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“I’ll put our top two against anybody. I’ll put our middle pack against anybody else’s middle pack,” BC coach Steve Donahue said. “But, yet, there’s 11 from one league and 3 1/2, basically, from another. I don’t see the drastic difference. I’m being honest.”

Of the 37 at-large teams, 30 came from the top six conferences and seven came from the so-called mid-majors _ the conferences that supply the underdogs and unknowns that have turned the NCAA tournament into what it is. The seven were one fewer than last year, even though there were three more spots available.

This year also marks the return of Big East tournament champion Connecticut, along with UCLA, Arizona and 2009 national champion North Carolina, a quartet of perennials that missed the tournament last year and led many experts to call the 2010 field one of the weakest of all time.

Some of those same thoughts are being echoed again this year _ and the teams that got left out are shouting the loudest.

“What I’d like to know is if there’s ever been a team that’s won nine games in the ACC and played the non-conference schedule that we played and beat a No. 1 seed and still didn’t get in,” said Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg, who has found himself venting for four straight years now on Selection Sunday. “I’d love to see the research on that.”