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Cavs Join Gators, ‘Cats, Shockers As No. 1 Seeds

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NCAA Bracket 2 AP

Arizona’s Nick Johnson, left, and UCLA’s Jordan Adams dive for a loose ball in the second half during the championship game of the NCAA Pac-12 conference college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 15, 2014, in Las Vegas. UCLA won 75-71. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The surprises start at the top of the NCAA tournament bracket: Virginia is a No. 1 seed.

Oh, some things went to form. Florida earned the top overall seed as expected and will be joined on the `1′ line by Wichita State and Arizona.  But there were head-scratchers nearly everywhere else.

Last year’s national champion, Louisville, was seeded fourth in the Midwest despite playing well enough to be considered a No. 1 by many. And speaking of the Midwest – Wichita State and Michigan are there as well, making it three of last year’s Final Four participants all vying for one spot this year.

SMU, the team led on a renaissance by coaching lifer Larry Brown – nowhere to be found.  And Michigan State, the team that geared things up in time to win the Big Ten tournament, is only a No. 4 seed.

The tournament begins Tuesday with a pair of First Four games, and things get going in earnest Thursday when 32 of the 64 teams in the main draw take to the floor.  The Final Four is set for April 5 and 7 in Arlington, Texas.

In the end, the individual matchups mean much more than the numbers by a team’s name. Still, some of the numbers the selection committee came up with this year were a bit puzzling – yet another reason Warren Buffett felt perfectly comfortable fronting the insurance money to pay a $1 billion prize to anyone who can fill out a perfect bracket.

Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, the chairman of the selection committee, said Virginia‘s twin ACC Championships – regular season and tournament – made the Cavaliers (28-6) the choice for a 1 seed over Michigan and Villanova, despite an RPI rating of 11.

“Virginia’s total resume was very impressive,” Wellman said. “They continued to impress us throughout the year.”

The last four bubble teams were 12th-seeded North Carolina State and Xavier, who play Tuesday, and 11th-seeded Iowa and Tennessee, who play Wednesday.

Sitting out was SMU – a team almost all the experts had securely in the bracket, but not the folks in the conference room, who couldn’t overcome the Mustangs’ strength of schedule: 129.

“When I saw Louisville (was a 4 seed), I kind of figured that they didn’t have a lot of respect for our conference,” Brown said. “But we only can blame ourselves, that’s the way I look at it.”

Led by Rick Pitino‘s Cardinals, the new American Athletic Conference placed four teams in the tournament.

And while the committee didn’t show much love for the AAC, it did dole out plenty of at-large spots to the big conferences, while only seven spots went to the mid-majors after they took 11 in each of the last two seasons.

In the South, Kansas got lots of talk about a possible 1 seed, but ended up a 2 in part because of those nine losses. The Jayhawks have to get through the first weekend without lottery-pick center Joel Embiid, out with a back injury, but could face a third-round game against New Mexico. The Mountain West Conference tournament champions got a surprisingly low 7 seed.

“There’s more good teams and less great teams,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “The difference between a 2 seed and a 7 or 8 seed is as narrow as it’s ever been.”

In the West, Arizona’s second game could come against eighth-seeded Gonzaga, which lost its second game as a No. 1 seed last year, or No. 9 Oklahoma State, which has one of the nation’s best players in Marcus Smart. The nation’s top scorer, Doug McDermott (26.9 points per game), is on the other side of that bracket with No. 3 Creighton.

On Virginia’s side of the East bracket are two teams nobody wants to play come tournament time – No. 4 Michigan State and Harvard. Yes, No. 12 Harvard, which shook things up last season by knocking out New Mexico for its first tournament win in 102 years of basketball

NCAA Tournament Glance
By The Associated Press

FIRST ROUND
At UD Arena
Dayton, Ohio
Tuesday, March 18

Albany (N.Y.) (18-14) vs. Mount St. Mary’s (16-16)

N.C. State (21-13) vs. Xavier (21-12)
Wednesday, March 19

Cal Poly (13-19) vs. Texas Southern (19-14)

Iowa (20-12) vs. Tennessee (21-12)
EAST REGIONAL
Second Round
Thursday, March 20
At First Niagara Center
Buffalo, N.Y.

Villanova (28-4) vs. Milwaukee (21-13)

UConn (26-8) vs. Saint Joseph’s (24-9)
At Spokane Arena
Spokane, Wash.

Michigan State (26-8) vs. Delaware (25-9)

Cincinnati (27-6) vs. Harvard (26-4)
Friday, March 21
At PNC Arena
Raleigh, N.C.

Virginia (28-6) vs. Coastal Carolina (21-12)

Memphis (23-9) vs. George Washington (24-8)
At The AT&T Center
San Antonio

Iowa State (26-7) vs. North Carolina Central (28-5)

North Carolina (23-9) vs. Providence (23-11)
Third Round
Saturday, March 22
At First Niagara Center
Buffalo, N.Y.

Villanova-Milwaukee winner vs. UConn-Saint Joseph’s winner
At Spokane Arena
Spokane, Wash.

Michigan State-Delaware winner vs. Cincinnati-Harvard winner
Sunday, March 23
At PNC Arena
Raleigh, N.C.

Virginia-Coastal Carolina winner vs. Memphis-George Washington winner
At The AT&T Center
San Antonio

Iowa State-North Carolina Central winner vs. North Carolina-Providence winner
Regional Semifinals
At Madison Square Garden
New York
Friday, March 28

Villanova-Milwaukee-UConn-Saint Joseph’s winner vs. Iowa State-North Carolina Central-North Carolina-Providence winner

Michigan State-Delaware-Cincinnati-Harvard winner vs. Virginia-Coastal Carolina-Memphis-George Washington winner
Regional Championship
Sunday, March 30

Semifinal winners
SOUTH REGIONAL
Second Round
Thursday, March 20
At First Niagara Center
Buffalo, N.Y.

