By The Associated Press
The Latest on Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament:
The field is set and for the most part the griping about the bracket was relatively minimal.
Duke didn’t get a No. 1 seed, though the Blue Devils look dangerous.
Syracuse was the one team left out that could have made a case to get in, but even coach Jim Boeheim said that his team should have done more and not put itself in this spot.
The First Four gives a taste of what’s to come starting Tuesday. Kansas State-Wake Forest could be intriguing. Remember, every year since the First Four started, a team that has won one of those games also won at least one more.
Start planning your week and get some help filling out your brackets.
As soon as Florida Gulf Coast was revealed as Florida State’s opponent in the first round on Thursday, commentators were putting the Seminoles on upset alert.
That’s just fine to FSU, which is the third seed in the West and making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012.
“Tell them that we love being on upset alert,” said junior point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes. “Even when we were on our six-game run against ranked teams (where they went 5-1) no one believed in us,”
The Seminoles (25-8) and Eagles (26-7) have met in the postseason once before – FSU won a 2014 NIT matchup in Tallahassee. This matchup will again be in state as it will take place in Orlando on Thursday. – Joe Reedy reporting from Tallahassee, Florida
Just about the only solace Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall could find Sunday night was that his Shockers were in the NCAA Tournament.
He sure wasn’t pleased with anything else.
Not with the surprisingly high No. 10 seed. Not with having to play seventh-seeded Dayton in the first round. And certainly not with the prospects of playing in the second round No. 2 seed Kentucky, which beat his top-seeded team and ruined its perfect season a few years ago.
“I’m just glad (the selection committee) didn’t forget about us,” Marshall said only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. “I was starting to think they might forget about us and not put us in at all.”
The Missouri Valley Tournament champs were ranked 20th in the latest AP poll.
“Somehow, 20 divided by four equals 10. But that’s OK,” Marshall said. “That’s the way it’s been for a long time. I don’t know what we’d do if we were a really good seed most of the time.” – Dave Skretta reporting from Wichita, Kansas.
The first game of the NCAA Tournament will be Mount St. Mary’s against New Orleans in the First Four at Daytona, Ohio, on Tuesday night.
Tip-off times have been announced for the games by CBS and Turner Sports.
The first tip for the games on Thursday will be a 5 vs. 12 matchup at 12:15 p.m. ET between Notre Dame and Princeton in Buffalo.
Gonzaga will be the first No. 1 seed to tipoff. The Zags, top-seed in the West, start 2 p.m. ET in Salt Lake City. Thursday against South Dakota State. East No. 1 Villanova begins its tournament play in primetime, tipping off at 7:10 p.m. ET against the winner of Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans.
North Carolina, the top seed in the South, will play the second afternoon game in Friday’s day session in Greenville, South Carolina.
Kansas tips off at 6:50 p.m. ET on Friday against the winner of North Carolina Central and UC Davis.
The Orange was not selected for the field of 68 this time.
“Everybody’s disappointed. That’s only what you’d expect. Nobody’s happy,” coach Jim Boeheim said. “I think it comes down to we won just two road games and obviously lost three games to teams outside the top 100. We just have to get ready and try to play the best we can in the NIT.”
In the end, the Orange most likely sealed its fate with five nonconference losses, including Georgetown, UConn and St. John’s, the latter the worst loss at home in Boeheim’s 41-year tenure. Boston College also humbled Syracuse in the conference opener.
Not even wins over Florida State, Virginia and Duke when all three were ranked in the top 10 could make up for that.
A major winter snowstorm is heading for the northeast that some teams traveling for the NCAA Tournament will have to work around.
“We’re looking at leaving (Monday) night right now to try to get out of here before the snow hits on Tuesday,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright, whose team plays Thursday in Buffalo.
If the Wildcats can get through the first two rounds, New York is their next stop. The fourth-seed in the East is Florida and Virginia could be a dangerous No. 5. Duke is the No. 2, lurking down the bracket.
“Sometimes we’ve had brackets that have seemed easy and we’ve never got out of it and sometimes we’ve had brackets that have seemed impossible and we advanced,” Wright said. “I remember the year we went to the Final Four in `09. That bracket looked daunting. As of a matter of fact, Duke was in that bracket, too. And we came out of it. You’ve just got to play the tournament.”
Minnesota’s first bid in four seasons under Richard Pitino makes this the first time a father and a son have each taken a team as a head coach to the same NCAA Tournament.
When Louisville appeared on the screen as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, there were a few gasps in the party room where the Gophers watched the selection show with family, boosters and school officials.
