In this most maddening month, when a high RPI can spell R.I.P.
at the hands of a Cinderella, SI and CNNSI.com are teaming up to
help you dive into your NCAA tournament office pool. On March 12
(a.k.a. Selection Sunday) CNNSI.com will provide empty brackets
that you can print out before the selections are announced at
6:30 p.m. EST so you can fill in the matchups as the tournament
committee unveils the 64-team field. SI's INSIDE COLLEGE
Basketball columnist Seth Davis will break down the brackets on
the Web after the pairings are revealed, and beginning at eight,
you'll be able to chat live with another of our college
basketball cognoscenti, senior writer Tim Crothers.
The madness continues the following day, Monday, March 13, when
CNNSI.com will post SI's detailed scouting reports on every team
in the tournament, giving you plenty of time to consult them
before filling out your draw sheets. The reports will analyze
each team's strengths and weaknesses and tell you which players
to watch. The capsules will reside on team pages, which will
also feature news and notes, rosters and statistics. Is a Golden
Hurricane stronger than a Red Storm? How bedeviling is the Blue
Devils' draw? With access to the combined resources of SI and
CNNSI.com, you'll need only to point and click to get a leg up
on the competition.
In the weeks that follow, the expanded cyber coverage will
augment the magazine's pages upon pages of previews, tournament
action, photos and analysis, culminating with SI's extensive
coverage of the Final Four and the national championship game.
"As we did last year, we'll be blanketing the entire tournament
as it happens--in the magazine and on the Web," says CNNSI.com
managing editor Steve Robinson. "But now we're extending even
more of SI's analysis instantly to the Web site."
This year's NCAA tournament marks the return of SI's Homer of
the Hardwood, Alexander Wolff, who has spent the last 15 months
on a globetrotting odyssey, researching and writing a book on
worldwide basketball that will be published by Warner Books
early next year. "It says a lot about Alex's passion for the
game," says college basketball editor Greg Kelly, "that after
years of traveling around the world to write about basketball,
he would take a break from his job to travel around the world to
write about basketball."
Alex won't be a lone wolf in our pages or on the Web. SI staff
writer Grant Wahl joins Wolff, Crothers, Davis and
writer-reporter B.J. Schecter to form our own Fab Five. Each SI
expert will fill out a complete draw for the Web site and file
cyber "Postcards from Courtside" throughout the tournament,
providing thoughts on sleepers, squeakers and anything else
involving screeching sneakers. CNNSI.com's "Day at a Glance"
feature will keep you abreast of each day's story lines. There
will also be a continuously updated scoreboard for games in
progress, as well as a gallery of photos. You'll even be able to
compare future matchups with a statistical database that allows
you to pit any two teams against each other.
So rest easy as you wrestle with your brackets next week. From
Salt Lake City to Syracuse to the Final Four in Indianapolis,
we'll be with you every dribble of the way.
Bill Colson, Managing Editor
COLOR PHOTO: HEINZ KLUETMEIER WEB WIZARDS In print and in cyberspace, SI experts (from left) Wahl, Davis, Kelly and Wolff will analyze who'll hack it in each bracket.