Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Mar 16 2015, Page 25

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - March 16, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C7 winnipegfreepress. com MARCH MADNESS WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2015 C 7 T HE Kentucky Wildcats ended up where everyone expected them on Selection Sunday: Seeded No. 1 on their quest to become the first undefeated team since 1976. Oh, but there were surprises when the NCAA Tournament bracket came out, too. Big- conference UCLA and Texas made it. Colorado State and Temple did not. Wisconsin is a No. 1 seed for the first time in program history. But the Badgers must play in the West Region, where second- seeded Arizona is certain to draw more fans. As for those play- in games that start Tuesday in Dayton. Well, one of the teams playing is Dayton — a No. 11 seed that will have a distinct homecourt advantage Wednesday night against Boise State. Generally, that’s not allowed during the tournament, but there’s an exception because the committee said the Flyers were the last team in the 68- team field, and thus, had to play in the opening- round game. “ It falls within our policies and procedures,” selection committee chairman Scott Barnes said. “ It’s obviously a home- court advantage but we didn’t waver from that decision.” Fans have a few days to fill out their brackets ( Sorry, no billion- dollar prize available for a perfect one this year), then the action starts in full on Thursday, when Kentucky headlines the slate against the winner of a play- in game between No. 16 seeds Manhattan and Hampton. A ‘ 1’ has never lost to a ‘ 16.’ The other No. 1 seeds were Villanova in the East and Duke in the South. Those were pretty easy picks. And then there was the total nobrainer — placing Kentucky at the very top of the bracket. The Wildcats defeated Arkansas 78- 63 Sunday to improve to 34- 0. If they win six more, they’ll become the first team since then 1975- 76 Indiana Hoosiers to go undefeated. “ I think I have the best team and the best players,” said coach John Calipari, trying to lead the program to its ninth national title. “ Does that mean we’ll win? No, it doesn’t.” The Wildcats are even- money picks in Las Vegas to win it all, and at least one coach, Bill Self of Kansas, thinks that might be a bargain. “ I shouldn’t be talking about Vegas, but my point is, I think they’re a pretty heavy favourite,” said Self, whose Jayhawks are seeded No. 2 in the Midwest. Other No. 2 seeds are Gonzaga in the South and Virginia in the East. Barnes said Arizona and Virginia were the other teams in the mix for the top seed. He defended placing Duke there, saying the Blue Devils’ road wins over Virginia, North Carolina and Louisville carried more weight than their lack of a conference title. “ Those strong, very elite wins, wins on the road — and let’s not forget the eye test with Duke — all were considerations,” he said. Barnes called placing UCLA in the bracket “ one of the tougher decisions we had to make.” But he defended putting the Bruins ( 20- 13) in with an RPI of 48, which is 18 spots lower than Colorado State and 14 below Temple. “ We felt they were gaining steam,” Barnes said. “ They did have a good strength- of- schedule, they were playing better against tough competition. An example is the last game against Arizona ( a 70- 64 loss in the Pac- 12 title game). I think the ‘ eye test’ was also a plus in putting them in the field.” The Big Ten and Big 12 led the way with seven teams each in the bracket. Other teams that just missed were Old Dominion and Richmond, which lost out to teams such as Ole Miss and Texas that have stronger schedules baked into the cake because they play in major conferences. As is custom, Barnes was short on specifics, though he said Wyoming’s surprise victory in the Mountain West Conference stole away an at- large bid that would’ve gone to Temple — the last team out. The next team out was Colorado State. Rams coach Larry Eutaschy broke away from his team’s “ viewing party” to make a brief statement. “ They are devastated, and they should be, because they are certainly an NCAA Tournament team,” Eustachy said. The bracket includes its usual share of quirks and tear- jerkers. Among them: — UCLA’s first game is against SMU, coached by Larry Brown, the turnaround artist who is taking his third team to the NCAA Tournament. The first team? UCLA, of course. — Georgia State coach Ron Hunter watched the bracket unveiling with his left foot in a cast. He tore his Achilles’ tendon while celebrating his program’s first trip to the tournament since 2001. The 14th- seeded Panthers open against Baylor. — The Associated Press Kentucky king- sized favourite .