Selection Sunday: Breaking it down

March, 15, 2009
Editor's note: This blog entry was done in real time as the bracket was announced.

Looking at the South Region

• North Carolina is the No. 1 seed and plays No. 16 seed Radford on Thursday in Greensboro, N.C. The Tar Heels could potentially play No. 8 seed Butler, if the Bulldogs can get past No. 9 seed LSU in the first round.

• How tough of a ticket will it be in Greensboro? Impossible with Duke and North Carolina playing there.

• No. 5 seed Illinois draws a tough first-round matchup against Western Kentucky in Portland, which has had success in the NCAA tournament.

• Gonzaga also stays close to home as the No. 4 seed in the South, playing No. 13 seed Akron in Portland.

• Michigan becomes the sixth Big Ten team to make the field, as the No. 10 seed in the South. The Wolverines, who will be playing in the NCAAs for the first time in 10 years, play No. 7 seed Clemson in Miami on Friday.

• Power conferences get 30 at-large bids; non-power conferences get only four at-large bids. Bubble teams left out of the field: Auburn, Creighton, Florida, Penn State, South Carolina, San Diego State and Saint Mary's, among others.

• Oklahoma is the No. 2 seed in the South Region, which seems maybe one spot too high after the Sooners struggled following Blake Griffin's concussion.

• The field is pretty balanced as far as teams from the BCS football-playing conferences: seven from the ACC, seven from the Big East, seven from the Big Ten, six from the Pac-10, six from the Big 12 -- but only three from the SEC.

Looking at the East Region

• Pitt is the No. 1 seed in the East Region and plays No. 16 seed East Tennessee State, which seems to be a little bit of a low seed for the Buccaneers. At first glance, Pitt's road to Detroit seems a little easier than those facing Louisville and Connecticut.

• Great first-round game between Oklahoma State and Tennessee in the East Region, with the winner advancing to play the Huskies.

• No. 3 seed Villanova gets a huge favor from the selection committee, playing its first-round game against No. 14 seed American in -- Philadelphia! The Wildcats would play the winner of the game between No. 6 seed UCLA and No. 11 seed VCU in the second round.

• Minnesota gets into the field, as the No. 10 seed in the East Region. Tubby Smith's team will play No. 7 seed Texas in Greensboro, N.C.

• I'm guessing No. 11 seed VCU over No. 6 seed UCLA, to be played Thursday in Philadelphia, will be another popular first-round upset pick.

• Duke gets a short road trip, too, as the No. 2 seed in the East Region. The Blue Devils will play their first-round game against No. 15 seed Binghamton in Greensboro.

• Florida State gets a No. 5 seed after losing to the Blue Devils in the ACC tourney final Sunday. The Seminoles' reward? They get to travel to Boise to play No. 12 seed Wisconsin, which apparently was pretty close to missing the field given its seeding.

Looking at the West Region

• Connecticut is the No. 1 seed in the West Region, but gets to play its first-round game against No. 16 seed Chattanooga in Philadelphia. The Huskies will play the winner of No. 8 seed BYU and No. 9 seed Texas A&M in the second round.

• Mississippi State didn't get much reward for winning the SEC tournament -- other than an auto bid. The No. 13 seed Bulldogs will play No. 4 seed Washington in Portland, which is much closer to Seattle than Starkville, Miss.

• Missouri is the No. 3 seed after winning the Big 12 tournament title. The Tigers will play Ivy League champion Cornell, the No. 14 seed in the region.

• Another bubble team makes the field -- Maryland is the No. 10 seed in the West Region and plays No. 10 seed California in Kansas City on Thursday.

• No. 2 seed Memphis awaits the Maryland/Cal winner, if the Tigers get past No. 15 seed Cal State Northridge in the first round.

• A tough first-round matchup for No. 6 seed Marquette, which has to play No. 11 seed Utah State. That might be a potential first-round upset on a lot of bracket predictions.

Looking at the Midwest Region

• Louisville is the No. 1 overall seed and gets a pretty big geographical break if it advances to the Sweet 16. The Cardinals would play their region semis and final in Indianapolis, which is pretty close to home. The Cards play the winner of the play-in game between Alabama State and Morehead State in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday.

• The first big shocker: Arizona is the No. 12 seed in the Midwest Region. The Wildcats keep alive their streak of 25 straight appearances in the NCAA. Arizona seemed to play its way out of the NCAA's 65-team field, especially after USC came out of nowhere to win the Pac-10 tournament title and the corresponding auto bid.

The Tigers will play No. 5 seed Utah on Friday in Miami.

• Arizona getting into the tournament can't leave teams like Minnesota, Maryland, Saint Mary's and Creighton feeling very good.

• The selection committee didn't do North Dakota State any favors in its first-ever appearance in the NCAA. The No. 14 seed Bison drew No. 3 seed Kansas, the defending national champions.

• A couple of other intriguing first-round games: No. 7 seed Boston College vs. No. 10 seed USC and No. 6 seed West Virginia playing No. 11 seed Dayton in Minneapolis.

• Michigan State is the No. 2 seed in the Midwest and would play Boston College or USC in the second round, and potentially Kansas or West Virginia in the Sweet 16. That isn't an easy path to Detroit.

The No. 1 seeds

• Louisville's the overall No. 1 seed (in the Midwest Region), which is deserving after the Cardinals won the Big East regular-season and tournament titles. It could have gone to North Carolina, the ACC champion, but the Tar Heels lost in the ACC tourney semis (playing without injured point guard Ty Lawson). Lawson's health might have played into the committee's decision.

The Cardinals won two titles in the country's best conference, so it's hard to argue they shouldn't be No. 1. Louisville also gets to play close to home in Indianapolis if they make the Sweet 16.

• Pitt is the No. 1 seed in the East Region and would play in Boston. The Tar Heels are the No. 1 seed in the South and would play in Memphis.

• UConn was a somewhat surprising choice as the fourth No. 1 seed in the West Region. The Huskies struggled a little bit down the stretch after losing Jerome Dyson, but a couple of their losses came against Pitt. The Huskies won both of their national championships coming out of the West Region.

The No. 1 seed could have gone to Memphis, which won its fourth consecutive Conference USA tourney title and has won 25 games in a row -- the longest winning streak in the country by any team this season.

• Keep an eye on these teams sitting on the bubble. They might be battling for two at-large spots:

Penn State
San Diego State
South Carolina
Saint Mary's

Setting up the scene

OK, the NCAA tournament selection committee is only a few minutes away, so let's kick off the Motown Blog.

The most serious questions heading into the revealing of the NCAA brackets:

1. Who are the No. 1 seeds? Louisville, North Carolina and Pitt seem to be pretty safe bets, but either Connecticut or Memphis could grab the fourth top line in the bracket.

2. What impact will Mississippi State's victory in the SEC championship game have on the bracket? Somebody is going to get bumped out of the 65-team field after the Bulldogs grabbed the SEC's auto bid. Will it be Saint Mary's? Creighton? Maryland?

3. Which teams get the dangerous 5-12 matchups and 6-10 games?

They'll start showing us the brackets in just a few minutes, here we go ...

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball



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