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March Madness Bracket 2011: Questionable First Four Teams Preclude Colorado Somehow

The NCAA Tournament expanded to a field of 68 this year by adding a two-day, eight-team opening round called the First Four. The bottom four automatic qualifiers will play each other for entry as 16 seeds against 1 seeds. Then the last four at-large teams taken play for a line in their seed. Those games break down as follows:

East Region
No. 12 UAB vs. No. 12 Clemson, winner plays No. 5 West Virginia
No. 16 Texas-San Antonio vs. No. 16 Alabama State, winner plays No. 1 Ohio State

Southwest Region
No. 11 USC vs. No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth, winner plays No. 6 Georgetown

Southeast Region
No. 16 UNC-Asheville vs. No. 16 Arkansas-Little Rock, winner plays No. 1 Pittsburgh

So the Colorado Buffaloes were, according to the committee, not better than UAB, Clemson, USC or Virginia Commonwealth--even with a victory over Texas and three wins against Kansas State. As ESPN's Eamon Brennan details, UAB and VCU were not all that worthy of an NCAA Tournament berth, especially compared to Colorado. This really is a head-scratcher and an NIT selection will not make up for it. An NIT win may come close, but just being in the Big Dance means something more than the second-level championship.