Monday, March 17, 2003

Xavier No. 3 seed, UC No. 8

Kentucky gets No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier received a No. 3 seed and the University of Cincinnati a No. 8 seed when the men's NCAA basketball tournament selections were announced Sunday.

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The University of Kentucky, which won the Southeastern Conference tournament earlier in the day, received one of the four No. 1 seeds.

Here are the first-round pairings for area teams:

(3) XAVIER (26-5) vs. (14) TROY STATE (26-5), 7:25 p.m. Friday, at Nashville, Tenn.; South Region. This won't be a walkover for Xavier. The Trojans, the Atlantic Sun champions, love to run and push the tempo but won't be able to hang with XU down low. Key players: Ben Fletcher (14.2 ppg, 41 steals) Rob Lewin (12.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg).

If seeds hold, Xavier would play (6) Maryland (19-9) in the second round Sunday. Last year's national champions have experienced guard play but lack an inside presence to challenge David West.

(8) CINCINNATI (17-11) vs. (9) GONZAGA (23-8), 12:40 p.m. Thursday at Salt Lake City, Utah; West Region. Coach Bob Huggins was right and the doomsayers who said UC might not get in after a first-round exit from the Conference-USA tourney were wrong. The Bearcats had to be happy with a No. 8 seed, but Gonzaga is no blessing. The Bulldogs, in their fifth straight tournament, are everybody's NCAA sweethearts. The teams only have squared off once - at the 1999 Rock-N-Roll Shootout in Cleveland (UC won 75-68).

If seeds hold, UC would play (1) Arizona in the second round Saturday. The Wildcats were most people's preseason pick to win the national championship, and they're going to be plenty of folks now, as well. UC is 0-3 all-time against Arizona.

(1) KENTUCKY (29-3) vs. (16) IUPUI - Indiana-Purdue at Indianapolis - (20-13), 12:30 p.m. Friday at Nashville, Tenn; South Region. The Jaguars, not long ago a Division II rival of NKU, may become the media darlings of the tournament. Ron Hunter, who played on three NCAA teams at Miami University, is a high-energy coach who did a belly-flop on the court after winning the conference tourney and once broke his leg while stomping on the floor to protest a referee's call. Junior Matt Crenshaw, 26, is the oldest player in Division I.

Nevertheless, UK will play (8) Oregon or (9) Utah in the second round Sunday.

(7) INDIANA (20-12) vs. (10) ALABAMA (17-11), approximately 9:40 p.m. Friday, at Boston; Midwest Region.

(4) DAYTON (24-5) vs. (12) TULSA (22-9), approximately 9:45 p.m. Thursday at Spokane, Wash.; Midwest Region.

(4) LOUISVILLE (24-5) vs. (12) AUSTIN PEAY (23-9), 7:20 p.m. Friday at Birmingham, Ala.; East Region.

Ohio State did not make the field after losing the Big Ten tournament championship game to Illinois Sunday. The 14-13 Buckeyes will go to the NIT.

Men's bracket

Women's tourney

UC and Xavier both made the women's field as No. 10 seeds, but UC hit the jackpot: the Bearcats will play at home in Shoemaker Center.

(10) CINCINNATI (23-7) vs. (7) ARKANSAS (21-10) Sunday at Shoemaker Center; West Region. The Razorbacks were ranked in the Top 10 in December but went 7-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Key players: Shameka Christon (15.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg), India Lewis (13.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Dana Cherry (11.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg).

The other first-round game at UC matches (2) Texas (25-5) against (15) Hampton (23-8).

(10) XAVIER (20-9) vs. (7) CAL-SANTA BARBARA (26-4) Sunday at Lubbock, Texas; Midwest Region. The Gauchos won their seventh straight Big West tournament. They have one country's biggest players, 6-feet-8 center Lindsay Taylor (16.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg), and three more four double-figure scorers.

This is the first year Xavier and Cincinnati each have men's and women's teams in NCAA play. It's just the second time the women's teams from UC and Xavier will be participating in the NCAA Tournament at the same time. The only other year that happened was 1999.

Women's bracket

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