NCAA Tournament begins with opening-round game Tuesday

Updated: March 15, 2005, 1:10 PM ET
SportsTicker

DAYTON, Ohio - The opening-round game for the NCAA Tournament will be held Tuesday night with top-seeded North Carolina awaiting the winner.

Alabama AM (18-13), the regular season and tournament champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, is matched against Oakland (Michigan), the NCAA Tournament's lone sub-.500 team at 12-18, in Tuesday's contest.

North Carolina (27-4), Illinois (32-1), Duke (25-5) and Washington (27-5) are the top seeds. Placed in the Syracuse Region, North Carolina will face the survivor of the play-in game Friday afternoon in Charlotte.

Alabama AM is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since joining Division I in 1999. Obie Trotter scored 24 points on 8-of-10 shooting from 3-point range to lead the Bulldogs to a 72-53 victory over Alabama State in the SWAC title game on Sunday.

The NCAA berth highlights a difficult season for Alabama AM coach Vann Pettaway, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last summer.

"These guys put it on the line for me this year, and they earned this reward," Pettaway said of his players.

Oakland, which is located in Rochester, Michigan, is also making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since joining Division I seven years ago.

"We're the only game on TV (Tuesday)," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "If we're fortunate enough to win, 5 million people are going to have to write our name on their brackets."

Oakland upset regular-season champion Oral Roberts, 61-60, last week in the Mid-Continent Conference championship game.

The Golden Grizzlies become the 19th team with a losing record to play in the NCAA Tournament. They opened the season with seven straight losses but played quality competition, including Illinois, Texas AM, Missouri and Xavier.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index