Monday, March 17, 2003

Indiana teams headed to NCAA

Purdue, Valparaiso, Notre Dame all in tournament field

By Dan Gelston
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - Valparaiso coach Keith Freeman knows his program can't compete with Purdue in the history books. The NCAA tournament though, is something else.

"In Indiana basketball, they're the team every team looks to and is trying to chase," Freeman said. "What they've accomplished is amazing.

"But I like our team this year and what we've done."

No. 15 seed Valparaiso (18-12) plays at No. 2 seed Purdue (26-5) Saturday at Mackey Arena in the East Regional.

Valparaiso earned an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament - its first - with a win over Oakland in the championship game of the Mid-Continent Conference tournament.

The Boilermakers also earned an automatic bid with their Big Ten tournament championship.

"We're very honored that the committee thought enough of us to give us a No. 2 seed," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. "That's quite an honor. I think it's indicative of the way we finished the year. It's a brand new season."

This is the first year that the highest-seeded teams weren't assured of playing at home in the first two rounds. The 16 arenas for those games were chosen last year.

Mackey Arena though, was one of them. Playing at home didn't help the Boilermakers much last year when they lost to Old Dominion in the second round.

"I'm happy we're at home," Curry said.

The other game is No. 7 Virginia Tech (21-9) vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech (20-10). The winners play Monday.

Purdue has a 5-0 career record against the Crusaders, with the last game in 2000.

The only other Indiana school to earn a tournament bid was Notre Dame (19-10). The 11th-seeded Irish play No. 6 Arizona (22-8) on Sunday in Manhattan, Kan., in the East Regional.

"I'm relieved," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I didn't think we were on the bubble, but I guess we were if we were a No. 11 seed."

In the NIT bracket, Ball State (19-8) plays at Indiana State (21-7) on Friday.

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