Syracuse (27-5) vs. Western Michigan (23-9)

Ohio State (25-9) vs. Dayton (23-10)
At The Amway Center
Orlando, Fla.

Florida (32-2) vs. Albany-Mount St. Mary’s winner

Colorado (23-11) vs. Pittsburgh (25-9)
Friday, March 21
At Scottrade Center
St. Louis

Kansas (24-9) vs. Eastern Kentucky (24-9)

New Mexico (27-6) vs. Stanford (21-12)
At Viejas Arena
San Diego

UCLA (26-8) vs. Tulsa (21-12)

VCU (26-8) vs. Stephen F. Austin (31-2)
Third Round
Saturday, March 22
At First Niagara Center
Buffalo, N.Y.

Syracuse-Western Michigan winner vs. Ohio State-Dayton winner
At The Amway Center
Orlando, Fla.

Florida-Albany-Mount St. Mary’s winner vs. Colorado-Pittsburgh winner
Sunday, March 23
At Scottrade Center
St. Louis

Kansas-Eastern Kentucky winner vs. New Mexico-Stanford winner
At Viejas Arena
San Diego

UCLA-Tulsa winner vs. VCU-Stephen F. Austin winner
Regional Semifinals
At FedExForum
Memphis, Tenn.
Thursday, March 27

Syracuse-Western Michigan-Ohio State-Dayton winner vs. Kansas-Eastern Kentucky-New Mexico-Stanford winner

Florida-Albany-Mount St. Mary’s-Colorado-Pittsburgh winner vs. UCLA-Tulsa-VCU-Stephen F. Austin winner
Regional Championship
Saturday, March 29

Semifinal winners
MIDWEST REGIONAL
Second Round
Thursday, March 20
At The Amway Center
Orlando, Fla.

Louisville (29-5) vs. Manhattan (25-7)

Saint Louis (26-6) vs. N.C. State-Xavier winner
At BMO Harris Bradley Center
Milwaukee

Michigan (25-8) vs. Wofford (20-12)

Texas (23-10) vs. Arizona State (21-11)
Friday, March 21
At PNC Arena
Raleigh, N.C.

Duke (26-8) vs. Mercer (26-8)

UMass (24-8) vs. Iowa-Tennessee winner
At Scottrade Center
St. Louis

Wichita State (34-0) vs. Cal Poly-Texas Southern winner

Kentucky (24-10) vs. Kansas State (20-12)
Third Round
Saturday, March 22
At The Amway Center
Orlando, Fla.

Louisville-Manhattan winner vs. Saint Louis-N.C. State-Xavier winner
At BMO Harris Bradley Center
Milwaukee

Michigan-Wofford winner vs. Texas-Arizona State winner
Sunday, March 23
At PNC Arena
Raleigh, N.C.

Duke-Mercer winner vs. UMass-Iowa-Tennessee winner
At Scottrade Center
St. Louis

Wichita State-Cal Poly-Texas Southern winner vs. Kentucky-Kansas State winner
At PNC Arena
Regional Semifinals
At Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis
Friday, March 28

Wichita State-Cal Poly-Texas Southern-Kentucky-Kansas State winner vs. Louisville-Manhattan-Saint Louis-N.C. State-Xavier winner

Michigan-Wofford-Texas-Arizona State winner vs. Duke-Mercer-UMass-Iowa-Tennessee winner
Regional Championship
Sunday, March 30

Semifinal winners
WEST REGIONAL
Second Round
Thursday, March 20
At BMO Harris Bradley Center
Milwaukee

Wisconsin (26-7) vs. American (20-12)

Oregon (23-9) vs. BYU (23-11)
At Spokane Arena
Spokane, Wash.

San Diego State (29-4) vs. New Mexico State (26-9)

Oklahoma (23-9) vs. North Dakota State (25-6)
Friday, March 21
At The AT&T Center
San Antonio

Creighton (26-7) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (23-11)

Baylor (24-11) vs. Nebraska (19-12)
At Viejas Arena
San Diego

Arizona (30-4) vs. Weber State (19-11)

Gonzaga (28-6) vs. Oklahoma State (21-12)
Third Round
Saturday, March 22
At BMO Harris Bradley Center
Milwaukee

Wisconsin-American winner vs. Oregon-BYU winner
At Spokane Arena
Spokane, Wash.

San Diego State-New Mexico State winner vs. Oklahoma-North Dakota State winner
Sunday, March 23
At The AT&T Center
San Antonio

Creighton-Louisiana-Lafayette winner vs. Baylor-Nebraska winner
At Viejas Arena
San Diego

Arizona-Weber State winner vs. Gonzaga-Oklahoma State winner
Regional Semifinals
At The Honda Center
Anaheim, Calif.
Thursday, March 27

Wisconsin-American-Oregon-BYU winner vs. Creighton-Louisiana-Lafayette-Baylor-Nebraska winner

San Diego State-New Mexico State-Oklahoma-North Dakota State winner vs. Arizona-Weber State-Gonzaga-Oklahoma State winner
Regional Championship
Saturday, March 29

Semifinal winners
FINAL FOUR
At AT&T Stadium
Arlington, Texas
National Semifinals
Saturday, April 5

East champion vs. South champion

Midwest champion vs. West champion
National Championship
Monday, April 7

Semifinal winners

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