The No. 7 seed and a second-round matchup with Rick Pitino and his Cardinals squad would have been a natural spot on the bracket for the Gophers.
The selection committee resisted any temptation, though, and that was just fine with Richard Pitino.
“That wouldn’t have been right,” he said, adding: “I would’ve hated for that story line to have been about us.”
The Gophers fared much better than that Louisville draw that didn’t happen. They’re the No. 5 seed in the South region instead. They face a dangerous first-round foe in Middle Tennessee, but they’re playing in Milwaukee, about a five-hour drive from Minnesota’s campus.
– Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis
The Vanderbilt Commodores and first-year coach Bryce Drew take a lot of baggage into the NCAA Tournament with them: 15 losses, the most ever by an at-large team.
The Commodores also have won seven of their last nine games and 10 of 14. Vanderbilt notched six Top 50 wins, three against Florida and one at Arkansas. The Commodores also beat Iowa State, the No. 5 seed in the Midwest.
That earned Vanderbilt the ninth seed in the West Region and the 33rd seed overall in the tournament and will play No. 8 seed Northwestern on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
The Commodores expected good news when they lost in the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals to Arkansas and celebrated in a private watch party Sunday.
Five minutes sooner, and Kentucky might have learned its NCAA Tournament seeding and destination firsthand instead of other means.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats confirmed what they expected with a No. 2 seeding in the South Region against No. 15 Northern Kentucky, located about an hour north of Lexington. They’ll play Friday in Indianapolis.
Kentucky was traveling from Nashville after winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament hours earlier and arrived shortly after its pairing was announced. With the destination, seeding and pairing following predictions, the Wildcats seemed unfazed upon seeing the bracket as they settled onto couches, chairs and the floor in coach John Calipari’s living room.
“A few things started leaking on Twitter about it,” senior forward Derek Willis said. “When I was walking up the driveway, that’s when I found out where we had gotten seeded. We just take what we get and go from there.”
– Gary B. Graves reporting from Lexington, Kentucky
Villanova is the selection committee’s top overall seed, but Kansas is the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament, according to Las Vegas odds compiled by Pregame.com.
The Jayhawks are 8-to-1 to win the whole thing, followed by North Carolina and Villanova at 9-to-1. Gonzaga, Duke and Kentucky are 10-to-1 to win the championship.
Pac-12 rivals UCLA and Arizona are both 12-to-1. Louisville is 16-to-1, and Oregon is 20-to-1.
The Ducks’ chances took a huge hit in the Pac-12 tournament with big man Chris Boucher injured his knee.
Butler coach Chris Holtmann knows his opponent pretty well. He actually faced Winthrop before at his only other head coaching stop at Gardner-Webb.
“We were in the same league, and I think they won it one or two years, maybe my first year (at Gardner-Webb),” Holtmann said after the pairings were announced. “I think (coach) Pat (Kelsey) come on in my last or final year there.”
Butler, which has the highest seed in school history at No. 4, will be playing in nearby Milwaukee against the Big South champion. Knowing about Winthrop won’t make things much easier during a late-night cram session expected to last into the wee hours of Monday morning.
The Bulldogs will try to protect their new status as tourney favorites against a foe that proved it can be a giant-killer, too, one that upset Notre Dame a decade ago.
Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski won’t allow himself to look past his team’s first-round matchup again South Carolina – even with a game against his alma mater, Duke, potentially awaiting in the second round.
“Not as a head coach, but I’ve been part of this tournament a lot and you’ve got to take it one game at a time,” he said at a Selection Sunday viewing party on campus. “My focus and our team’s focus will be on South Carolina only.”
Wojciechowski not only played at Duke, he also served as an assistant coach.
Marquette is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
– Genaro Armas reporting from Milwaukee
Arkansas’ somewhat recent history of facing North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament could continue this year.
The eighth-seeded Razorbacks (25-9) returned to the tournament for a second time in three seasons with their selection on Sunday, and they’ll open by facing ninth-seeded Seton Hall (21-11) on Friday.
Should Arkansas win its opener, it’s likely to face top-seeded North Carolina (27-7) in the second round – which would be the sixth NCAA Tournament meeting between the two schools since 1990.
The Razorbacks lost to the Tar Heels two years ago in the second round, and they’ve been ousted by North Carolina in each of their last two tournament appearances.
The schools met in the Sweet 16 in 1990 and 1993, splitting those games, while Arkansas defeated the Tar Heels in the Final Four in 1995. In all, North Carolina has won three of the five meetings – with the potential for that sixth coming next weekend.
Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins waved off decades of futility by pumping both fists in the air to celebrate the Wildcats’ first-ever invitation to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Until Northwestern turned up in the bracket – a No. 8 seed playing No. 9 Vanderbilt in the West Region – Collins alternately sat with arms folded, or his hands clasped, seemingly doing anything to keep from chewing off his fingertips.
A roar followed the selection, and then doubled in volume as the CBS selection show cameras showed the largely purple crowd of around 2,000 on their feet and stomping the old bleachers. Welsh-Ryan Arena, the Wildcats home gym, is slated for a floor-to-ceiling renovation beginning Monday.
There are some very excited Wildcats fans right now .
The West Region of the NCAA Tournament has a decidedly Western feel for a change.
Led by West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga and Pac-12 tournament winner Arizona, the top two teams in the West Region are actually from the Western part of the United States for the first time in 26 years.
With the Bulldogs (32-1) spending much of the year near the top of the polls and the Wildcats (30-4) part of a trip of highly rated Pac-12 teams with Oregon and UCLA, the selection committee didn’t have to look far to find the top two seeds for the regional that will be decided in San Jose in two weeks.
This marks the first time since 1991 when UNLV and Arizona got the honors that the top two seeds in the West Region came from the West.
The No. 1 in West is Gonzaga, but it’s the 8-9 game in Salt Lake City that has historical significance. Eighth-seeded Northwestern, in the NCAA tournament for the first time, will face Vanderbilt with first-year coach Bryce Drew.
No major conference team had waited as long as Northwestern for their first NCAA bid.
Arizona is the No. 2 in the West, and Florida State is the No. 3 seed. Interesting first-round matchup for the Seminoles in Orlando: Florida Gulf Coast. Dunk City is back in the NCAAs.
Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed for the second time in school history, and it comes with some memories – not all of them good.
Gonzaga will face No. 16 seed South Dakota State on Thursday in Salt Lake City. The other time the Bulldogs received a No. 1 seed was 2013. And they were sent to Salt Lake City. And they were upset in the round of 32 by Wichita State as the Shockers made a run to the Final Four. This time, the Bulldogs could end up facing tournament first-timer Northwestern in the second round.
This is a different Gonzaga squad led by West Coast Conference player of the year Nigel Williams-Goss. The Bulldogs have five players averaging in double figures scoring, but the question will be how they handle a close game. Aside from its loss to BYU, Gonzaga’s only had one game decided by less than 10 points since Dec. 3.
Kansas missed out on a chance to get revenge on Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament when it lost to TCU on Friday.
The Jayhawks might get another crack at the Cyclones in the Sweet Sixteen.
As the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, Kansas will play in Kansas City – where Iowa State won the league tournament on Saturday – if it gets through the first two rounds.
The Cyclones, the fifth seed in the Midwest, beat Kansas in overtime in Lawrence in February and closed the regular season with nine wins out of 10. They’ll have to get past Nevada and possibly Purdue for a trip to the regional semifinals.
Given how many Kansas and Iowa State fans annually make the three-hour trip to Kansas City for the Big 12 tournament, tickets could be a hot item if the Jayhawks and Cyclones get a chance to renew their rivalry at the Sprint Center.
North Carolina takes the top seed in the South. The Tar Heels won the ACC by two games, but were bounced from the conference tournament in the semifinals by Duke. The Tar Heels play Texas Southern in game one, with Arkansas or Seton Hall waiting in the second round in Greenville, South Carolina.
This is a region dripping with blue and championship history.
The second seed is Kentucky and No. 3 is UCLA. Along with North Carolina, those teams have 25 total championships.
We are heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the No. 9 seed against Miami (Fla.) on Friday, March 17. #SpartansMarchOn #WinnerStays pic.twitter.com/VoZ21eSLXS
— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) March 12, 2017
Kentucky was still flying when the initial NCAA Tournament bracket was announced and probably didn’t learn until landing that it was a No. 2 seed and matched against in-state neighbor and newcomer Northern Kentucky, No. 15 seed.
The No. 8 Wildcats were heading back to Lexington after beating Arkansas 82-65 for the Southeastern Conference Tournament title on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Coach John Calipari and players usually head to his house after returning to watch the Selection Show, but weren’t back in time this year to discover they’re headed to Indianapolis – at least, not in front of assembled media stationed in the coach’s living room.
Little about the seeding or placement was a surprise, though Kentucky’s run through the SEC had stoked talk radio and social media buzz about possibly earning a No. 1 seed.
– By Gary B. Graves reporting from Kentucky.
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