Florida, Kansas Join Top Seeds in NCAA's Round of 16
The men's national college basketball tournament heads into its second week without any teams seeded 10th or worse for the first time in 12 years.
The University of Florida and the University of Kansas both won second-round games yesterday, putting all four of the tournament's No. 1 seeds into the final 16 for the third straight year. The lowest-seeded school left in the regional semifinals is the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, which is the seventh seed in the Midwest Regional.
The last time the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, which is split into four 16-team regions, didn't have at least one team seeded 10 to 14 in the third round was 1995. George Mason University reached the Final Four of last year's tournament as an 11th seed.
``George Mason making the run that they did woke up some of these giants,'' Winthrop coach Gregg Marshall said at a news conference after his 11th-seeded Eagles lost to Oregon in the second round.
Florida, the top seed in the Midwest Regional, beat No. 8 Purdue 74-67 yesterday to move one step closer to becoming the first school to repeat as NCAA champion since Duke in 1991-92. The Gators (31-5) head to the regional semifinals in St. Louis to play fifth-seeded Butler (29-6) on March 23.
Kansas, the No. 1 seed in the West, was an 88-76 winner over No. 8 Kentucky yesterday and moves into the regional semifinals in San Jose, California. The Jayhawks (32-4) will face fourth-seeded Southern Illinois (29-6) on March 22.
No. 1 Seeds
North Carolina, the No. 1 team in the East, and Ohio State, the top seed in the South, reached the final 16 with wins two days ago. The Tar Heels (30-6) will be in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to play No. 5 Southern California (25-11) on March 23. The Trojans beat No. 4 Texas 87-68 yesterday.
The Buckeyes (32-3) meet fifth-seeded Tennessee (24-10) on March 22 in San Antonio after the Volunteers edged No. 4 Virginia 77-74 yesterday. Ohio State beat Tennessee 68-66 on Jan. 13 in Columbus behind 24 points and 15 rebounds by freshman center Greg Oden.
Also with Ohio State and Tennessee in the South Regional are No. 2 Memphis (32-3) and No. 3 Texas A&M (27-6). Memphis extended its winning streak to 24 games -- the longest in the nation -- with a 78-62 win yesterday over Nevada.
Joining North Carolina and USC in the East Regional are second-seeded Georgetown (28-6) and No. 6 Vanderbilt (22-11). Georgetown won at Vanderbilt 86-70 on Nov. 15.
UNLV is the lowest seeded team left in the field after upsetting No. 2 Wisconsin 74-68 yesterday to reach the third round for the first time since 1991. The Rebels (30-6) join Florida and Butler in St. Louis and will play on March 23rd against third-seeded Oregon (28-7), which ended Winthrop's postseason run with a 75-61 victory. Winthrop upset Notre Dame in its opening game for the school's first NCAA tournament win.
The top four seeds in the West all reached the regional semifinals, with Kansas and Southern Illinois joined by No. 2 UCLA (28-5) and No. 3 Pittsburgh (29-7). UCLA's Ben Howland coached Pitt from 1999-2003.
The regional winners advance to the Final Four on March 31 in Atlanta, where the championship game is set for April 2.