By Andrew Kahn
We will not have a repeat champion this year. While expected for much of the season, it became official yesterday, when Connecticut lost in the American Conference finals and was denied an at-large bid. That was no surprise, but some of the selection committee’s decisions were. As for the anticipated champion, it heads into the NCAA Tournament with no losses.
1. Kentucky Still Perfect
The Wildcats are 34-0 after manhandling Auburn and Arkansas over the weekend to win the SEC Tournament. Their unblemished record of course earned them the No. 1 overall seed in the Midwest, where the other top seeds were Kansas, Notre Dame, and Maryland. A potential match-up against Wisconsin or Arizona awaits in the Final Four. Kentucky will try to be the first team to run the table and win the NCAA Tournament since Indiana in 1976.
2. The Other ‘Ones’
Wisconsin and Villanova won both their regular season and tournament championships, in the Big Ten and Big East, respectively, and were rewarded with No. 1 seeds. The Badgers are in the West and Villanova heads to the East. Duke did not capture either crown in the ACC, but was still the top seed in the South, beating out Virginia, Arizona, Gonzaga, and Kansas.
3. Conference Tourney Champs
Notre Dame never reached the finals of the Big East Tournament but captured the ACC Tournament title in its second year in the league. In the semis, the Irish beat Duke for a second time and beat North Carolina for a second time in Saturday’s final. Down nine in the second half, Notre Dame went on a 26-3 run to take control. The Irish are the No. 3 seed in the Midwest. Iowa State overcame a 17-point second-half deficit against Kansas on Saturday to win the Big 12 championship. The Cyclones enter the Tournament on a five-game win streak despite having trailed by double digits in all of them.
4. The Madness
Stony Brook led for most of the America East final, including by seven with under three minutes left, but Albany’s Peter Hooley made a three with 1.6 seconds left to give the Great Danes a 51-50 victory and an NCAA Tournament berth. Albany, a 14 seed, will play Oklahoma. In the Ivy’s one-game playoff, Harvard beat Yale 53-51 on a jump shot by Steve Moundou-Missi with seven seconds left. Yale got a good look on its final possession, but the running bank shot rimmed out. Harvard is a 13 seed and will play North Carolina.
5. The Bubble
Georgia, UCLA, Indiana, Boise State, BYU, and Mississippi made the field, the latter three as part of the play-in games. Surprisingly, Dayton was assigned to a play-in game as well. The Flyers deserved a better seed, but they do get to play at home and, if they win, in nearby Columbus. Bubble teams that didn’t make the cut included Miami, Tulsa, Temple, Colorado State, and Murray State. They will have to settle for the NIT.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about college basketball and other sports at AndrewJKahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.