By: Andrew Kahn
Yesterday was a relatively drama-free Selection Sunday. Joe Lunardi was a perfect 68 for 68, as Middle Tennessee State, St. Mary’s, Boise State, and La Salle claimed the final spots in the field. Louisville, Gonzaga, Kansas, and Indiana earned the top seeds. And now, what every college hoops fan has been waiting for: the Big Dance. The play-in games start tomorrow, with the real Madness starting on Thursday.
Goodbye, Big East
For the second year in a row, Peyton Siva won the Big East Tournament MVP, as Louisville won the league’s tournament in the final year of the Big East as we know it. The Cardinals earned the Tournament’s overall No. 1 seed. They look the part of a champion right now, having won 10 in a row and causing havoc with their defense. Russ Smith’s performance in New York, despite the passing of his beloved high school coach, was inspiring.
Buckeyes win Big Ten
Like Louisville, No. 10 Ohio State enters the Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, having won eight straight. The Buckeyes marched through Nebraska, Michigan State, and Wisconsin to claim the Big Ten Tournament title in Chicago and get a two seed in the Big Dance. They’ll face high-scoring Iona out of the MAAC on Round One; a win there would set up a meeting against the winner of Notre Dame-Iowa State, with both games in Dayton.
On top of the Mountain
In a very competitive Mountain West, New Mexico pulled off the sweep, winning the regular season and tournament titles. They beat UNLV 63-56 on Saturday night. Tony Snell, a tough matchup at 6’7”, hit 5 of 7 three pointers and finished with 21 points. The Lobos have size, athleticism, and play very good defense. They got the 3 seed out West; if they beat Harvard they’ll face the Arizona-Belmont winner in Salt Lake City.
West Coast blues
Last year the Pac-12’s regular season champion didn’t even get an NCAA Tournament bid, as only two teams from the league made the field. This season the committee showed more disrespect, giving tournament champ Oregon a 12 seed, and offering the conference nothing better than a 6 seed. Two schools do get to play in San Jose, including Cal, which gets a rematch with UNLV, a team that beat the Bears in Berkeley in December.
For the first time ever, a team that won the ACC regular season and tournament titles did not receive a No. 1 seed. Miami, which double-dipped on Sunday with a 10-point win over North Carolina, got the 2 seed in the East, where Indiana will potentially await in the regional final. Shane Larkin had 28 points and seven assists in the championship game.
Andrew Kahn is a contributor to CBS Local who has written for ESPN the Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about college basketball and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.