On the surface it might seem things aren't changing after all, high-scoring teams with experienced coaches still outperform their opponents.
Below the surface, however, the tournament is gradually mutating. March Madness of 1985 was a very different event than the tourney that will tip off in 2005. Here are some trends that can aid in predicting tournament success:
1. Coaching experience
In 1985, the average coach of a tourney team had made about four trips (4.3) to the Dance. That number has been rising steadily ever since. Coaches in last year's bracket had six years of tourney experience under their belts. While coaching experience has become a key qualification for getting to the Dance, it's even more critical for advancing in the tournament. Since 1985, the average tourney experience of a Final Four coach has been nearly four years more than that of a coach entering the 64-team field (9.5 years to 5.6 years) and the gulf is increasing.