NCAA No. 1s same as last year


INDIANAPOLIS, AP

Stanford, Duke and defending champion Michigan State were selected as No. 1 seeds for the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament for the second straight year Sunday, joined at the top of the brackets by Illinois. The top six conferences dominated the field for the U.S. college basketball championship, receiving 29 of the 34 at-large berths. The Big Ten’s seven teams matched the record for the most in the tournament. The first-ever 65-team field starts play Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, with Northwestern State facing Winthrop in the opening-round game. The winner between the two lowest-ranked teams advances to play Illinois (24-7) in the Midwest’s first round in Dayton on Friday. Stanford (28-2), the unanimous No. 1 team in the AP poll for the last two weeks, is the top seed in the West, while Duke (29-4) plays in the East and Michigan State (24-4) is in the South. “This is the time to do it. This is why I came back” to school, Duke senior Shane Battier said. The No. 2 seeds are Kentucky, North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa State, while the No. 3s are Boston College, Florida, Mississippi and Maryland. UCLA, Oklahoma, Kansas and Indiana were selected as No. 4 seeds. Following the Big Ten’s seven selections were the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference with six each. The Big East and Pacific-10 each had five teams chosen. In addition to Illinois’ matchup with the winner of the opening-round game, the games at Dayton on Friday are: No. 8 Tennessee vs. No. 9 Charlotte; No. 5 Syracuse vs. No. 12 Hawaii; and No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Cal State-Northridge. The other Midwest first-round games will be in Kansas City, Missouri, with No. 6 Notre Dame facing No. 11 Xavier; No. 3 Mississippi against No. 14 Iona; No. 7 Wake Forest playing No. 10 Butler; and No. 2 Arizona, the other No. 1 seed last season, against No. 15 Eastern Illinois. Michigan State begins defense of its title Friday in Memphis, Tennessee, against No. 16 Alabama State. “We’re excited to say the least,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I didn’t know where we would end up. To have three straight NCAA seeds is something our program can be proud of. Going to the South is fine with me.” In the other games there that day: No. 8 California plays No. 9 Fresno State; No. 5 Virginia faces No. 12 Gonzaga; and No. 4 Oklahoma plays No. 13 Indiana State. The other South first-round games will be played Friday in New Orleans, with No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Temple; No. 3 Florida vs. No. 14 Western Kentucky; No. 7 Penn State vs. No. 10 Providence; and No. 2 orth Carolina vs. No. 15 Princeton. Duke plays Thursday in Greensboro, North Carolina, against No. 16 Monmouth. The other games in that East subregional are: No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 8 Georgia, which enters with the most losses ever by an at-large team with its 16-14 record; No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 12 Utah State; and No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Hofstra. In Uniondale, New York, on Thursday, No. 6 Southern California faces No. 11 Oklahoma State; No. 3 Boston College plays No. 14 Southern Utah; No. 7 Iowa faces No. 10 Creighton; and No. 2 Kentucky plays No. 15 Holy Cross. The final subregionals will be in San Diego and Boise, Idaho, on Thursday and Saturday. Stanford plays No. 16 North Carolina-Greensboro in San Diego, while No. 8 Georgia Tech faces No. 9 St. Joseph’s; No. 5 Cincinnati plays No. 12 Brigham Young; and No. 4 Indiana faces No. 13 Kent State. In Boise, it’s No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Georgia State; No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 14 George Mason; No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Georgetown; and No. 2 Iowa State vs. No. 15 Hampton. Five schools — Alabama State, Cal State-Northridge, Hampton, Northwestern State and Southern Utah — are making their first NCAA tournament appearances. Notre Dame, which hasn’t been in the field since 1990, ended the longest drought. North Carolina extended its own record with a 27th consecutive appearance, while Arizona (17), Indiana (16), UCLA (13), Kansas (12), Temple (12), Cincinnati (10) and Kentucky (10) have the next longest current streaks. Georgia ties two records with its selection. The Bulldogs became the fifth team, and first since Villanova in 1991, to be chosen as an at-large team with 14 losses and are the 11th team, and first since Texas in 1997, to be chosen as an at-large with just 16 wins. The selection also tied a coaching record. Jim Harrick of Georgia and Lefty Driesell of Georgia State joined Eddie Sutton as men who have taken four schools to the tournament. Harrick also took UCLA, winning the title in 1995, Rhode Island and Pepperdine to the tournament, while Driesell also led Maryland, Davidson and James Madison. Sutton, in the field again with Oklahoma State, also took Creighton, Kentucky and Arkansas to the tournament. Oklahoma State (20-9) was a sentimental choice for many. The Sooners had to play the final month of the season after the plane crash that killed 10 people, including two players. With Louisville failing to make the field in Denny Crum’s final season, Arizona’s Lute Olson takes over as the active coach with the most appearances at 23. Olson’s run of 17 in a row is also the longest current streak, with Temple’s John Chaney and Kansas’ Roy Williams second, each at 12. The longest current streak to end was Gene Keady of Purdue, who had been in the last eight tournaments. Princeton made the field under first-year coach John Thompson III, who is now 19 appearances behind his father, John, who retired at Georgetown in 1999. The East Regional will be in Philadelphia on March 22 and 24, the same days the West Regional will be held in Anaheim, California. The Midwest Regional will be in San Antonio on March 23 and 25, the same days the South Regional will be held in Atlanta. The Final Four is March 31 and April 2 at Minneapolis.