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Dance partners assigned to 65 teams
Duke ties a record with its 10th No. 1 seed.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Duke was selected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for a record-tying 10th time Sunday, while Connecticut and Villanova led the Big East's unprecedented eight teams in the field with top seeds of their own.
Memphis was the final No. 1 chosen among tournament's 65 teams.
Duke's 10th No. 1 selection matched North Carolina for the most ever. It is Connecticut's fourth top seeding and the first time for both Villanova and Memphis.
Eight Big East teams broke the conference's own previous record of seven, which it had shared with the Big Ten. The Big East did it in 1991; the Big Ten in 1990, 1994, 1999 and 2001.
"In terms of what we saw with the Big East, it created some very tough questions for us, specifically the imbalanced scheduling," committee chairman Craig Littlepage said of the 16-team conference. "At the end of this process we felt the eight teams that were selected were very good teams."
The other big winner appeared to be the mid-major teams.
This year's bracket features six teams each from the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference. The Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Missouri Valley and Pac-10 each had four teams chosen. The Colonial Athletic Association also got two bids, and Utah State of the Western Athletic Conference, which was left out two years ago despite finishing in the Top 25, made it in this year as an at-large team.
Among the teams which had been mentioned as possible at-large teams but weren't selected were Cincinnati, Creighton, Florida State, Hofstra, Maryland, Michigan and Missouri State.
Not everyone, even among the mid-major conferences, was pleased.
"I thought it was a good day, but we'd hoped for a better day," Colonial commissioner Thomas Yeager said after champion North Carolina-Wilmington and at-large George Mason were on the bracket but Hofstra was excluded. "From my vantage point, I think the story wasn't that we got squeezed out by the real high profile teams but the questions revolve around teams that look like us."
Missouri State (20-8) may have had the biggest complaint after being No. 21 in the RPI ratings.
One question the committee did consider was whether Villanova should remain a top seed after the injury to Allan Ray in the Big East tournament. The committee has used injuries to seed teams in past years, such as moving Cincinnati down in 2000 when Kenyon Martin broke his leg in the opening game of its conference tournament.
But after debating whether Ray would play and how healthy he might be Sunday morning, Littlepage said, the committee decided not to move the Wildcats.
"Our first hope was that he would return to full health, and yes, to his team, too," Littlepage said. "At the end, we felt like this was a good basketball team even without him, and he probably makes them a great team. So we felt they warranted a No. 1 seed."
Duke (30-3), assigned to the Atlanta regional, will open the tournament Thursday near home in Greensboro, N.C., against Southern University. Also at Greensboro, eighth-seeded George Washington (26-2), the only Division I team with less than three losses, faces ninth-seeded North Carolina-Wilmington.
The other teams in that part of the bracket will play at Jacksonville, Fla., with fifth-seeded Syracuse, the upset winner of the Big East tournament, against 12th-seeded Texas A&M, and fourth-seeded LSU facing Iona.
The biggest surprise was George Washington, which many thought could possibly get a top-four seed before losing to Temple in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.
"We felt their nonconference could have been a little more challenging, a little more rigorous," Littlepage said. "But we believe their seed was a solid seed."
Texas is the No. 2 seed in the Atlanta regional. The Longhorns, who lost to Kansas in the Big 12 tournament championship game Sunday, will play Pennsylvania in Dallas in a doubleheader with seventh-seeded California against 10th-seeded North Carolina State.
The other games in that regional are at Auburn Hills, Mich., with sixth-seeded West Virginia against No. 11 Southern Illinois and third-seeded Iowa, the Big Ten champions, against No. 14 Northwestern State.
Memphis (30-3), which lost just one game in Conference USA this season, heads the Oakland Regional and will play Oral Roberts, which was last in the tournament in 1984, at Dallas in the first round.
The other game in that doubleheader will have eighth-seeded Arkansas against No. 9 Bucknell, which had the upset of last year's tournament, beating Kansas in the first round.
At Auburn Hills, fourth-seeded Kansas will play Bradley, while fifth-seeded Pittsburgh faces No. 12 Kent State.
UCLA was the No. 2 seed in the regional and the Pac-10 champions will play Belmont, making its NCAA debut, at San Diego and seventh-seeded Marquette faces No. 10 Alabama.
At Salt Lake City, third-seeded Gonzaga goes against Atlantic-10 champion Xavier and sixth-seeded Indiana, playing under lame duck coach Mike Davis, plays San Diego State.
Connecticut, along with Duke the only teams to be ranked No. 1 this season, is the top seed in the Washington Regional. The Huskies (27-3), who were beaten by Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals, will play Albany, which is making its first appearance, in Philadelphia. The other game in that doubleheader has eighth-seeded Kentucky against No. 9 UAB. Those teams met in the second round in 2004, with the Blazers stunning top-seeded Kentucky.
Washington, the fifth seed in the regional, plays Utah State in San Diego, while No. 4 Illinois, which lost in the championship game last season, faces No. 13 Air Force, one of the surprise at-large picks in the field.
"The questions that were asked were similar to 'Who is tough team?' and 'Who is a team you wouldn't want to play?"' Littlepage said. "We felt Air Force provided us with a very unique thing."
Tennessee was the second seed and the Volunteers will play Winthrop in Greensboro, where No. 7 Wichita State will face 10th-seeded Seton Hall. At Dayton, defending champion North Carolina is the third seed against Murray State, while sixth-seeded Michigan State goes against George Mason, which will play the game without suspended guard Tony Skinn.
Villanova (24-4) is the top seed in the Minneapolis Regional. The Wildcats will open in their home city of Philadelphia against the winner of Tuesday night's opening-round game between Monmouth and Hampton. The other game in that doubleheader has eighth-seeded Arizona against No. 9 Wisconsin.
This will be the 27th tournament for Arizona coach Lute Olson, tying him with Dean Smith and Bob Knight for the most in NCAA history. It is Olson's 22nd straight appearance with Arizona, moving him within one of Smith's record set at North Carolina from 1975-97.
At Salt Lake City, fourth-seeded Boston College, which finished tied for second in its first season in the ACC, plays 13th-seeded Pacific and fifth-seeded Nevada faces No. 12 Montana.
Ohio State is the second seed and the Buckeyes play No. 15 Davisdon in Dayton and No. 7 Georgetown faces Northern Iowa. The doubleheader at Jacksonville has third-seeded Florida, which repeated as Southeastern Conference tournament champions on Sunday, against No. 14 South Alabama, and sixth-seeded Oklahoma against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which reached the third round last season.
The Final Four is April 1 and 3 in Indianapolis.