March 12, 2006
VOLS EARN NO. 2 SEED, PLAY WINTHROP THURSDAY IN GREENSBORO
The Tennessee Volunteers (21-7, 12-4 Southeastern Conference) were selected as a No. 2 seed in the Washington, D.C., region where they face the Winthrop Eagles of the Big South Conference in Greensboro, N.C., in the first round beginning Thursday, March 16. This is UT's 14th NCAA appearance and first since 2001. It is also their highest seed ever, bettering the No. 4 seed achieved three times, most recently in 2000 when the Vols advanced to the Sweet 16. The Vols own an 8-14 tournament record. Game time is at 2:40 p.m. ET on CBS.
Tennessee is 1-0 against Winthrop, having defeated the Eagles, 75-62, in 1997. Winthrop won both the regular season and Big South Conference tournament titles.
Also in UT's bracket is a possible second round matchup against the winner of the No. 7 seed Wichita State and No. 10 Seton Hall. The Vols last played Wichita State in 1990 in the Rainbow Classic, dropping a 77-73 decision. Tennessee is 2-1 against Seton Hall, having lost a 72-64 game in the 1992 Preseason NIT in the last meeting.
The Vols played nine teams in the field, going 6-5. They went 1-0 vs. Texas, South Alabama, Murray State, 2-0 vs. Florida, 1-1 vs. Kentucky, 0-1 against Memphis, Alabama, Arkansas and LSU.
UT played five regular-season conference champions, going 4-1. They were Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun), Texas (Big 12), Memphis (Conference USA), Murray State (Ohio Valley) while South Alabama captured the Sun Belt West Division.
Head coach Bruce Pearl is making his 12 NCAA Tournament appearance in 14 seasons and first with Tennessee. He owns a 2-2 record in the Division I Tournament, including a Sweet 16 apperance with Wisconsin-Milwaukee last year. He led the Vols to the SEC Eastern Division title this season.
Duke was selected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for a record-tying 10th time Sunday, while Connecticut and Villanova led the Big East's unprecedented eight teams in the field with top seeds of their own.
Memphis was the final No. 1 chosen among tournament's 65 teams.
Duke's 10th No. 1 selection matched North Carolina for the most ever. It is Connecticut's fourth top seeding and the first time for both Villanova and Memphis.
Eight Big East teams broke the conference's own previous record of seven, which it had shared with the Big Ten. The Big East did it in 1991; the Big Ten in 1990, 1994, 1999 and 2001.
This year's bracket features six teams each from the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference. The Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Missouri Valley and Pac-10 each had four teams chosen.
Among the teams which had been mentioned as possible at-large teams but weren't selected were Cincinnati, Creighton, Florida State, Hofstra, Maryland, Michigan and Missouri State.
Duke (30-3), assigned to the Atlanta regional, will open the tournament Thursday near home in Greensboro, N.C., against Southern University. Also at Greensboro, eighth-seeded George Washington (26-2), the only Division I team with less than three losses, faces ninth-seeded North Carolina-Wilmington.
The other teams in that part of the bracket will play at Jacksonville, Fla., with fifth-seeded Syracuse, the upset winner of the Big East tournament, against 12th-seeded Texas A&M, and fourth-seeded LSU facing Iona.
Texas is the No. 2 seed in the Atlanta regional. The Longhorns, who lost to Kansas in the Big 12 tournament championship game Sunday, will play Pennsylvania in Dallas in a doubleheader with seventh-seeded California against 10th-seeded North Carolina State.
The other games in that regional are at Auburn Hills, Mich., with sixth-seeded West Virginia against No. 11 Southern Illinois and third-seeded Iowa, the Big Ten champions, against No. 14 Northwestern State.
Memphis (30-3), which lost just one game in Conference USA this season, heads the Oakland Regional and will play Oral Roberts, which was last in the tournament in 1984, at Dallas in the first round.
The other game in that doubleheader will have eighth-seeded Arkansas against No. 9 Bucknell, which had the upset of last year's tournament, beating Kansas in the first round.
At Auburn Hills, fourth-seeded Kansas will play Bradley, while fifth-seeded Pittsburgh faces No. 12 Kent State.
UCLA was the No. 2 seed in the regional and the Pac-10 champions will play Belmont, making its NCAA debut, at San Diego and seventh-seeded Marquette faces No. 10 Alabama.
At Salt Lake City, third-seeded Gonzaga goes against Atlantic-10 champion Xavier and sixth-seeded Indiana, playing under lame duck coach Mike Davis, plays San Diego State.
Connecticut, along with Duke the only teams to be ranked No. 1 this season, is the top seed in the Washington Regional. The Huskies (27-3), who were beaten by Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals, will play Albany, which is making its first appearance, in Philadelphia. The other game in that doubleheader has eighth-seeded Kentucky against No. 9 UAB. Those teams met in the second round in 2004, with the Blazers stunning top-seeded Kentucky.
Washington, the fifth seed in the regional, plays Utah State in San Diego, while No. 4 Illinois, which lost in the championship game last season, faces No. 13 Air Force, one of the surprise at-large picks in the field.
Tennessee was the second seed and the Volunteers will play Winthrop in Greensboro, where No. 7 Wichita State will face 10th-seeded Seton Hall. At Dayton, defending champion North Carolina is the third seed against Murray State, while sixth-seeded Michigan State goes against George Mason, which will play the game without suspended guard Tony Skinn.
Villanova (24-4) is the top seed in the Minneapolis Regional. The Wildcats will open in their home city of Philadelphia against the winner of Tuesday night's opening-round game between Monmouth and Hampton. The other game in that doubleheader has eighth-seeded Arizona against No. 9 Wisconsin.
This will be the 27th tournament for Arizona coach Lute Olson, tying him with Dean Smith and Bob Knight for the most in NCAA history. It is Olson's 22nd straight appearance with Arizona, moving him within one of Smith's record set at North Carolina from 1975-97.
At Salt Lake City, fourth-seeded Boston College, which finished tied for second in its first season in the ACC, plays 13th-seeded Pacific and fifth-seeded Nevada faces No. 12 Montana.
Ohio State is the second seed and the Buckeyes play No. 15 Davisdon in Dayton and No. 7 Georgetown faces Northern Iowa. The doubleheader at Jacksonville has third-seeded Florida, which repeated as Southeastern Conference tournament champions on Sunday, against No. 14 South Alabama, and sixth-seeded Oklahoma against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which reached the third round last season.
The Final Four is April 1 and 3 in Indianapolis.