Virginia joins other No. 1 seeds in NCAA Tournament
BY LAMOND POPE Sun-Times Media March 16, 2014 5:34PM
Wichita State's Tekele Cotton (32) dunks against Missouri State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference men's tournament, Saturday, March 8, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
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Updated: March 16, 2014 11:27PM
Florida hasn’t lost since Dec. 2.
Wichita State hasn’t lost at all.
Those two streaks headline this year’s NCAA tournament.
Arizona and Virginia joined Florida and Wichita State as No. 1 seeds.
Florida has a 26-game winning streak. The Gators only losses came to Wisconsin in the second game of the regular season and Connecticut at the buzzer on Dec. 2. Florida could run into Kansas or Syracuse in the South regional final. Both were in the running for a top seed in recent weeks.
Wichita State is the first team to enter the NCAA tournament with an undefeated record since UNLV in 1991. The last team to finish the tournament with a perfect record is Indiana in 1976. Michigan, Duke, Louisville and Kentucky join the Shockers in the Midwest Region.
Arizona also started this season on a roll, winning its first 21 games. The Wildcats have suffered as many losses in March (two) as they had the first four months.
The Gators, Shockers and Wildcats were no-brainers as top seeds. Virginia swooped in to earn the top seed in the East Region by winning the ACC regular season and conference tournament titles. It also helped that Villanova, Kansas and Michigan stumbled in their respective conference tournaments.
Michigan lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament title game. The Wolverines are a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region and faces Wofford.
Michigan is one of six teams in the tournament.
Wisconsin is a No. 2 seed in the West Region and takes on American on Thursday. The Badgers had won eight straight before falling at Nebraska in the regular-season finale. Wisconsin remained in the discussion for a No. 1 seed until it lost to Michigan State in a Big Ten tournament semifinal.
The Spartans are a No. 4 seed in the East Region and will play Delaware. Michigan State had a rash of injuries throughout the regular season. But as the Big Ten tournament showed, the Spartans are peaking at the right time.
The same can’t be said about Iowa, which has lost six out of seven. The Hawkeyes were one of the final four teams in the tournament and, as a No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region, have to play Tennessee in an opening-round game. The winner faces Massachusetts.
Ohio State and Nebraska will also represent the Big Ten. The Buckeyes’ stingy defense has made up for their spotty offense. Ohio State is a No. 6 seed in the South Region and faces Dayton Thursday in Buffalo. Nebraska experienced just how swarming Ohio State’s defense can be, blowing an 18-point lead and losing to the Buckeyes in a Big Ten tournament quarterfinal. The Cornhuskers still did enough during the regular season to gain a No. 11 seed in the West Region and will face Baylor on Friday. It’s Nebraska’s first appearance in the tournament since 1998.