EDITOR'S NOTE: Steve Carp has covered college basketball since 1975 and is a past president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Here is his bracket and insight into this year's NCAA Tournament.
Now that all the bellyaching has subsided over the snubs of Colorado and Alabama and perennial darling Duke receiving a No. 1 seed over Notre Dame, it's time to fill out your NCAA Tournament bracket.
The tourney tips off today with 68 teams, up from 65, meaning more games to pick and less time to study who has the best shot to advance to the Final Four in Houston.
Most casual college basketball fans know the favorites -- Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Duke -- and some of the other teams that populated the top 10: Notre Dame, San Diego State and Brigham Young, to name a few.
For those in need of direction, here are a few pointers:
Don't always go with the chalk; recent history shows that No. 12 seeds frequently beat No. 5s.
Teams from the East that travel west often struggle, particularly at altitude.
Squads that rely on 3-point shooting usually bow out earlier rather than later.
No. 1 seeds don't lose to No. 16 seeds, and at least one No. 1 usually reaches the Final Four. So don't simply pick the lower seeds.
Teams with multiple senior starters (Richmond, Utah State, Wofford, for instance) often find ways to stay alive.
Consistently sound defensive squads (Belmont and Bucknell) can steal a game they have no business winning.
Teams that got hot in late February and into March -- think Connecticut, which won five games in five days last week -- usually stay hot for a while.
With that in mind, here's one person's take on this year's bracket:
Although Ohio State is the No. 1 overall seed, the selection committee didn't do the Buckeyes any favors other than placing them in Cleveland for the first two rounds. Ohio State has a hot Kentucky team, seeded fourth, in its half of the bracket and third-seeded Syracuse in the bottom half.
West Virginia reached the Final Four last year. It probably won't return next month but is battle-tested from playing in the Big East and could upset Kentucky as a No. 5 seed.
Villanova has lost 10 of its last 15 games and could be a first-round casualty against George Mason. Same for Marquette, which has 14 losses, the most of any at-large team. The Golden Eagles had trouble closing out games all season and could have trouble surviving Xavier.
Duke appears to be the most vulnerable of the No. 1 seeds, with red-hot Connecticut as a No. 3 seed, talented Texas a No. 4 and Arizona a No. 5. All three are capable of ousting Duke, and UConn, led by Kemba Walker, probably will.
No. 2 seed San Diego State has never won an NCAA Tournament game. But if the Aztecs can outlast underrated Northern Colorado and then win their second-round game against the Temple-Penn State winner, they'll be rewarded with a home-court edge, given it's a 90-minute drive from San Diego to Anaheim.
Arizona, which shared the Pac-10 regular-season title with UCLA, is playing well right now and could make a nice run.
Top-seeded Kansas might have the fewest roadblocks to Houston.
Notre Dame probably deserved a No. 1 seed instead of a No. 2. The Irish are a terrific jump-shooting team but, as such, could be done if they encounter a cold-shooting game.
Kansas can play inside with twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, has excellent guard play and has dealt with adversity (the suspension of point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who is back and playing well). The Jayhawks might not face a real test until the Final Four.
Southern California was one of the last four teams in but could win a couple of games. The Trojans match up well against their opening opponent, Georgetown, one of 11 Big East teams in the field.
Louisville and Purdue are both good teams that had hiccups down the stretch. Neither matches up well against Kansas.
UNLV? A win over Illinois and a loss to Kansas in the second round.
This is the most intriguing region. No. 8 seed Butler, last year's tournament darling, meets No. 9 Old Dominion, which could be this year's Cinderella. Senior-laden Utah State, a No. 12 seed, faces No. 5 Kansas State. And, third-seeded Brigham Young will try to ride Jimmer Fredette's hot shooting as far as it can.
Sixth-seeded St. John's could struggle against No. 11 Gonzaga. The Red Storm will be without third-leading scorer and top rebounder D.J. Kennedy, who tore a knee ligament in the Big East tournament, and is playing at altitude in Denver.
Beware of Belmont. The 13th-seeded Bruins, who shoot well from long distance and allow just over 61 points, could knock off No. 4 Wisconsin.
Two Big East teams, Syracuse and Connecticut, Kansas from the Big 12 and Florida out of the Southeastern Conference make up my Final Four, with Kansas the pick to win it all.
The Jayhawks will win the Southwest Region because they have the talent, the coaching experience and the versatility to overcome any challenge. They also have future NBA first-round picks in the Morris twins; teams that win it all usually have at least two future NBA first-rounders on their roster.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.