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.