Ken­tucky, Syra­cuse are top picks for No. 1 seeds

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY EDDIE PELLS

Even the chair­man of the tight-lipped NCAA se­lec­tion com­mit­tee can’t deny this sim­ple fact: Head­ing into this week’s con­fer­ence tour­na­ments, there’s Ken­tucky and Syra­cuse, and then ev­ery­body else.

In a tele­con­fer­ence to pre­view Sun­day’s re­lease of the NCAA tour­na­ment pair­ings, com­mit­tee chair­man Jeff Hath­away all but handed two of the four top seeds to the Wild­cats and Orange, each of whom en­tered their con­fer­ence tour­na­ments with a record of 30-1.

“I think we all agree that if the sea­son ended to­day, we know who the two best teams are,” he said Wed­nes­day. “If you’re look­ing at 3 and 4 on the first line and the en­tire sec­ond line, we have the same hand­ful of teams in mind but where they would be laced will be a tremen­dous de­bate.”

Though Hath­away, the for­mer ath­letic di­rec­tor at de­fend­ing na­tional cham­pion Con­necti­cut, did not delve into specifics, among those lumped into con­sid­er­a­tion for the other top seeds are Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Mis­souri, Ohio State and Michi­gan State.

The brack­ets come out Sun­day evening, with the tour­na­ment start­ing Tues­day.

When Hath­away was pressed about his Ken­tucky-syra­cuse state­ment, he tried to back off.

“I don’t want to say any­one should feel se­cure,” he said. “If I did, those two coaches would get af­ter me and say we took away some mo­ti­va­tion.”

He said in­juries or a sus­pen­sion, each of which the com­mit­tee con­sid­ers when mak­ing up the bracket, could change the picture.

“The bot­tom line is, ev­ery­one to­day knows that if the sea­son ended, we would say those two teams are the best in the coun­try,” Hath­away said.

He in­di­cated the Big Ten, widely per­ceived as the strong­est con­fer­ence top to bot­tom this sea­son, would not re­ceive spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion for a top seed.

“The fact of the mat­ter is, con­fer­ence RPI and con­fer­ence rank­ings are not brought up in the rat­ing room at all,” Hath­away said, speak­ing to a change the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee made in the time since he joined five years ago.

He said the knee in­jury to fresh­man Bran­den Daw­son of Michi­gan State, deny­ing the Spar­tans of an eight-point, four-re­bound player as they head into the post­sea­son, could play into their seed­ing.

“The . . . great thing about this sit­u­a­tion is, we’re go­ing to have the abil­ity to see Michi­gan State play with­out him” in the Big Ten tour­na­ment, Hath­away said.

Hath­away said com­mit­tee mem­bers have been in­structed to look at teams on their own mer­its, with­out lump­ing them into the usual cat­e­gories mid­ma­jors vs. BCS or ‘power’-con­fer­ence teams.

The num­ber of mid­ma­jors that earn at-large bids is al­ways widely scru­ti­nized. Last year, there were seven, and VCU made the Final Four.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.