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Let the madness begin

By Doug Gorman

I can't wait until Sunday. No, not because I'm going to spend most of the day at Atlanta Motor Speedway watching the Golden Corral 500.

I'm looking forward to Sunday, because that's the day the selection committee sends out the invitations to the NCAA college basketball tournament.

As I have written many times before, it's probably my favorite sports event bar none.

Like always, I will fill out my brackets, enter some on-line contests, and no doubt again show how little I know about the game of college basketball.

Still, here are some thoughts about the game of college basketball and the upcoming tournament:

The home front: Before I write about the major college tournament, let me discuss the NCAA Division II's version of the big dance. Simply put, the Clayton State Lakers received a huge injustice when the selection committee sent out its invitations and CCSU was not invited to the party.

The Lakers put together an amazing 22-7 record, and they had two huge wins in the Peach Belt Conference tournament.

A tough loss to Kennesaw, the eventual tournament champs, ended the year for the Lakers.

What is puzzling is Armstrong State, who only won 21 games and split with the Lakers received a bid to the national tournament.

Lenior-Rhyne, which at one time lost 5-of-8 games, also received an invite to the event.

I guess it just goes to show there is politics in small college basketball too.

The best league in the land: When it comes picking college basketball conferences. I love the ACC.

This year the league might have produced its best season ever.

Anybody could win on a given night as Clemson proved when it beat North Carolina, and Tech showed when it ended Duke's long home-winning streak.

Even before the committee makes its picks, I look for Duke, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech to be in the tournament field.

Tradition could help put North Carolina in the field. With good runs in the conference tournament, Maryland, Virginia and Florida State could also attend college basketball's biggest show.

All but one team, Clemson, should play in some sort of postseason event, because those ACC teams not getting into the NCAA field will play in the NIT.

Now, that says a lot about the best basketball conference in the nation.

Pencil in the Dogs: As I began writing this column, the Georgia Bulldogs were well on their way to beating Auburn in the first round of the SEC tournament.

Georgia is the definition of a bubble team, but the Dogs have made a strong argument for getting in the tournament. Two wins against Kentucky and one against Georgia Tech could help push Georgia ahead of other teams straddling the fence.

If nothing else, head coach Dennis Felton has done a great job of restoring order to a team out of control. If I had a vote, he would be SEC Coach of the Year.

Favorite tournament memory: I have loved sports for as long as I can remember, but I fell in love with the NCAA tournament in 1980. I was living in Louisville at the time, and was a huge University of Louisville fan. That season, Denny Crum led the Cardinals to the national title with a victory over the Larry Brown-coached UCLA Bruins. The very next day, I had bought a T-shirt proclaiming the Cardinals national champs. I stayed a fan of the University of Louisville even after I moved to Georgia.

(Doug Gorman is sports editor of the Daily. He can be e-mailed at dgorman@news-daily.com)