Never too early to talk about your bracket

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While coaches, schools and conferences worry about how the “First Four” will affect their seasons – mid- and low-major schools don’t sound enthused – the rest of college basketball fans are thinking about something else:

How will this affect my bracket?

It’s a good question, especially for those who wait until the last minute to turn in their picks. That may not be possible anymore.

To recap, the “First Four” format for the new 68-team field will feature two four first-round games that will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Two games will feature 16 seeds, the others will likely have a 12 and 11 seeds. (Maybe. The NCAA isn’t locking down a format yet.) Do you pick the winners in those games? Should pools just ignore those teams and treat them as automatic advancers? And if so, how does that affect your bracket?

So many questions. … Thankfully, the guys over at Rush the Court broke down the options, of which there are three:

  • Make people pick the first-round winners. That forces people to turn in their brackets on Tuesday before the first game, which probably hoses those procrastinators.
  • Ignore the games.
  • Don’t weight the games as heavily as the others. If one gets 1 point for correctly picking Thursday and Friday winners, give ’em a half point for the opening-round games. Or something like that.

Then again, it can get even more complicated. Eammon Brennan thinks two deadlines makes sense. That way people can ignore those early games if need be. But there’s essentially no simple solution.

Basically, if you’re in a pool next March, double check the rules. They may have changed from what you’re used to.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.