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    Following Flynt - Not All Brackets Are Created Equal

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    Conventional wisdom suggests a 16-team bracket plays out just like any of the four regions within the NCAA tournament - #1 plays #16, #2 plays #15, #3 plays #14, etc.

    Such is not the case however, for the BIG EAST tournament, which started on Friday in Hartford for the women, and begins tomorrow in New York for the men.

    Beginning in 2009, the conference started including all 16 conference teams in the postseason tournament, while prior to that, only the top 12 in the regular season standings qualified.

    Often considered the toughest basketball conference in college basketball, the current tournament format rewards teams who make it through the 18-game regular season schedule with few battle scars.

    The top four seeds, which include Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame and Cincinnati this season, receive a double-bye to the quarterfinals.

    Teams #5 through #8 are awarded a bye to the second round, while the bottom half of the league, teams #9 through #16 must play on the opening day.

    Last season, Connecticut (#9 seed) won an astonishing five games in five days to win the conference championship, before winning six straight in the NCAA tournament, on its way to a national title.

    Given Notre Dame's position as a #3 seed in this year's tournament, the Fighting Irish will play Thursday at 9 pm ET on ESPN against #6 South Florida or the winner of #11 Rutgers and #14 Villanova.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

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