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 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Pundits pick 34- 0 Wildcats to emerge from March Madness By Eddie Pells MARK CORNELISON / LEXINGTON HERALD- LEADER FILES Kentucky’s Willie Cauley- Stein ( 15) lays in a shot over Arkansas’ Bobby Portis in the second half at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday. The host Wildcats won 84- 67. ‘ I think I have the best team and the best players. Does that mean we’ll win? No, it doesn’t’ — Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari PRESIDENT Barack Obama fills one out, so does just about everyone you know. Yes, the NCAA Tournament begins this week and that means it’s bracketpicking time. We’re here to help make sense of March Madness. We want to provide you some insight on the 68 teams that were slotted into four regional brackets for the annual sports spectacle that culminates in Indianapolis on April 7. However, be advised most people win bracket contests by picking the better mascot or team colour, so use the following information with caution. MIDWEST REGION FAVOURITE : Kentucky gets to open with either Manhattan — coached by Steve Masiello, who played for the Wildcats — or Hampton, which got in by winning the Mid- Eastern title with a 16- 17 record. UPSET WATCH : Many will pick 12th- seeded Buffalo over 5th- seeded West Virginia, with good reason. First of all, the Bulls are coached by Bobby Hurley, who went 18- 2 in NCAA Tournament games when he starred at Duke. Plus, it’s only a five- hour drive from Buffalo to Columbus, Ohio, so Bulls fans will travel well. ( Then again, Ohio State made that same drive to Buffalo last year and lost to the University of Dayton, prompting one of the greatest front- page headlines in Dayton Daily News history.) THEY MIGHT DO IT : Butler was picked seventh in the Big East, changed coaches unexpectedly and then gave Chris Holtmann the job on a permanent basis. They’ll have to beat two big- name programs in Texas and ( probably) Notre Dame, but why not? WORTH NOTING : Wichita State won’t be happy about its No. 7 seed. Indiana will be ecstatic to just get in as a 10th- seed. Upset watch here, too. SEMIFINALISTS : Kentucky, Kansas, Maryland, Butler. TITLE GAME : Kentucky vs. Kansas. It’s a rematch of a game from Nov. 18, when Kentucky won 72- 40. This one will be closer, but not much. TO THE FINAL FOUR : Kentucky. EAST REGION FAVOURITE : Villanova, which opens with Lafayette in an all- Pennsylvania matchup. Villanova and Lafayette are barely an hour apart, and they play in Pittsburgh — basically 4 ½ hours from both schools. UPSET WATCH : Take a flyer on 13thseeded UC- Irvine ( and 7- 6 Mamadou Ndiaye) against fourth- seeded Louisville. One, it’s cool to always pick teams with nicknames like Anteaters. Two, Louisville is only 5- 5 in its last 10 games and just doesn’t look as good as it did a few weeks ago, for many reasons. AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE : The Great Danes will have fans from Albany ( their city) to Australia ( which may as well be their adopted country). Peter Hooley left the team for a few weeks to go back to his native Australia and spend as much time as he could with his mother, who died of cancer. He then returned to Albany... and hits the 3- pointer with about two seconds left to put his team in the tournament. It’ll be daunting to face third- seeded Oklahoma, but New York’s Capital Region loves NCAA magic ( see Siena). WORTH NOTING : Tom Izzo’s seventh- seeded Michigan State team could see second- seeded Virginia this weekend. Never count out Izzo in the NCAAs, ever... Dayton gets a home game in the play- in against Boise State. SEMIFINALISTS : Villanova, Virginia, Northern Iowa, Providence. TO THE FINAL FOUR : Villanova. WEST REGION FAVORITE: Wisconsin, which could see Oregon in its second game ( a rematch of a 2- 7 game last season, won by the Badgers 85- 77) but should escape the first weekend pretty easily. UPSET WATCH : 13th- seeded Harvard over fourth- seeded North Carolina is tempting, but we’ll go really off the board. Kevin Ware ( you remember the young man who broke his leg playing for Louisville) is in the field with Georgia State, a 14th- seed taking on third- seeded Baylor. If you believe in made- for- Hollywood stuff... NEVER YIELD : Arkansas is probably the best No. 5 seed in the tourney. WORTH NOTING : BYU has the triple- double machine in Kyle Collingsworth, with six of them already this season. The rest of Division I basketball — combined — has 11. SEMIFINALISTS : Wisconsin, Arizona, Arkansas, Xavier. TO THE FINAL FOUR : Wisconsin. SOUTH REGION FAVORITE : Duke. The Blue Devils might see North Florida in their first game; North Florida won the Atlantic Sun, the team whose champion ( Mercer) ousted Duke last year in Game 1. UPSET WATCH : UCLA was maybe the most questionable pick of all the at- large teams. Watch the 11th- ranked Bruins now knock out sixth- ranked SMU... coached by Larry Brown... who used to coach at UCLA. Of course. MAGIC McCAFFERY : Fran Mc- Caffery has done a fine job at Iowa this season, and gets rewarded with a opening game against Davidson in a 7- 10 matchup. But if the Hawkeyes survive that one, they figure to have a shot — even in Seattle — of taking down second- seeded Gonzaga. The Zags have been two- and- out in the NCAAs in each of the last five years. WORTH NOTING : Duke’s opening game will be the Devils’ 22nd in North Carolina this season. SEMIFINALISTS : Duke, Iowa State, Utah, Iowa. TO THE FINAL FOUR : Duke. Final Four Yes, we picked four No. 1 seeds. Kentucky over Wisconsin, Villanova over Duke. Your national champion: In an all- Wildcat battle... Kentucky. — The Associated Press Picking bracket winners pure, dumb luck By Tim Reynolds C_ 07_ Mar- 16- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C7 3/ 15/ 15 10: 46: 51 PM

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