Monday, March 11, 2002

NCAA Men's Tournament preview

Madness starts with the bracket

By Mike Lopresti
Gannett News Service

        INDIANAPOLIS — First glance at the men's NCAA Tournament bracket:

        The West is loaded. Absolutely loaded. Second glance:

        What's the reading on the miff-o-meter today at Gonzaga? Ohio State? Mississippi State? Oklahoma?

        The marching orders for March were issued Sunday, with defending national champion Duke, Maryland, Kansas and Cincinnati as top seeds.

        Plus the customary quirks to thicken the soup until the jump shots begin.

        • If the bracket looks a little lopsided, it's because the West is talent heavy.

        The top four seeds are Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio State, and all four won major conference tournaments over the weekend.

        Xavier is a
high-quality No.7 seed, and so is UCLA at No.8

        Then there's the controversial matter of the No.6 seed. Speaking of ...

        • Gonzaga. The Zags are 29-3, come off three straight trips to the Sweet 16, and have won 26 of their last 27.

        For all that, they received a No.6 seed, which is like getting an ugly tie on Christmas morning ... and probably means a game against Arizona in the second round.

        NCAA Tournament committee chairman Lee Fowler mentioned something about Gonzaga having 12 wins against teams ranked 200 or higher on the Ratings Percentage Index. Still, Gonzaga has cause for grief.

        “They're not an easy team to seed,” Fowler said.

        We can tell.

        • About that new NCAA system to keep teams close to home in the first week?

        The good news: Thirty-nine teams were kept in their time zone, compared to 22 last year.

        The bad: Ohio State won the Big Ten tournament title, but was sent to Albuquerque, which is only close to home if you're measuring by light years. Meanwhile, Illinois, whom Ohio State beat Saturday, gets to play in Chicago.

        • The new setup also creates some odd homecourt advantages. Mississippi State is the No.3 seed in the Midwest, and as an unjust reward may well have to play No.6 Texas in the second round .. in Dallas.

        • Among the teams not to get in was 20-11 Syracuse, the first Big East team in history to win 20 games and go uninvited. And North Carolina's 27-year streak ended..

        A look at the regions:

BEST FIRST ROUND GAME: No.4 Kentucky vs. No.13 Valparaiso. An upset waiting to happen.

        SECOND ROUND POSSIBILITIES: Kentucky coach Tubby Smith against his old employer, Tulsa.

BEST FIRST ROUND GAME: No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Western Kentucky.

        SECOND ROUND POSSIBILITIES: Kansas is notorious for early exits, so there's potential for peril against either Stanford or Western Kentucky.

BEST FIRST ROUND GAME: No.7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Kent State.

        SECOND ROUND POSSIBILITIES: No.6 California may have to cut a swath through Pennsylvania, possibly needing to beat both Penn and Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. WEST

BEST FIRST-ROUND GAME: No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 Hawaii. Xavier has won 20 of 22, Hawaii 12 of 14.

        SECOND ROUND POSSIBILITIES: This region is full of them. Cincinnati-UCLA. Arizona-Gonzaga. Oklahoma-Xavier. The enormous depth of the West will be clear in the second round.


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Goliaths don't scare Valparaiso
UK's road to title game
- NCAA Men's Tournament preview
NCAA Men's Tournament schedule
NCAA Men's Tournament seedings
NCAA Women's Tournament preview
Men's NIT schedule
NIT takes half of Atlantic 10
NCAA Women's Tournament schedule
NKU women reach Elite Eight
Coming up this week
Division II women's basketball tournament
Hershey 2, Mighty Ducks 1
Wilmington women lose D-III regional

Bearcats low-key about high seed
UC sees Ohio State ahead
Most UC fans will get shut out
Terriers may be underdogs but they'll be dogged
UC's road to title game
UC women hope to make 'some noise'
Peahens are puzzle to Pirtle
UC wins C-USA tourney
Conference tourney just a warmup
Logan earns MVP honors
Xavier wants to do some damage
Hawaii has international lineup
XU's road to title game
Xavier wins Atlantic-10 tourney
Clark named fourth outfielder
Added years don't hurt Pineda
Blue Jays 4, Reds 3
Three girls teams eye state basketball titles
Five boys teams enter regionals
Ohio girls state tournament pairings
Ohio boys regional pairings
Ky. boys Sweet 16 schedule
Ky. girls regional pairings