Setting the stage for March
Selection committee got it right, but some seedings questionable.
Florida Earns No. 1 Overall Seed
The speculation is over and the NCAA tournament field of 68 is set. Let the games begin, baby!
First of all, I felt Ron Wellman and his selection committee did an outstanding job in selecting the field, though I know Larry Brown down at SMU may disagree. And Brown could have a point, with two wins over Connecticut and one over Memphis.
The bottom line is, if the Mustangs were in, whom would you take out? I felt NC State deserved to be in based on its wins at Pittsburgh and at Tennessee, plus the big victory over Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals.
I did have a disagreement over several of the seeds. Let's start with Louisville as a No. 4 seed. The Cardinals had just one loss since Feb. 1. Rick Pitino's team is peaking at the right time, winning five in a row, all by double figures. Russ Smith has been on fire, hitting 65 percent of his 3-pointers during that five-game stretch.
Then there is Kentucky as a No. 8 seed. Are you kidding me? I know John Calipari's team has been a bit of a disappointment, going from preseason No. 1 to an unranked team at season's end. But if you believe the Wildcats cannot play, go ask Florida about the SEC tournament championship game.
Kentucky could meet Wichita State in a round of 32 game and that is a tough draw for Gregg Marshall's unbeaten club. I could see the Shockers suffering the same fate as Gonzaga did last season as a No. 1 seed, losing in the round of 32. Oh yes, the Zags fell to Wichita State last season!
I was happy to see Virginia was rewarded with the fourth No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers won the ACC regular-season and tournament titles.
Another team that I felt was seeded too low was New Mexico as a No. 7 seed in the South. The Lobos won the Mountain West tournament championship and have played very well down the stretch.
The committee came up with a number of interesting matchups throughout the tournament -- some which we'll see right away and others that could happen if the results fall the right way. This tournament is wide open, my friends.
Kansas-New Mexico in the round of 32 is a potential upset city with Joel Embiid out for the Kansas. We could see rematches of games played earlier this season, including Arizona-San Diego State, Kentucky-Louisville and Duke-Michigan.
We're starting with an in-state rivalry as Ohio State plays Dayton in the opener for both teams. Nebraska-Baylor is an old Big 12 matchup. And former Big East foes Connecticut and Villanova could square off in the round of 32.
The bottom line is, this should be an exciting three weeks, the best time for college hoop junkies. I cannot wait to tip it off, baby!
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