Little Guys Come Up Big – NCAA, NIT, CBI Tournament Analysis For March 18th
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The field for the NCAA’s 68-team men’s basketball tournament is set.
The selection committee anointed fourth-ranked Louisville as the No. 1 overall seed. The Big East champions are in the Midwest Region and will play the winner of the North Carolina A&T versus Liberty game in the second round.
Top-ranked Gonzaga owns the No. 1 seed in the West. The West Coast Conference title winners will go up against Southern in their tournament opener.
Third-ranked Indiana gets the No. 1 nod in the East and will take on the winner of the first round game between LIU Brooklyn and James Madison.
Seventh-ranked Kansas is the No. 1 seed in the South. The Big 12 champs will open against Western Kentucky.
The Big East led all conferences with eight teams chosen. The Big Ten was next with seven.
UNDATED (AP) — The little guys are getting some big respect in the NCAA tournament.
The selection committee handed out 11 at-large bids to teams from outside what are often called the power conferences.
The budding trend was most noticeable with the last four teams chosen for the field on Sunday. The committee chose La Salle, Boise State, St. Mary’s and Middle Tennessee State over the likes of Tennessee, Kentucky and Iowa, all 20-win teams from bigger conferences.
UNDATED (AP) — Who has the toughest bracket? It could be those 16 teams lumped in the East Region, where Indiana is No. 1. The Hoosiers have plenty of former NCAA championship company in the East.
UNLV, Syracuse, California and Marquette are all former national champions. So is North Carolina State, in the region as a No. 8 seed on the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest championship game upsets, Jimmy Valvano’s 1983 upset of heavily favored Houston.
Temple, Colorado and Illinois have all played in regional finals.
Cal, the 1959 national champs, are the No. 12 seed and play fifth-seeded UNLV.
DAYTON, Ohio (AP)— Liberty, the upset victor of the Big South tournament, will open the NCAA tournament Tuesday night in Dayton. Coach Dale Layer’s Flames take their 15-20 overall record and will open against 19-16 North Carolina A&T, winner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
That game will be followed by Middle Tennessee State against Saint Mary’s of California.
On Wednesday night, LIU Brooklyn out of the Northeast Conference takes on James Madison, winner of the Colonial Athletic Association. That will be followed by Boise State against LaSalle.
NIT BASKETBALL TOURNEY
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s inconsistent play this year has left the Wildcats without a chance to defend their national championship. Kentucky becomes the 20th national champion to miss the tournament the following season, according to Stats LLC.
The 21-11 Wildcats aren’t the only SEC team snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Alabama and Tennessee also missed the cut, marking the first time in 39 years that the Wildcats, Crimson Tide and Volunteers were left out of the same NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats and Crimson Tide are No. 1 seeds in the NIT, along with Southern Mississippi and Virginia.
Kentucky opens its NIT bid at Robert Morris Tuesday.
CBI BASKETBALL TOURNEY
UNDATED (AP)— Texas and George Mason highlight the 16-team field for the sixth annual College Basketball Invitational. The Longhorns, who missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years, will play at Houston on Wednesday night in a matchup of former powers.
George Mason, the mid-major underdog that made a stunning run to the 2006 Final Four, goes on the road Tuesday night for its tournament opener against College of Charleston.
Other first-round games Tuesday are Vermont at Santa Clara; and Lehigh at Wyoming.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS
UNDATED (AP) — Tenth-ranked Ohio State claims the Big Ten championship with a 50-43 victory over No. 22 Wisconsin in the conference tournament finale. DeShaun Thomas led the Buckeyes to their fifth tournament title in nine appearances by scoring 17 points. Ohio State held Wisconsin to 38.3 percent shooting from the field.
The Buckeyes head into the NCAA tournament with a 26-7 record. The Badgers are 23-11.
Shane Larkin scored eight of his career-high 28 points in the final two and a-half minutes and ninth-ranked Miami pulled away late and beat North Carolina 87-77 in the ACC championship game in Greensboro. The sophomore guard is the son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.
Trey McKinney Jones added a career-high 20 for the top-seeded Hurricanes, who improve to 27-6.
P.J. Hairston scored a team-high 28 for the Tar Heels, who fall to 24-10.
Murphy Holloway scored 23 points and Marshall Henderson added 21 as Mississippi upset 13th-ranked Florida 66-63 in the SEC title showdown in Nashville. The Rebels’ first tournament title since 1981, and second ever, gives coach Andy Kennedy his first NCAA tournament berth.
Top-seeded Florida hasn’t won the tournament since wrapping up a three-peat in 2007.
The Gators go into the NCAA tournament 0-6 in games decided by six points or less.
Sixteenth-ranked Saint Louis won the Atlantic 10 title in its first season in the conference. Kwamain Mitchell scored 19 points and tournament MVP Dwayne Evans contributed 16 to the top-seeded Billikens’ 62-56 victory over 25th-ranked VCU in a championship game played in Brooklyn.