Sunday, March 14, 2010

'Hawks Rock Their Way To No. 1 Overall Seed

Led by Sherron Collins, Kansas enters NCAA Tournament as the #1 overall seed in the field of 65, and will play its first game against Lehigh in the Midwest Regional. (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News)

Two years removed from their first national championship since 1988, Kansas is once again the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets on the first Monday in April, as the Jayhawks were installed as the top overall seed in this year's NCAA Tournament. Kansas was revealed as the first team in just over an hour ago on this "Selection Sunday," and will kick off the tournament against Patriot League champion Lehigh in their first-round matchup out of the Midwest regional. Kentucky, (East) Syracuse, (West) and Duke (South) are the other three top seeds, the Blue Devils receiving the last vote over Big East tournament champion West Virginia, the No. 2 seed in the East. The Mountaineers are one of eight Big East teams in the field of 65, once again the most of any conference participating in the tournament.

As usual, the selection committee threw quite a few curves in this year's edition of the "Big Dance," namely making Villanova a 2 seed in the South regional despite the Wildcats losing six of their last ten games after starting 9-0 in Big East play. Also, the Big Ten has a legitimate gripe this year, with Purdue (ranked fifth in the country going into today) being relegated to a 4 seed in the South, and Michigan State (ranked 11th) a 5 in the star-studded Midwest. The Spartans face a potential second-round matchup with Maryland, not to mention Kansas and either Georgetown or Ohio State in the regionals should Tom Izzo's team advance that far.

The selection was also filled with surprise entries, namely former two-time national champion Florida, back in the field for the first time since repeating as champions in 2007. The Gators join Wake Forest as unlikely participants in the tournament, bursting the bubbles of teams such as Illinois and Mississippi State after those two teams made valiant efforts in their conference tournaments, the Bulldogs almost defeating Kentucky in this afternoon's SEC championship game. Virginia Tech is also on the outside looking in despite having a better record than fellow ACC schools Wake Forest and Clemson, both of whom are among the six ACC programs in the tournament.

Check back for detailed previews of each regional between now and tipoff of Tuesday night's play-in game between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop, with the winner of that contest advancing to face Duke in the South regional.

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