Auburn players tried to play it cool when the Tigers’ first NCAA Tournament invite in 15 years became official. Even as an auditorium full of athletic department staffers and fans cheered the program’s first berth since 2003, players remained seated.
“They want to act like they’ve been there before even if they’ve never been there before,” Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said, adding the old-hat response was guard Mustapha Heron’s idea.
Fourth-seeded Auburn will open against No. 13 seed Charleston in San Diego.
The Tigers won their first Southeastern Conference regular-season title since 1999 despite the season-long absence of post players Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley during an internal investigation into the program.
Nashville may as well be renamed South Cincinnati for at least one week.
Both of Cincinnati’s college basketball powers, Xavier and Cincinnati, will be opening the NCAA Tournament in Nashville. Cincinnati’s about a four-hour drive from Nashville.
Xavier is the No. 1 seed in the West Regon and will face North Carolina Central or Texas Southern in its opening game Friday. Cincinnati is the No. 2 seed in the South Region and will face Georgia State on Friday.
The other games in Nashville are Nevada-Texas and Missouri-Florida State.
Rick Barnes is heading back to where he spent a good chunk of his career.
Tennessee earned the No. 3 seed in the South Region and will face No. 14 seed Wright State in its opening game in Dallas. Barnes coached just down the interstate at Texas from 1998-2015, and made the NCAA Tournament in all but one of his 17 seasons with the Longhorns.
Vols fans had been hoping their impressive season would get them assigned to Nashville, about a three-hour drive from their Knoxville campus. One of the teams going to Nashville instead is Texas, which got the No. 10 seed in the South.
Davidson’s run to the Atlantic 10 Tournament title apparently stole a bid that otherwise would have gone to Notre Dame.
Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen, the chair of the Division I men’s basketball committee, said on the TBS studio show announcing the NCAA Tournament brackets that the Fighting Irish were the last team left out of the field.
Davidson almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten an at-large bid, but it got into the field by upsetting Rhode Island in the A-10 final. Rhode Island wound up getting the at-large bid that would have gone to Bonzie Colson and the Fighting Irish.
Michigan State is staying home as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, where the Spartans will open against 14th-seeded Bucknell at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
Michigan State (29-4) won the Big Ten regular season championship and lost in its tournament semifinals to rival Michigan, which handed the Spartans two of their four losses.
The Spartans are in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st consecutie year.
Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo always says he hopes to “win the weekend” in the NCAA Tournament. He hasn’t been able to do that the past two years, getting knocked out in first and second rounds.
Izzo clearly knows how to win this time of year, though. He’s won 47 NCAA Tournament games, a total that ties John Wooden for seventh on the all-time list.
North Carolina’s resume earned the reigning national champion Tar Heels a No. 2 seed and a home-state opener despite having 10 losses.
The Tar Heels (25-10) open Friday in the West Region against 15-seed Lipscomb in Charlotte.
UNC is 33-1 in NCAA Tournament games in its home state, with the only loss in 1979.
The Tar Heels entered Sunday fourth in RPI and had a nation-best 14 Quadrant 1 wins, two more than any other team. That included two wins over Duke, a win at Tennessee, a home win against eventual Big Ten Tournament champ Michigan and a neutral-court win against Ohio State.
UNC won nine of 11 games before falling to top-ranked Virginia in Saturday’s ACC title game.
The Midwest looks like the bracket of death with No. 1 seed Kansas opening up in Wichita. The No. 2 seed is Duke, with Michigan State at No. 3. Those three have combined for 39 Final Four appearances.
Oh, and Auburn is the No. 4 seed after earning the top seed in the SEC Tournament.
The first four teams out of the field were Baylor, Saint Mary’s, USC and Notre Dame, while the Fighting Irish and Bonzie Colson were left out when Davidson won its conference tournament and forced Rhode Island into taking an at-large bid.
Syracuse was the last team into the field.
The No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament are Virginia, Villanova, Kansas and Xavier with the top-ranked Cavaliers getting preferential seeding in the South Region.
The first four games in Dayton, Ohio,will be LIU-Brooklyn against Radford and St. Bonaventure against UCLA on Tuesday night, and North Carolina Central against Texas Southern and Arizona State against Syracuse on Wednesday night.
Among the intriguing early matchups is No. 8 seed Creighton and its star, Marcus Foster, against ninth-seeded Kansas State. Foster began his career with the Wildcats.
Bubble bursts. Here’s who is out of the 68-team field:
Notre Dame had a seven-game losing streak while preseason All-American Bonzie Colson was out injured and couldn’t do enough by the time he returned.
Louisville had a chaotic season mired by the firings of coach Rick Pitino and AD Tom Jurich amid the FBI case.
Saint Mary’s lacked high-quality victories, but it’s tough on a West Coast Conference team to get those opportunities.
Nebraska won 22 games and went 13-5 in Big Ten, but was 1-6 against quadrant-1 teams.
Oklahoma State beat Kansas twice and had victories against Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Cowboys also lost an assistant coach in the FBI scandal.
Baylor lost four of five down the stretch to play itself out.
Middle Tennessee made its first Top 25 appearance and dominated the Conference USA regular season, but came up short in the conference tournament.
USC was seeded second in the Pac-12 Tournament and lost the conference final.
The Atlantic Coast Conference leads the way with nine teams in the field.
There will be a couple of major differences for the NCAA Tournament selection show.
First, it will be broadcast by TBS, not CBS, the longtime network home of the tournament. CBS and Turner Sports have partnered on the tournament since 2011, but this is the first time the selection show will be on the cable-only network. It still starts at 6 p.m. EDT.
Second, the show will begin with all 68 teams revealed before they bracket is fille and matchups unveiled. TBS and CBS officials have said that will happen in the first 10 minutes of the show.
That means bubble teams such as Louisville, Arizona State, Syracuse and Saint Mary’s won’t have quite as long to find out whether they are in or out of the field of 68.
Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament is here and teams sweating out the wait until the brackets are revealed got bad news from the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Davidson beat Rhode Island in the A-10 tournament championship game Sunday to steal an at-large bid. Top-seeded and No. 25 Rhode Island looked like a lock to get into the field of 68 no matter what happened Sunday. But Davidson’s only hope was to win the conference tournament _ and Stephen Curry’s alma mater did just that. For bubble teams such as Arizona State, Louisville, Syracuse, Baylor, Marquette and St. Mary’s, that’s a problem.
Penn won the Ivy League to earn an automatic bid Sunday, and so did Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference.