How close were the Arizona Wildcats to playing in the NIT?
They were the only at-larges seeded on the 12 line, but NCAA Tournament chairman Mike Slive wouldn’t say whether UA was the last at-large team chosen.
“We don’t keep track of who’s last,” Slive said. “This is the most gutwrenching moment of five long days.”
Slive said the committee traditionally looks at about eight teams for the final slots “when it gets down to making this agonizing decision.”
Vitale vs. Bilas on Gaels
Arizona sneaking into the tournament sparked quite a debate among television analysts – especially on ESPN.
Sunday morning, Digger Phelps argued for Arizona’s inclusion into the bracket. But Joe Lunardi, who does the ESPN brackets, starting as early as the day after one year’s Final Four looking ahead to the next, had Arizona out.
And after the draw, Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale had a testy tiff.
“I’m a little surprised Arizona got in,” Vitale said. “St. Mary’s, it’s heartbreak hotel . . . they got a raw deal. The (NCAA selection) committee went for the power conferences instead of rewarding the little Davids. I feel bad for Saint Mary’s, I think they belong in the tournament.”
Vitale was speaking via satellite. Bilas, in the ESPN studio, said to Vitale, “You think Saint Mary’s is better than Arizona? Saint Mary’s would win, head to head?”
Vitale said, “Yeah, I really do.”
From there the arguments became harder to decipher because Bilas and Vitale talked at the same time. Bilas said Saint Mary’s needed to schedule more big-time programs such as Gonzaga. Vitale said the Gaels tried and couldn’t.
“You’re wrong,” Bilas said.
Vitale said to do that, St. Mary’s would have to play twice away to get one game at home.
“Then you go to their place,” Bilas said.
Finally a red-faced Vitale told Bilas, “You win. You went to Duke, I didn’t.”
Now that was fun.
UCLA has tough draw
Seth Davis said it once, twice, three times. Virginia Commonwealth, seeded 11th, is going to beat sixth-seeded UCLA on Thursday in a first-round NCAA East Regional game in Philadelphia.
So take that, Bruins.
It would have made for much better television if UCLA Coach Ben Howland allowed television cameras to witness his team watch NCAA Selection Sunday. First up for the Bruins will be VCU, which is about a four-hour drive from Philadelphia, then maybe third-seeded Villanova, which happens to be located in . . . Philadelphia. One suspects the Bruins didn’t let out any enthusiastic whoops over that draw.
And it is emotion that makes Selection Sunday so fabulous. The Memphis Tigers as a group barely lifted a head, a finger, uttered a fake-happy cheer, when their No. 2 seed was revealed. Dissed again was what every expression in that room said.
It seemed as if the entire state of North Dakota was in the room where the North Dakota State officially received its first tournament bid.
Few spots for mid-majors
Although former champions Kentucky and Florida missed the NCAA tournament in historic fashion, schools from the non-power conferences suffered the deepest disappointment Sunday when the 65-team field was announced.
Of the 34 at-large berths available, 30 went to programs from the six largest conferences, continuing a trend that has seen the number of midmajor schools in the tournament dwindle since the high-water mark earlier this decade.
Midmajors earned 10 at-large bids in 2003 and 12 in 2004. Since then, the number had fallen to nine, six and six before Sunday.
“We look at teams, not at conferences,” said Slive, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and chairman of the Division I men’s basketball committee.
Xavier and Dayton from the Atlantic 10 Conference, Butler from the Horizon and Brigham Young from the Mountain West were the only mid-major schools to receive at-large bids.
Saint Mary’s (West Coast), Creighton (Missouri Valley) and San Diego State (Mountain West) were among those left on the outside.
Tar Heels an early favorite
LAS VEGAS – Nevada sports books have picked North Carolina as a slight favorite to win the NCAA tournament this year, assuming point guard Ty Lawson is OK to play.
Oddsmaker Dan O’Brien of Las Vegas Sports Consultants says the Tar Heels will likely get 5-2 odds in many books, or may be 2-1 favorites in casinos where many bettors have gambled on them.
North Carolina is a 4-to-1 choice, according to Keith Glantz and Russell Culver.
O’Brien says that without Lawson, who sat out of the ACC tournament last week, the Tar Heels would probably be underdogs compared with Louisville and Pittsburgh.
O’Brien says the No. 1 seeds will be considered slightly better this year than in past years.
The Associated Press
Strength of schedule, quality wins aided Cats
Re: UA makes NCAA Tournament for 25th straight year
• The Cats have no business being in the tourney this year. They don’t deserve this bid. UA will be one and done.
• How they got in is beyond me, but I’m happy for the team. Let’s hope Chase shows up and the coaches use the bench.
• If you look at the “bubble teams” and with an “open mind” and sort everything out, you will see that Arizona does belong.
JUST A FAN
• I love the cats as much or more than anyone else (I have the Wildcat logo tattooed on my body), but they don’t deserve to be in this year. I feel bad for teams like San Diego State and Creighton that didn’t make it.
• I feel bad for a couple of teams, but Arizona deserved it as much as Wisconsin. It is a weird thing, but UA can beat any No. 1 seed on any given day, and can lose to any No. 16 seed.
• The new season begins for the Cats on Friday. Let’s get going. Utes will fall first!
• I knew they had the numbers and a better overall body of work than most of the bubble teams.
Was really sweating after (Tennessee’s) J.P. Prince missed that free throw and Mississippi State got the automatic bid in the SEC.
• Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA, Washington. Those teams are all well seeded in the dance and the Cats beat each of them!
• I knew they were in, quality wins, and a decent strength of schedule. Pac-10 will have a better showing than the Big Ten again.
L Southwest Baptist 80-79
W Wisconsin-Green Bay 79-60
W Mississippi 83-72
W Morgan State 66-37
W at Missouri State 71-58
W Oregon 95-81
L at Idaho State 72-68
L California 72-69
L Oklahoma 70-52
W Weber State 74-64
L at Utah State 66-64
W UC Irvine 60-52
W Gonzaga 66-65
W Wyoming 91-67
W LSU 91-61
L at San Diego State 72-63
W at Air Force 57-36
W Colorado State 82-66
L at UNLV 75-65
W BYU 94-88
W New Mexico 69-68
W TCU 62-54
W at Wyoming 80-70
W San Diego State 67-55
W Air Force 74-59
W at Colorado State 89-79
W UNLV 70-60
L at BYU 63-50
L at New Mexico 77-71
W TCU 68-49
W TCU 61-58
W Wyoming 68-55
W San Diego State 52-50
By Citizen Staff Report, Wire Report