Millions of people sat in front of their televisions awaiting the annual unveiling of the NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket.

I decided to sit this one out. I’d already experienced several days of uninterrupted “Bracketology,” watched countless games across myriad conferences and waded through blogs, columns and video analysis while preparing for my Sunday morning radio show. I saw projections on a scroll under the images of my dreams.

Of course, that’s the professional side of the equation. My heart already sank on Thursday following the loss sustained by Northwestern in the Big 10 Tournament. That overtime defeat to Minnesota seemingly sealed their fate, and my suspicions were confirmed during the telecast.

It didn’t take long to find that out they’d been relegated to the NIT. Social media displayed the inevitable one-liners about the Cats’ tourney-less streak. That was it. I knew I’d have the bracket in my hands all of 15 seconds after the final region was announced and, well, talk of snubs annoys me. I didn’t need to hear about the OT losses and Tubby Smith’s squad anymore.

Naturally, I then spent several hours prepping my bracket before finally hitting the “Submit” button. I printed a blank and filled it out, then made a few corrections, searched for an extra longshot or two and then put it aside.

My countdown clock read — 42 hours, 19 minutes.
Yes, I am excited about the NCAA Men’s Tournament & the NIT and will consume hours upon hours of live game action with a bottomless cup of Johan at my side. There’s no question about it.

But, let’s face it. The bracket selection show is an institution. It’s always there for you. All eyes in the sporting world were on the “Peyton Manning World Tour” this weekend. Remember, the team visits took place with the Rams/Redskins trade and Sanchez contract extension serving as the backdrop.

– Where would he visit?
– Would a “mystery” team descend from the skies to swoop him away?
– Would he throw for teams? He did throw in the Denver area , per Mike Klis of The Denver Post.
– How would it impact the free agent market for the myriad quarterbacks ready to hit the market? Matt Flynn, anyone?

And when you can throw Tim Tebow into the mix … you have it all.

On Tuesday afternoon, the doors to free agency open and the feeding frenzy will begin. There are a number of top-tier free agents on the board, including a few surprises (OL Eric Winston being released by the Texans stands out as one).

I’ll be blogging, Tweeting (@swollendome) and yelling in audio and video forms as this process gets underway. The new NFL season begins.