawks seem destined for the No. 1 overall seed after winning the Big 12 championship Saturday.
In the Big 12's toughest season in a long time, Kansas emerged for its 12th straight regular-season title. Now, it has a tournament trophy too.
In a season of uncertainty, at least some things stay the same.